Herdsmen under the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) has reacted to the suspension of Rural Grazing Areas (RUGA) settlement initiative across the nation.
The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari had suggested and began the project nationwide with stakeholders not carried along. He said the initiative will bring a permanent end to herders and farmers clashes across Nigeria.
Although it is said to be optional for interested states, the implementation of the projects in some states that rejected it fuelled speculations that the government was being economical with the truth.
Those who rejected the move accused the federal government of spreading land grabbing for the benefit of the Fulani tribe.
Reacting to the suspension of the project, Miyetti Allah said the move was a blessing to them because they do not need it.
The president of the umbrella body of herdsmen in the country, Abdullahi Bodejo, said his group was not consulted before the implementation of the initiative as it was politically driven.
“We don’t need Ruga settlements. Every Fulani man in Nigeria has a Ruga. The entire scheme is political because even the Fulani leaders and traditional rulers were not consulted,” Mr Bodejo was quoted by Leadership newspaper as saying.
“What we need is a return to our grazing areas. Facilities should be provided in them so that the herders can graze their cattle because the Ruga issue is political and does not help the Fulanis in the country.
“We support him (the president) because the programme was not helpful to us. How do you start a programme that a Fulani man with over 500 cows is not aware of?” he queried.
The Miyetti Allah helmsman said the Ruga project created distrust between herders in the south and their host communities who drove some of them away from their domain.
“The Fulanis in the southern part of the country were living peacefully with their neighbours for many years but when this issue of Ruga started, many of them were chased out. There was distrust. That is not good. All the traditional rulers in the North and we the leaders of the Fulanis were not aware of the Ruga programme and we were not consulted. Anything that will make our cows to be destroyed is not good and should not be supported,” Bodejo added.
Meanwhile, Afenifere and Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the two socio-cultural groups in the south that rejected the initiative, has commended the incumbent administration for halting the projects.