Buhari Should Not Allow RUGA Settlement Initiative To Fuel More Conflicts
By Terfa Naswem
Nigeria has a lot of infrastructural, technological, scientific educational and economic deficits that President Muhammadu Buhari should focus his attention on and should not allow the issue of RUGA settlement initiative push Nigeria to the point of vaporization.
In a democratic government, any policy that has to do with settlement is a very complex and sensitive policy that must involve all stakeholders and members of the communities before such a policy can make any commendable impact.
This divisive issue has caused division even amongst members and supporters of All Progressives Congress (APC). Some APC members have advised the President not to impose the policy on any state but allow states that are interested to adopt it.
Even is some states where the governors accepted it, there were protest against it such as in Plateau State. It then means that for a governor to accept a policy does not mean the people of the State accept it. Unless the people of a state accept such a policy, it can never be a solution to ending herdsmen/farmer crisis in Nigeria.
In January 1914, the almagamation of Southern Protectorate and Northern Protectorate was done by the British colonial Governor, Fredrick Lugard to form the single colony of Nigeria. The unification was done for economic reasons rather than political. Northern Nigeria protectorate had a budget deficit; and the colonial administration sought to use the budget surpluses in the Southern Nigeria to offset this deficit.
Since the almagamation was not done by mutual understanding and acceptance by the both protectorates to form Nigeria, that is why today, there are various crises and disunity in Nigeria because Nigeria was form on a faulty foundation. This is the reason why the Igbos have always been pushing for the actualization of Biafra.
To correct this, President Buhari must sincerely fight against corruption, nepotism, tribalistism, ethnic and religious discrimination. He must ensure that the rule of law prevails over injustice. He should make Nigerians to see him as a President for all Nigerians and not only for Fulani or the North. He must also involve all stakeholders in any policy making that has to do with complex and sensitive issues such as RUGA settlement initiative.
Some groups from the North and other auxiliary associations have threatened to cause violence if Buhari does not reverse his decision on the suspended RUGA programme and if the states reject the initiative. Some said since Igbos and other tribes have shops in the North, why would they be denied RUGA. This is a shallow analogy for any rational thinking person to bring forth.
The Igbos that have shops in the North did not get them for free. They paid for such shops and also paid all the required taxes. They never threatened anyone to be given such shops which in the first place were not for free. They also obey the laws of the states as it is in Zamfara and Kaduna and they face the law when they go against it.
Those pushing for the actualization of RUGA would have been appealing to the states to accept it not by threat. By threatening them shows that even if they accept RUGA, at the slightest provocation, they will still be attacked; so the threats will even make acceptance of RUGA more difficult.
If RUGA is imposed on any state, the communities where the settlements would be sited would be hostile to the people and this will be a recipe for future crisis.
Ranching is the best option now that should be embraced. The state governments should ensure that ranches are made according to the the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment law so that anyone doing cattle business can get registered and be documented to operate in the ranches. This will help the state to easily know those who might want to cause violence and it will drastically reduce cattle rustling, and those who go against the law will be prosecuted.
Just like Nigeria was formed against the wishes of majority of the people, if RUGA settlements are imposed on the people, they will never end crises but make them worse.
President Buhari should at all times do the needful and should not accept any idea or policy that will threaten the already fragile unity of Nigeria.