Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), advised the Federal Government on Tuesday to implement the Ruga settlement policy only in states where the people had not rejected it.
Speaking with Daily Independent , Sagay, who said he was in support of the scheme, said any state opposed to the scheme should not be compelled to do so by the Federal Government.
According to him, he had always been a strong advocate of ranching of cattle where the cows are properly attended to on one spot instead of roaming about, which was the primary cause of clashes between farmers and herdsmen.
He added that when the ranches are provided, industries could also be set up where materials from cattle could be manufactured into milk, cheese, yoghurt, butter, corned beef, and so on which could then be exported.
This, according to him, was far more productive than the current method where the cows are just slaughtered and the meat eaten.
He said: “I have always been a strong advocate of ranching. I started writing on this almost 10 years ago when nobody was discussing it and when all these clashes that are taking place now were not much.
“I said that for proper modern pastoral agriculture, there is need for cattle to be stationed in a place where they can be fed and there can be complementary industries like dairy products, cheese, corned beef industries, and so on.
“If all these are done, it will bring a lot more money to the company and also those involved directly or indirectly will benefit and, thirdly, it will eliminate clashes.
“This is because everything will be done within a confined space. That has always been my view and now people, and even the Federal Government, are just catching up with that now.”
Sagay urged the Federal Government to come out with a statement that states who reject the Ruga scheme would not be compelled to do so.
“So, I support the Ruga policy with one major condition, which is that no state that does not want it should be compelled to have it.
“In other words, only states that want it and want to implement it should have it. If any state does not want it, you just leave that state aside.
“There will be no question of anybody complaining. If I want it, I get it. If I don’t want it, I won’t get it. Nobody should complain on my behalf. That will become oppressive.
“Each state should speak for itself and the Federal Government should make it clear that it is purely consensual.
“Only states that want it will have it. Any state that does not want it will be left alone. That should be made very clear. With that condition, I fully support it.”
However, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, a former minister of transport, has condemned the recent scheme, describing it as unconstitutional.
Speaking with Daily Independent , Babatope, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustees (BoT), said ceding lands to herdsmen in all states of the federation was a dangerous move.
While asking President Muhammadu Buhari to abolish the scheme, he said: “I don’t know why Buhari is trying to enforce the Ruga settlement. It is unconstitutional. We run a federation in this country and not a unitary system.
“When we talk of having a situation whereby a group of people called herdsmen will now have access to all lands to all states in Nigeria, that can be very dangerous.
“Tomorrow is it going to be possible that farmers in Yorubaland will be transported to Northern states and say they want to find land for them to practice agriculture? That is very unconstitutional.
“So, I hope Buhari will have to review that and ensure that the right thing is done.”
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