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The Politics Of RUGA Settlement

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Finally the raging and controversial RUGA settlement or cattle colonies project proposed and marketed by President Muhammadu Buhari has been buried, at least for now.
What we don’t know is under what protext or label it will be resurrected to distract the nation from the present realities of dire economic problems which many households are facing.
Surprisingly this RUGA settlement was never part of the APC’s manifesto or proposal during the 2018 to 2019 political campaign period, but suddenly the government woke up and tried every possible means to force it down the throat of Nigerians.
Even in the presidency, there seems to be a disconnect between those pushing for the RUGA option and the comprehensive ranching transformation agricultural project under the auspices of the Vice President, Professor Yomi Osinbajo.
In Nigeria, we like playing with words, so what is the difference between the cattle colonies that was canvassed for in 2017/2018 and the RUGA project of 2019? It is obvious that there are people in the corridors of power who think that most Nigerians are fools and can’t read in between the lines of words that are meant to confuse people with simple minds.
Whatever you call it, RUGA or cattle colonies are one and the same thing. It is just a matter of choice of words or label to sell an unworkable policy in most parts of the country.
The palpable fear and the opposition this RUGA generated across the country indicate that primordial economic solution to modern problems are unworkable in an enlightened society. It is not that people hate cattle herders, but their antecedents are an open book of destruction of farmlands, murder, rape and genocide.
In states like Plateau, Kaduna, Taraba, Adamawa, Benue, Kogi, Delta, Edo, Ondo and Enugu, rampaging herdsmen have left in their wake massive destruction of lives and property and as at today, they have even ventured to the lucrative crime of kidnapping. And to make matters worse, hardly can we hear of arrests made by security agencies of these marauders.
So, when the federal government tried to re-label its unworkable cattle colonies project to Ruga settlements, the opposition to it from the middle belt and the states in the southern part of the country was overwhelming. As notable personalities like former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former chief of army staff, General Theofilus Danjuma, governor from the South-East, South-South, the middle belt, clerics and socio-cultural groups like the Ohaneze, Afenifere, the Ijaw National Congress, all condemning the scheme.
So what really went wrong? To some keen observers of the socio-political structure of the country, the president is just pandering to the whims and caprices of his Fulani kinsmen. Apart from that, he is also the life patron of the Miyeh Allah group, which sees nothing wrong in their actions.
There is also this feeling that in Nigeria under the present dispensation, the lives of cows have more value than human lives, that is why despite the atrocities committed by this group, the presidency has never ordered security agencies to deal with them the way the government has dealt with others, for example, the Biafra group.
Again, there is the universal belief that cattle rearing is a private business and the government should not involve itself in such a venture. But the passion and zeal shown towards the project, coupled with the fact that in some states, sign posts have been hurriedly in some states, sign posts have been hurriedly put up, such as in Benue State, without the consent of the host government despite the fact that there is already a law prohibiting open grazing of cattle, calls for concerns.
Meanwhile the somersault by the government to jettison the idea is highly welcomed and shows that if Nigerians speak with one voice absurd policies will no longer have a place in the country.
According to the current global terrorist index report, “not less than 3,641 people were killed between 2015 to late 2018. And in 2018 alone 1,700 people were killed by herdsmen between January and September of 2018. It adds that the herdsmen have killed six times more people than any terrorist group in Africa”.
So, no one with a same mind, who values his or her life will like to have the herdsmen as neighbours. But if the option of ranches is implemented the issues of violence or rape of women in their farms will no longer persist. The herdsmen should be encouraged to buy land and join the modern world by building their own ranches. Ranching still remains the best option as it will provide the individual herdsman the opportunity to expand his business, have better health facilities and as well, eliminate cattle rustling and theft.
It is only when we play less politics with serious issues that we can make any meaningful progress. There is this distrust of certain government policies that no matter how it is painted it will still have a bad smell. Why is it that from 36 states to 12 and now to being suspended; the Buhari administration should jettison its ill-conceived so called cattle colonies and promote modern ranching as it obtain in South African, Namibia, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil and Argentina. We don’t need to see cows roaming the streets of Abuja, Lagos or Port Harcourt, creating nuisance and threatening the lives of pedistrians and motorists.
Today, a lot of Nigerians will feel vindicted that the huge outcry has paid off with the suspension of the programme, but there still should be vigilance as we don’t know yet the next device that would be used to promote this absurd idea of cattle colonies nationwide for a particular ethnic group. Because if the scheme had sailed through, every ethnic group that was dormant in a particular trade or business could advocate for its own; such as breweries, piggery, dog meat, snake, motor spare parts and others.
Let us grow above primordial sentiments and think like a 21st century human being.

