FG to Governors: Nigeria Stands to Gain from Fulani Herdsmen’s Settlements

Despite the growing opposition by governors to the move by the government of Nigeria to establish settlements for Fulani herdsmen across the country, Abuja appears bent on pressing on with the seeming land grabbing initiative.

Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Umar, said the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is not likely to back down easily from the initiative because of its expected economic benefits to the country.

While speaking on the sidelines of the West Africa Antimicrobial Resistance Workshop in Abuja, the country’s capital, Umar insisted that the controversial Ruga settlements will attract investors to Nigeria.

The workshop was organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), an agency of the United Nations for West African countries including Nigeria, who agreed to collaborate to address the destructive effects of antimicrobial resistance on human and animal health.

According to the permanent secretary, ‘’the Ruga settlement is one of the very important things being done by the ministry and it is one of the best things that can happen not only to Nigeria but to most of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa. It is a concept that we developed to deal with internal security.

‘’We felt that to do away with herders-farmers’ conflict, we need to settle our nomads and those who breed animals. We want to put them in a place that has been developed as a settlement, where we provide water for their animals, pasture, schools for their children, security, agro-rangers, etc.’’

Adding, he said, ‘’we also felt that we need to develop cattle markets whereby you don’t need to be transporting animals through very long distances. We will also bring in investors that will set up modern centres where cattle breeders can slaughter their animals. When we do that, a lot of other things will come up.

‘’We are going to change their (herdsmen) lifestyle, take them away from our streets and from wandering in the bush and develop districts, hamlets and towns and definitely in the next five to 10 years you will never see a nomad moving about, wandering or kidnapping. And this will end all these security challenges.

‘’We have already taken off. First of all, we are starting with about 12 states and we have identified the required locations. In each and every state we are going to have at least nothing less than six locations which we will start with and will settle these people along with other people that are interested in rearing animals.

‘’The Ruga settlement will attract a lot of investments to Nigeria and it is our belief that in the next five years, each Ruga settlement will provide nothing less than 2,000 employment opportunities. We are collaborating with the cattle breeders’ associations in Nigeria.’’

Umar claimed that many state governments have indicated interest and were visiting the ministry to get details about the initiative.

‘’Already state and local governments are buying into the initiative. Many states have indicated interest. They have been coming to the ministry and will like to join to ensure that we set up Ruga settlements in their states so that their nomads will have a place. Also, they will have cattle markets and modern abattoirs in their states’’, the permanent secretary said

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