Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi has said that there was no plan to establish RUGA settlements in any part of the South-East and South-South zones of Nigeria.
Umahi made the clarification in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Emma Uzor, in Abakaliki on Sunday.
Denying the rumoured plans by some governors in the zone to cede part of their land for RUGA settlement, the governor, who serves as chairman of the South-East Governors Forum, however explained that the zone proposed a deal with the members of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, MACBAN, as panacea to achieving lasting peace between farmers and herdsmen.
The governor’s statement was in reaction to controversies which had trailed Federal Government’s plan to establish RUGA settlements in some states.
“There is no plan for any Ruga settlement in any part of South-East and South-South zones; but we made a proposed deal with MACBAN that can allow the zone to become very good business partners with sale of grasses to the herdsmen in exchange for meat.
“There will be no part of the South-East that will be given out for the purpose of establishment of Ruga, the zone is purely agrarian with limited landmass for farming and therefore cannot accommodate Ruga establishment.
“We actually proposed a deal with MACBAN to take their cattle to the Northern parts where grazing reserves were established long time ago and rely completely on the grasses grown in the South for feeding of their cattle,” the statement said.
Governor Umahi, who also served as the Chairman National Economic Council sub Technical Committee on Farmers and Herdsmen clashes, disclosed that the committee had recommended the revamping of existing grazing reserve in Nigeria.
This, according to him, was to enable farmers have unhindered access to their farmlands while herdsmen rely solely on proceeds from the farmers.
He said: “Part of committee’s recommendations to the federal government was the revamping of grazing reserves in the North where all the cattle rearers in the South will take their cattle to these places and rely on the grasses that are grown in the South.
“The way it works is that the herdsmen will bring down their cows to the South-East and sell to us as meat while they will load the grasses which are grown here in the same vehicles with which they transported their cows to feed their cattle in those grazing reserve.
“With this proposed deal, herdsmen are expected to embrace anti-open grazing by returning to the ranches in the North and do their business on the trade by barter basis of selling cows to the South and buying grass to feed their cows in the North.”