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RUGA And The Doublecross Of A Comprehensive Plan By Waheed Saka

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Let me state it expressly here, I can never support RUGA as it were and it has nothing to do with Hausa-Fulani , it was not only immoral, disorganized, disjointed but also with only the business of contract as the driving force. In a single week, I discovered that some people are just passionate about making this country backward. To make my position clear, RUGA is an economic sabotage, an illegal buccaneer against a genuine National plan to solve the Livestock challenges in Nigeria.

And When I said, Nigeria, it includes all free range livestock either the cow in the North or goat, sheep and cattle in the South. But some powerful mercantile politician in the corridor of power will have none of such. And just like Goodluck Jonathan’s Nomadic Schools, RUGA is also all noise and no substance!

As at the time of writing this piece, there is no single document on RUGA, only some very snippets that RUGA was approved by National Food Security Council of Ministry of Agriculture. In the democracy of elite, it is allowed to double cross one another in projects and policy, just like in animal farm, some elites are more powerful than the others. This is why RUGA are bound to fail ab-initio. RUGA smell corruption all over it. From Corruption of idea to financial corruption.

At the beginning of the week, the antagonists and protagonists of RUGA were along party lines, then it follows ethnic lines and because I considered both not enough reason to jump the debate, I commenced a digging on the RUGA phenomenon. My digging paid off when I stumbled on a National Livestock Development Plan.

National livestock Transformation Plan is a segment of the National Development Plan, it started when Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Mr Audu Ogbe requested the Food & Agriculture Organisation office in Nigeria to help facilitate a joint policy dialogue on the transformation of the nation’s grazing reserves to ranches. The policy dialogue was held in Kaduna in April 2017.

The plan is to find international best practice against the traditional livestock husbandry system and the persistent challenges of farmers’ pastoralist conflict and security challenges of cattle rustling and losses of lives resulting from herdsmen and communal clashes.

The dialogue recommended policy interventions that revolve around access to land, finance, markets as well as infrastructure, inputs and manpower for ranch development. The National Conference on the Transformation of the Nigerian Livestock Industry held in Abuja, from 11-15 September 2017. The Conference was attended by over 770 stakeholders and a 10-year National Livestock Development Plan (2018 -2027) was conceived with strategies to actualize the conference recommendations.

Conference agreed ranching cannot be embarked upon until these six major and critical factors are given top priority as they are the pillars that hold the value chain, especially at the production end, they are: Land Allocation, Ranch Size Models, Pasture and Fodder Production, Priority Breed Improvement, Access to Finance, Infrastructure and Support Services.

The conference also agreed to formation and registration of livestock owners into productive alliance, cooperatives or clusters along family or clan lines (emphasis Mine) to facilitate access to land and support for ranching.

The conference for people ownership recommended that Government should not finance ranches 100%. A herd owner would agree to be a participant to the Ranching Scheme and be willing to pledge an equity in the ranch development before they qualify for the land allocation.

The NLTP further proposed among other things that a Starter Package be provided to assist start up ranchers in following crucial areas:
i. Land Clearing and demarcation Direct Government Intervention
ii. Support Access to inputs pasture seeds,
fertilizer and other inputs Link to Private Sector Input Suppliers and Service Providers
iii. Access to the services of Agro-Rangers Direct Government Intervention
iv. Animal Healthcare Link to Animal Health Care Service Providers
v. Registration with Market led Anchor Growers Programme
vi. Access to Livestock Insurance
vii. Enrolment on National Herd Register with appropriate Animal Identification System
viii. Automatic Enrolment on Ranchers’ capacity Building Scheme.

The clincher was that all the state governors agreed on NTLP, and the Ranches are driven by family and Clan. No herder in one state will ranch in another state and the need to introduce special breeds of livestocks is also included in the plan. Importantl, there is no where either in the entire document or in the record of the dialogue and conference RUGA was mentioned, not even in an informal discussions.

RUGA is without doubt an attempt to doublecross National Livestock Transformation Plan which failed woefully in the eyes of the people. The question is where was RUGA conceived? Who took RUGA contract and why will any ministry official chose RUGA to create new tension in already volatile nation? My position is that, it is not enough to suspend RUGA, President Muhammadu Bihari must probe RUGA and the contract thereof. It is then we can genuinely say good riddance to bad rubbish!

Finally, commendation should be extended to all eggheads that produced NLTP and in equal measures, condemnations should be extended to those behind the RUGA-gate, Now is the time to pursue the 10yrs NLTP plan to a productive end.

Waheed Saka is the Convener, Dialogue 365, he can be reached on twitter @wahidsaka

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