The presidency yesterday announced the suspension of the Ruga settlement saying it was not consistent with the approved National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP).
Presidency sources said the promoters of the Ruga programme, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources proceeded with it implementation as against NLTP developed by the NEC and approved by the Federal Government.
Daily Trust further gathered that President Muhammadu Buhari suspended the Ruga programme on Tuesday evening when he discovered that it was different from the NLTP.
Our correspondent reports that the suspension of the Ruga project was officially announced at the end a meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the State House, Abuja.
The meeting was attended by Governor Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Deputy Governor of Adamawa State Mr Seth Crowther and Permanent Secretary of Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Permanent Secretary of Federal Ministry of Agriculture Mohammed Bello Umar.
Briefing journalists at the end of the meeting, Umahi said the National Livestock Transformation Plan was voluntary for any willing state in the country.
"We the National Economic Council (NEC) committee on farmers/ herders crisis under the chairmanship of HE Mr. Vice President met today (yesterday) to deliberate on the approved programme of NEC and Federal Government, tagged, 'the National Livestock Transformation Plan."
"We are aware that today (yesterday) that Mr. President has suspended the implementation of Ruga programme, initiated and being implemented by the Federal ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, because it is not consistent with the NEC and Federal Government approved National Livestock Transformation Plan which has programmes of rehabilitation of displaced IDPs, resulting from the crisis and also development of ranches in any willing state of the Federation. The word is 'willing' state of the federation," he said.
He further said, "The National Livestock Transformation Plan, its beauty is that what NEC and FG approved is a voluntary programme to all the 36 states who may like to participate. So, it is not compulsory, it is for any state that is willing, will key into the programme.
"Any state that is interested in this programme is required to bring up a development plan that is keyed towards the implementation in line with our own programme here that is unique to his state based on the challenges that he has in respect of the crisis. That's the decision of this committee."
What the livestock plans says about Ruga
Meanwhile, a presidency source said the contract sums allocated for various aspects of the Ruga programme were overpriced and incurred the wrath of the president.
The source told our correspondent that, "For instance purchases of solar panels were put at tens of millions of naira each, while boreholes were also to be procured at an average cost of N20m each."
The Advisor, Agriculture Interventions Coordination, Office of the Vice President, Dr Andrew Kwasari, had in May this year told Daily Trust that "We just concluded the survey of peace agencies or framework in each of the states under the Justice and Peace Pillar of the NLTP in the seven pilot states to anchor the reconciliation, justice, and peace activities properly. We are also finalizing the reconstruction of destroyed communities.
"We have surveyed over 4,000 destroyed homes, markets, churches and mosques in the affected communities in seven states, we have also gone to BPP with requests to give no objection for the Ruga model support for the non-ranching option of the plan. We have received no objection from BPP and FEC has approved the provision of seeds, agrochemicals and fertilizer for the affected crop farmers in the affected communities."
'Suspension not solution to the problem'
An agriculturist, Mr John Oyebode, yesterday described the suspension of the Ruga settlement initiative as just a reaction to the critics of the policy, but not a solution to the problem it intends to solve.
Mr. Oyebode, in a telephone chat with Daily Trust last night, said it was unfortunate that instead of uniting to find solution to the long-aged farmers/herders crisis in the country many are viewing all efforts put forward to solve the problem with biased minds.
"The government suggested ranches, it was kicked against; cattle colonies, the same thing happens and now adopting the London existed Ruga settlement, some are crying out. Yet none of them is putting forward a solution," the farmer said.
Mr Oyebode welcomes the decision of the federal government to suspend the initiative in the interest of peace and appealed to the stakeholders in the sector to come up with acceptable solution to the crisis.
"Definitely, we can't continue with the crisis, which is even turning into a dangerous dimension like bandit, rustling and kidnapping .Government also need to take bold decision on this and try to enlighten all the stakeholders on the need to collectively solve the problem," he said.
Also speaking, Mr Joseph Jezhi, a farmer in Suleja, Niger State, urged government at all levels to collectively find a lasting solution to the problem of farmers/herders crisis. Jezhi, who is also a livestock farmer, observes that for the country to be self-sufficient in food production, sincere efforts must be made to find lasting solution to the problem.
"You can say you are pursuing food security by concentrating on crop farming alone, provision must be made for livestock owners too, especially in face of current security challenges partly being linked to the crisis," he said.
He called on relevant stakeholders to come together in a patriotic manner and find workable solutions to the problem.