By Yusufu Shehu Usman
After the saga of Rape which has trended so hotly in the social media platforms, attention is now shifted to the policy of government to establish Ruga Settlements in an attempt to settle the herdsmen and reduce the constant and persistent clashes between farmers and herdsmen What is this brouhaha about the ruga settlement for the herdsmen? If other Nigerians can settle and do business anywhere, what’s wrong if the herdsmen settle and rear the cattle in any part of Nigeria?
Why should we be so intolerant to the plight of our compatriots? Haba
If Easterners, Northerners, Southerners and foreigners can acquire lands for residence and business in Lagos, Kano and other major cities in Nigeria without challenge or resistance from the governments and peoples who are the traditional owners of these lands, why should the herdsmen who are also bona fide citizens of Nigeria, suffer a discrimination when it comes to their right to settle and do business in other parts of Nigeria?
It is even more intriguing to understand the basis for this resistance when the herdsmen will be settling not in the populated parts but in the bush away from the hustle and bustle of cities
Just imagine what will happen if for example the Yorubas say they won’t accept or accommodate the Ibos or the Hausas or other citizens owning lands and doing business in Lagos or if the Hausas seek to stop the Ibos ,the Yorubas and other citizens not indigenous to the North from acquiring property and doing business in the North or if the Ibos and other Nigerians object to the settlement of other Nigerians in their lands!
Nigeria belongs to all of us and our Constitution gives every Nigerian the right to settle down and do any business in any part of Nigeria without discrimination, molestation or hatred
Furthermore, the Land Use Act a federal legislation with application and force in all parts of the country vests the ownership, control and administration of land in the government to manage same in trust for the people
Therefore the argument if any may arise from the ruga issue may be to ask why should the government intervene if cattle rearing is a private business?
I think by the government getting involved, it is not going to buy cattle and give the herdsmen but just to create an enabling environment for the herdsmen to conduct their business in the same way the government has been intervening to subsidise farming by providing cheap fertilizer, farming inputs, improved seedlings and agricultural implements.
The creation of River Basin authorities and the associated numerous irrigation schemes by the government is to the benefit of the farmers, the many policies on agriculture were aimed at boosting farming activities as a business to the private farmers.
All the agricultural projects are conceived and executed on land acquired by the government from private owners and nobody has kicked against the acquisition of the land under such circumstances. Of course by law, the government has both the power and right to acquire any land in Nigeria for public purposes
The government has intervened in so many private businesses. We have deployed public funds to bail out commercial banks who should run for profits, we have made policies to fund rice farmers, cocoa farmers, fish farmers, chicken farmers, oil palm farmers and a host of other farming projects. We have even bailed out textile and other private concerns from public funds. Why should establishing ruga settlements attract so much controversy in the land?
The issues sought to be addressed by establishing the ruga settlements are two pronged. It is conceived as a solution to the national crisis of farmer- herdsmen clashes which often result in loss of lives , destruction of valuable properties and a serious threat to food security.
This is a major national security issue that may be addressed if the herdsmen are settled in the ruga
It is also an issue in inclusive governance and fair and equitable distribution of the dividends of democracy.
The Fulani and other herdsmen are boba fide citizens of Nigeria, they vote and perform other civic responsibilities just like other Nigerians. They can not be denied or be discriminated against when it comes to reaping the benefits of democracy
There is nothing wrong with the government establishing the ruga and providing social amenities for the herdsmen to live their lives as other Nigerians, who are beneficiaries of government projects like roads, pipe borne water, portable bore holes, electricity, schools, hospitals, gardens and Parks etc
If democracy is government of the people, by the people and for the people, it’s operation and attendant benefit should cut across all segments of the society without discrimination or deprivation
The herdsmen are entitled to the inclusiveness enjoyed by other citizens and also have a right to an enabling environment to pursue their legitimate business of cattle rearing amidst reasonable comfort and security which the government has the duty to provide for all Nigerians