Is RUGA A Precursor To Land Grab By The Rich And Powerful? Suspicions Mount

The Oasis Reporters

July 20, 2019

Plans by the Federal government to spread Fulani settlements all over the federation, that is meeting with stiff resistance and resentment, particularly in the south, certainly must have reasons, both for the supporters of either the cattle colony scheme, RUGA scheme, grazing reserves, whichever way or under which ever name that it is called. And those that are opposed to it.

A body known as the Movement for the Support of Ruga Programme In Nigeria ( MSRP), recently called on Kano State Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje to revoke the sales of all grazing lands that were sold in some local government areas across the state.

Their opening statement clearly reveals that in Kano State for instance, lands had been earmarked for grazing all over the state. But the rich and powerful, have appropriated it.

According to the group, another 16-man committee on Kano Ruga Programme was Inaugurated on Thursday, probably to get more land, or shrink more land from crop farmers to give more land to the cattle rearing community, or so it seems, just as they allege that some grazing lands have been sold to wealthy people in collaboration with some traditional rulers and local government executives just for personal gains.

Furthermore, the group disclosed that in some local government areas, large portions of grazing lands have been sold while the herdsmen are still there, despite that Kano State Government is working day and night to ensure that herdsmen are settled at a place where there is grazing land to feed their animals.

One of the herdsmen in Kano who also pleaded anonymity, said that Ganduje should look into the issue of the sale of grazing lands because if this continues, in the near future, herdsmen would not have a piece for grazing, which is a slap to the Ruga programme in Kano and other parts of the country.

What their statement implies is that lands for herdsmen and their cows have been taken over. Therefore since land is not expanding, crop farmers would bear the brunt in the search for more grazing land.

The argument by Dr. Katch Ononuju, a consultant economist on Channels TV a couple of weeks ago, indicates a disturbing trend. After a massacre recently around the Zamfara, Katsina axis for instance, the herdsmen he met on his way there for a fact finding tour, spoke French and a non Nigerian variant of Fulani.
Add the mix of a testimony by Mark Jacob, former Attorney General of Kaduna State to it; he said, land was allocated for peripatetic herdsmen in the past. But they never stay there, only passing through while following or obeying the dictates of their migratory seasons.
Therefore what happens to the land after the herdsmen pass through and depart, when it is out of season ?

Many self serving Fulani big and powerful men have moved in there and built palatial mansions, claiming to originate from those places.
That is the fate of Kachia in Southern Kaduna, taken from minority Christian citizens to become a grazing reserves for migrant Fulani herdsmen. Today, that part of Kachia has become a sprawling metropolis, now renamed Laduga, with all the appurtenances of a city. An envy to the pressed half of Kachia that is almost bereft of what modernity demands. Laduga has since become a Fulani Muslim emirate. The itinerant herdsmen have no other choice than to stray into the farms of the indigenous aboriginals. Any angry reaction from them leads to attack and massacres in hundreds by Fulani militia who only attack while innocent women, men and children sleep.

This has become the sad story of relationships between Fulani herdsmen, their militia and the hard-pressed indigenous people till date.

Lands at Kunnawa Dam Grazing Reserve in Kano State for instance, were demarcated over 60 years ago but some wealthy people are said to be clearing the place for farming, leaving the herdsmen that were settled at the Dam with little piece of land, according to a report by the New Nigerian newspapers.

Finally, Fulani herdsmen would need to cultivate modern methods of animal husbandry. They are better off staying in enclosed spaces, especially in the north where land is vast. Take for instance, the case of just one local government area in Bauchi State being larger than a state in the densely populated south eastern Nigeria. Therefore making it obvious that developing a piece of land in the north for cattle rearing would be better than struggling and fighting in the south that has little or no land to spare.

Additional reporting : New Nigerian

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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