The General Secretary of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, Baba Uthman Ngelzarma, says Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo’s office is helping the herdsmen to create Ruga settlements across the country.
Ngelzerma boasted that when the programme has been successfully completed, Nigerians would fully enjoy the benefits of animal husbandry.
Southern socio-cultural groups including Afenifere and Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo; as well as the Middle Belt Forum have all rejected the Ruga initiative.
However, Ngelzerma said not only Fulani men were herders, adding that herdsmen of all tribes would benefit.
He said, “This Ruga settlement model is a component part of the livestock development and transformation plan that is being implemented under the Office of the Vice-President. It is a component part of it.
“All must agree with me that the crisis we are facing today has become a multi-dimensional one and so the approach must also be holistic. It was the desire of the Federal Government to take a holistic approach that gave birth to the Ruga settlement model and it is not only for Fulani herders.
“In southern Kaduna, there are natives who are also herders. Even in Plateau, there are other groups that are herders. It was intended for the herders as part of efforts by the government to come up with an economic model of solving this crisis.
“This is an integrated settlement that will bring about the production of pasture grass, water, schools, markets, meat and milk processing and where it can create a sub-sector of the economy. This is something that if done properly, it will create a lot of employment.”
He urged Nigerians to support the model and give peace a chance even as he claimed that only states that approved of the model would have Ruga settlements.
“It is a misunderstood concept to some people. The lands are under the control of governors. This model is a trial. It will be done in 12 states to see if it can work or not. Even we, from the side of the herders, have our reservations,” he said.
When asked if it was right for the government to spend taxpayers’ money on what would benefit herders alone, Ngelzerma argued that crop farmers had similarly benefitted in the past.
He said southerners benefit from animal husbandry more than the northern herdsmen who rear the cattle.