The Presidential Support Committee (PSC) has described as absurd the barrage of criticisms trailing the Ruga settlement scheme, saying the call for President Muhammadu Buhari to “completely scrap” the suspended programme is unconstitutional.
The PSC was reacting to recent reports in which the president of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Dr Supo Ayokunle, as well as top members of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria and other Christian bodies, including the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye were said to have asked President Buhari to completely scrap the Ruga scheme.
In a statement by its director of Communication and Strategic Planning, Mallam Gidado Ibrahim, the PSC regretted that a programme mapped out by the federal government as part of solutions to the farmers/herders clashes is being confronted by fierce opposition by religious leaders who ought to be mobilising support for the scheme.
Specifically, Ibrahim said that it is unconstitutional to deprive fellow citizens of their right to freedom of movement, noting that as Nigerians living in a united country like Nigeria, all citizens, including the Fulanis have the right to settle anywhere they wish to reside in the country.
He pointed out that if the proposed Ruga scheme would send shivers down the spines of Christian leaders and other opposition elements in the country to the extent of generating negative reactions from them, then they may be truly talking with their tongue in their cheek whenever they ask the Buhari administration to tackle insecurity in the country.
Ibrahim said, “This is a clear case of probating and reprobating if people who have been attacking the president over insecurity in the country would still turn around to oppose measures being put in place to stop communal clashes in the country. No wonder Nigeria has not been progressing because a good chunk of its people encourage others to work against government policies that are meant to increase the economic and social fortunes of the country.
“We cannot continue living with farmers/herders clashes because it denied Nigeria development and promotes insecurity, poverty, and even disunity among its citizens.
“The origin of this kind of uproar and criticisms is quite known. Nigerians had been in the dark for so long that whenever any leader tries to stop conflicts that tear them apart, the perpetrators of the act would sponsor people to weave all sort of sentiments to blindfold them the more.”
Urging Nigerians to disregard those opposing the Ruga scheme, the PSC noted that President Buhari should be commended rather than condemned for introducing the policy, which is aimed at resolving the farmers/herders crisis once and for all.
Ibrahim added: “The Ruga settlement is only meant for the livestock owners and the federal government has planned the pilot scheme to see how they can settle the nomadic Fulani in one place to reduce their movement from one place to another. You know that their movements from one place to another usually causes one problem or the other. So, the advantages of Ruga settlements are that it will improve security of lives and properties in the states, because we don’t know the kind of people that enter the country, especially from the neighbouring countries.
“But when settled in one place there would be security in place and we will be able to ascertain the situation of things on the state of insecurity in the country.” Another advantage of the Ruga settlement scheme is that it will allow for the integration of the Fulani in modern farming mechanism. It will make provision for ranching. What a Fulani man wants is for his cattle to be fed and that has been the essence of his movement from one place to the other.”