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Following widespread public outcry, President Buhari last week suspended his plans to create rural grazing areas, otherwise known as “RUGA settlements” or “cattle colonies” across the country. This was a thoughtless and provocative idea, and Buhari was wrong to have mooted it in the first place.
Anyone who objectively read the Presidency’s press statement justifying the RUGA settlements would immediately see that the government’s plans would 1) create a special and protected category of Nigerians, based on their ethnicity and way of life, 2) accord to those special citizens privileges and advantages not given to other citizens, contrary to section 42 of the Constitution, and 3) offend the sensibilities of the nationalities who have suffered untold injustices in the hands of the seemingly untouchable herdsmen, who are of the Fulani extraction, thus subjecting the people of those less-favoured nationalities to restrictions and humiliation as second-class citizens.
The government said the RUGA Settlement plan “is to resolve the farmer/herder conflicts”. So, instead of stopping the incessant killing of innocent farmers by criminal herdsmen and giving justice to the victims, the government wants to appease the herdsmen by settling them in the same states whose people they’ve been killing, maiming and raping in genocidal-type attacks.
How can you resolve the herder-farmer conflicts without justice? How many criminal herdsmen have been arrested, prosecuted and punished? How many of their victims or families of those victims have been compensated? The RUGA settlement plan is wrong for many reasons, the first is its inherent injustice!
But any solution to the conflict must begin with a proper understanding of its nature. Those sympathetic to the herdsmen’s case often cite environmental challenges, such as climate change, desertification and droughts, which have reduced the supplies of grass and water for cattle, as the … Read More...