Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State has said that the state would implement its own version of the Ruga settlement scheme despite that the project was suspended by the Federal Government.
Governor Sule made this known while hosting a delegation of Fulani leaders, associations, elders and Ardos from across the state, on Sunday, in Lafia, the state capital.
The governor noted that the initial scheme, put in place by President Muhammadu Buhari, was voluntary as there was no compulsion whatsoever to implement the project, was aimed at creating lasting peace between farmers and herdsmen across the country.
The governor added that though his colleagues heeded the advice to suspend the project, they, however, agreed that they would embark on the scheme in their various states in order to ensure peaceful co-existence.
Accroding to the governor, “Even though the Federal Government has suspended its Ruga project, some of us agreed to continue with the same project in our states, hoping that its advantage will become evident.”
He further denied that the suspended Federal Government Ruga settlement scheme was compulsory as, according to him, “nobody brought Ruga project to me. I personally approached the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to learn more about the scheme and I was interested.”
While maintaining that there would not be any meaningful development without peace, Governor Sule commended President Buhari for his efforts geared towards lasting peace across the country.
The governor also commended the Fulani leaders for the visit, stressing the need for peaceful coexistence between herdsmen and farmers.
He called on them to carry their people along since leadership is a trust from God.
“As leaders, you don’t have any justification to cause division among your followers,” he advised.
The governor used the opportunity to call on the youth to desist from criminal activities such as kidnapping and cattle rusting, urging them to go back to school in order to acquire western education and to help in nation building.
Earlier, in his opening remark, leader of the delegation and Sarkin Fulanin Dangi, Sen. Walid Jibrin, said the purpose of the visit was to discuss with the governor about the Federal Government proposed Ruga programme for herdsmen and the willingness of the Nasarawa State Government to adopt the project.
Sen. Jibrin, who also doubles as the Chairman of Ardos in Nasarawa State, commended the Governor Sule over his recent peace overtures to his Benue State counterpart, Governor Samuel Ortom, in Makurdi, with a view to sustaining the existing peace in the two neighbouring states.
According to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) BoT chairman, the visit would go a long way in resolving the lingering crisis involving herdsmen and farmers not only in the two states but across the country.
In his words, “I will like to advice that àll governors and Nigerian leaders should follow the good example of Nasarawa and Benue states, despite the fact that Engineer Sule belongs to APC and Chief Orton is of the PDP,” he stated.
He stressed that when issues of security are being treated, there is every need to avoid mixing such with politics, religion or tribe.
Sen. Jibrin pointed out that the Fulani have existed for over 200 years in Nasarawa State peacefully among all the other tribes, but for recent development occasioned by receding land for both farmers and herdsmen.
He stated the readiness of the Fulani to accept the Ruga project to be implemented by the state government in order to minimise conflicts and everyday killings, adding that the Fulani would cooperate with the governor as well as the Federal Government in order to allow peace to reign across the state.
Sen. Jibrin appealed to the people of Southern Nigeria to remain calm as the project is being planned, assuring them that it is not compulsory.