 

Tonye Ikiroma-Owiye

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CROSIEC Deploys About 8,000 Personnel For LG Elections

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Ahead of the next Saturday’s rescheduled Local Government elections in Cross River, about 8000 personnel are said to have been deployed across the state to ensure the smooth conduct of the elections.
The Chairman of the Cross River State Independent Electoral Commission, Dr. Mike Ushie, who disclosed this in Calabar while
speaking on preparations by the commission, said they are ready for the elections and one hundred percent compliant with post COVID-19
elections guidelines recently released by the Independent National Electoral Commission as well as the National Centre for Diseases
Control.
He said: “Eight thousand personnel have been mobilised to cover the two thousand, two hundred and twenty-six polling units in the state.
There will be three personnel per pooling unit, five at the accreditation centres, five at the local government and ward coalition centres.
“Accreditation and voting will take place simultaneously and  in line with INEC guidelines, there will be two levels of queuing  and voters
will vote in batches while maintaining social distance.
“We had to make sure that we are on course and lives are protected. Luckily INEC released the procedure for post COVID-19 elections and I
must say that we are in full compliance with it. INEC said we have to provide hand sanitizers, face masks and we have adopted all the
procedures one hundred percent.
“ We have gone beyond INEC  and have gone ahead to procure hand sanitizers, hand washing containers, a good number of face masks  and
we are working seriously to ensure that the right thing is done”, he said.
He added that the commission has given sufficient notice for the elections and confirmed that five political parties will be participating in Saturday’s elections.
From FRIDAY NWAGBARA, Calabar.
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Ambassador Desmond Akawor Inaugurated As New Rivers State PDP Chairman

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The new Rivers State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Executive Council has been inaugurated in Port Harcourt.
Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly,  Mr Ikuinyi Ibani administered the oath of office on the new executives led by Ambassador Desmond Akawor.
In a charge, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike called on the new executives to work towards consolidating the gains of the immediate past Executive led by Bro Felix Obuah.
He commended immediate past Rivers State PDP Chairman,  Bro Felix Obuah for leading to victory .
He said: “We had challenges at the beginning, but that Executive was committed to service. Obuah has shown capacity to deliver.  It will not be easy for the new executives, but the new executives must start to prepare the party for the challenges ahead.
“Work hard to surpass the records of the past executives.  Working together is key, unity is key.”
Speaking further, Governor Wike said that the Rivers State Government will never condone criminality or any attempt to violate the law.
He said: “But for the steps that , the number of cases would have been more. What makes a leader is the ability  to be firm. I value life more than property.
“Since 2015, we have not demolished any property.  But, someone who was SSG superintended over the demolition of several properties.  Now the person is talking about the draconian process.
“My joy is that majority of Rivers people love what we are doing.”
Governor Wike added that from Information from the State Health Commissioner,  the State is likely to have more cases,  mostly oil workers.
National Chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus congratulated the new Rivers State PDP Executive Committee,  advising them to work for the growth of the party.
Commenting on the fight against coronavirus,  Uche Secondus blasted the Federal Government for refusing to assist State Governments and provide direction for the country.
He said: “The Governors are working without help from the Federal Government.  But for God, the situation would have been worse.
“Governors are running from pillar to post. We must be grateful to Governor Wike for the initiative that he took. What the Governor has done has helped to drastically reduce the number of cases.
“Rivers State is lucky to have Governor Wike at this time of crisis .”
He said those who spread negative propaganda do so out of hatred.
New Rivers State PDP Chairman,  Ambassador Desmond Akawor thanked ththe leadership and members of the party for giving him the opportunity to serve.
He said God has used Governor Wike to rebuild a new Rivers State.  He saluted the resilience of PDP in weathering the storm.
Akawor assured that the new Executive will serve the party diligently.
Immediate Past PDP State Chairman,  Bro Felix Obuah said that the Executive Committee under his leadership led the party to victory  since 2015.
He said that the outgone Executives will continue to work for the party  to ensure future victory.
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Bode George Urges FG To Relax Lagos Lockdown

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A former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George has urged federal government to relax the lockdown it imposed on Lagos State as a result of COVID- 19 pandemic.
George, who made the call in a statement in Lagos, yesterday said the lockdown imposed since March 29 was adversely affecting livelihoods and bringing up security challenges.
He said though government intended to curb the spread of the virus with the lockdown, the directive had left many Nigerians hungry at home without palliatives.
The PDP chieftain noted that there must be a balance between curbing the spread of the virus and protecting livelihoods and asked the government to relax the lockdown while putting safety measures in place.
“Everywhere in Lagos is now locked down. The markets, banking halls, the local grocery shops, the supermarkets, the transportation services are all halted, frozen by the federal government directives since March 29.
“On the surface level, the federal government’s position is to ensure safety, prevent communal spread of the virus and banish this scourge from our shores.
“Lagosians have been staying at home for about a month now. In a largely informal economy where most of our people depend on daily wages, the burden of lack of income is devastating.
“There is a natural growing anger in Lagos as the most vulnerable are ravaged with hunger,” George said.

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