Elder statesman and convener of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, Chief Edwin Clark, has warned the Federal Government not to reintroduce the suspended controversial Ruga scheme as such may lead to the disintegration of Nigeria.
Chief Clark gave the warning in an interview with journalists yesterday. “Nigeria belongs to all of us. It is true that this country has been depending on oil and gas. One appreciates the efforts of the FG to diversity into areas of agriculture; but the recent introduction of Ruga is an abomination to the entire people of Nigeria. It is obnoxious, it is unacceptable. We cannot remain in a country where various different groups of people live to make Nigeria since 1914 and today you are introducing some sort of settlement of a particular group in every part of the 36 states simply because you believe you are solving the problem of herdsmen and farmers. That is not the issue; you are not solving it,” he said.
And he added: “Ranching is the solution. If you want to maintain cattle rearing, it is ranching. That is what operates everywhere in the world. Even in less civilised developed countries in Africa. If you go to Brazil and East Africa, ranching is what they are doing. Even our founding fathers in the first republic established ranches. There were ranches at Obudu Cross River State, Ondo State and in the north. Nobody kicked against it but for you to introduce a settlement for resolving the problem between herdsmen and farmers is unthinkable.
“Let us go back, we have been living with Fulani and their herds for very long time; even when I was young, they lived with us. When they are bringing their cows, they used their sticks and everybody gave way but today we see herdsmen armed with Ak-47 all over the country moving around, killing people, raping women, killing children and so forth, destroying farms and today not one single one has been arrested, no single one has been caught and his gun removed; that is the country we belong.
“Government is not interested in seeing that the herdsmen with arms that came from Niger, Libya and other places are addressed; they want those people to be settled in our midst. It is not the Fulani who are going round with cows that they want to settle. These (foreigners) are not the ones they want to settle. So I disagree with that project.
“They should now withdraw it completely. Whether they suspend it for another 10 years or so, if it comes back, Nigeria will not survive as a country. It is good they withdrew it. If they say they have just suspended it and they are bringing it back, no Nigerian will agree to it and that may be the beginning of the disintegration of this country. God forbid!”