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Resettlement scheme gulped N2.2b in 2019 budget, says Enang ‘Why we rejected Buhari’s condolence on priest killed by herdsmen’
Only earth dams,grazing reserves will solve conflict, says Miyetti Allah
The Federal Government at the weekend urged states to make land available for the controversial RUGA settlement, even as it said N2.258 billion was allocated for the initiative in the 2019 budget.
Disclosing the position of the government when he hosted Akwa Ibom State indigenes from the Law School, Abuja, Ita Enang, Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters to President Muhammadu Buhari,
insisted that the word ‘RUGA’ does not derive from Hausa or Fulani but is an acronym for Rural Grazing Area (RUGA), and is not intended to foist any religion or ethnic group on other sections of the country.
Critics of the scheme had accused the Federal Government of covertly trying to Islamise or Fulanise parts of the country.He cited item ERGP 5208 of the 2019 federal budget (for the Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development) as containing the fiscal provision, saying allocations were equally made of N300 million for water sanitation, N400 million for the development for sweet potatoes, and N350 million for ginger production.
He expressed surprise over the inability of some states governors to comprehend the policy. According to him, one of the first RUGA programmes is the Obudu Cattle Ranch (now Obudu Mountain Resort) in Cross River State and the Yankari Games Reserve in Bauchi State.
According to Enang, the Federal Government has always made yearly allocations for the funding of grazing areas. He further noted that the National Executive Council (NEC) approved another sum for an emergency RUGA implementation. This, he said, did not involve any state in the south-east, south-west and south-south,
but only 10 states mainly in the north-central, and a few others in the north-west and north-east.
National Assembly members are not against the scheme because they are already aware of its modus operandi and have been approving funds for its implementation, the presidential aide said, appealing to Nigerians to stop politicising the matter.Responding, the leader of the students’ delegation, Ndifrake Inyang, said he was now in a better position to enlighten people about RUGA “having known the facts.”
He added: “Sincerely speaking, RUGA is something that everybody would want to have because of the economic derivatives. I also want the RUGA settlement in my state, Akwa Ibom, so that there will be employment and our people can benefit from it and also put to an end to the national crisis, so that we will have one peaceful Nigeria.”
But worries about Fulani herdsmen, beneficiaries of RUGA, and their alleged link to violence, are unlikely to disappear soon.Following Thursday’s murder in Enugu of a Catholic priest, Rev. Fr Offu, by suspected herdsmen, aggrieved adherents of the faith yesterday expressed disapproval at the Federal Government’s handling of security.
Thousands of the faithful had gathered at the Holy Ghost Cathedral to pray for the repose of the late Offu’s soul and for peace in the nation. But when the bishop, Most Rev. Callistus Onaga, disclosed that Buhari had condoled with the church, the audience erupted, shouting: “No! No! No! We don’t want his condolence! He should keep his
condolence! He should keep his condolence to himself and stop the killings!”A statement titled ‘Enough Is Enough’ released by the church after the Mass, asked the Enugu State government to urgently flush out “bad Fulani from the state.”
The deceased, 49, will be interred August 20.Also, the Federal Polytechnic Ado Ekiti announced it had begun the construction of a perimeter fence to ward off the alleged invasion of its land by suspected herdsmen.At a press conference heralding the institution’s 17th convocation slated for August 12, the Rector, Hephzibah Oladebeye, disclosed that the school last year lost over N10 million worth of farm produce to the activities of herders.
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