March 2, 2021

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Why Plateau rejected RUGA, by Lalong

2 min read

By Kolade Adeyemi, Jos and David Adenuga, Bauchi

Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong has given reasons for the state’s rejection of the Rural Grazing Area Programme (RUGA).

The governor spoke on Tuesday on Channels TV breakfast show, “Sunrise Daily” monitored in Jos, the state capital.

He said RUGA was a strange concept that came after the National Economic Council (NEC) had debated, scrutinised and adopted the National Livestock Transformation Programme (NLTP) as a comprehensive and inclusive idea to tackle herders-farmers clashes and other associated matters.

Lalong said because the RUGA initiative did not have the buy-in of stakeholders and fell short of addressing the concerns of most governors, it was not possible for Plateau State to embrace it.

The alleged backdoor adoption of RUGA, the governor said, further fueled the misconception about the NLTP, which he said is neither for one ethnic group nor meant for land grabbing.

Read Also: Lalong seeks end to killings

He said: “I was one of the first governors to kick against the RUGA programme when it was introduced. To start with, the concept was literally sneaked in for reasons we did not understand. For me as governor of Plateau State, I just heard that they had erected signposts in some sites within some local governments.

Proherbarium

“How can you earmark on such a project without my knowledge and the buy-in of the people in my state? I had no interest in it because it was far below the NLTP, which was more robust and had passed through series of engagements with critical stakeholders.”

Lalong regretted the clashes that had trailed the open grazing by herders in many parts of the country.

He said: “Today, we are seeing the hazard of allowing people do open grazing here and there. But they (herders) also want solution. By the time you explain to them, they also want to stay in one place, they would also want to keep away from carrying AK-47.

“I’m not justifying for anybody to carry AK-47. But don’t forget that in the course of our deliberations and investigations, it was not only Fulani herdsmen that were carrying AK-47, even farmers were carrying AK-47.”

But the Plateau State chapter of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) yesterday said no farmer in the state had been seen with AK-47.

The state’s AFAN Chairman John Wuyep stated this while addressing reporters on phone in Jos, the state capital.

Wuyep was reacting to Lalong’s comment on Channels TV that some herders and farmers in the country were carrying arms.

“As far as I am concerned, my farmers are people who cannot afford an AK-47. And to the best of my knowledge, I am not aware of that,” he said.

Also, Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has been criticised for accusing his Bauchi State counterpart, Bala Mohammed, of terrorism.

The face-off between the duo took a fresh twist on Monday when Ortom criticised Mohammed for backing herdsmen carrying of AK-47 to defend themselves.