Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu SAN has a word of advice for the Federal Government which is planning to settle herders in different states of the country: “Don’t”!
Leave my state out of the plan, he declared.
According to him, Ondo does not need any special intervention called Rural Grazing (RUGA) settlement policy by the Federal Government as the state already has two ranches, one at Akunnu and the other at Auga, both in the Akoko North West Local Government Area which shares border with Edo State.
The ranch in Auga can accommodate 5000 cows, Akeredolu added in a tweet on Tuesday morning.
The Muhammadu Buhari administration recently announced Ruga policy which has come under a hail of criticisms.
The plan has been stiffly resisted by South East state governors, as well as Benue, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and civil society leaders. It has, however, received the support of Niger and Plateau State Governors. The Presidency says 12 states have already agreed to the plan.
Critics accuse the Buhari administration of plotting to use the policy to seize ancestral lands from ethnic communities across the country and hand them over to the herders, most of whom are of the President’s Fulani ethnic stock. They also accuse the President of changing the narrative of incessant ethnic cleansing of southern communities, with impunity, by the Fulani, calling it farmers-herders clashes.
Ignoring the clear provisions of the constitutionally-backed Land Use Act which vests land on Governors, to redistribute land for people of mainly his ethnic stock has also been of concern to most of the critics.
But Garba Shehu, a spokesman for the President recently allayed such fears, saying that the use of land will be after voluntary release by the Governors. He also outlined what the Federal Government regards as the immense benefits of the plan.
Akeredolu, in his verified tweeter account declared that his state is against the plan. He tweeted:
“Our stance on the #RugaSettlements debate is clear. Ondo is only interested in ranches. We have 2 large ranches existing in Akunnu & Auga. Auga can accommodate 5000 cows. A key difference here is that we have no preference for who manages the cattle. The ranch owners decide.”
“The primary reason for #RugaSettlements although understandable does not truly factor the interests of every State. We have a youth unemployment crisis our ranches can address. Ondo State must prioritize agriculture due to the arable nature of our land.”
“A lot of our land is already earmarked for forest reserves. The FG must understand why we need to be strategic in our decision making. We implore the FG to revisit the proposal based on feedback from the different States & act accordingly.”