Nigeria: How Buhari Ordered Suspension of Ruga Programme

(file photo).
4 July 2019

Abuja — President Muhammadu Buhari suspended the controversial "Ruga" programme in anger, saying that its implementation is at variance with the National Livestock Transformation Plan, NLTP, developed by the National Economic Council and approved by the Federal Government.

Insider sources explained that the President, on hearing about the Ruga programme first expressed surprise that it did not conform with the terms of the NLTP.

It was learned that the President then ordered a swift review of what Ruga was about and sought clarifications on its connection with the NLTP.

It was gathered that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development which was driving the Ruga programme could not provide satisfactory explanation.

The Presidential source said: "The President was annoyed that the plan, promoted by senior officials in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and other FG officials, purports to use gazetted lands in the states for purposes of building Ruga settlements without carrying along the states, creating a wrong impression that the FG was trying to take over land belonging to states and the people in those states.

"The Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, according to sources, had also strongly resisted the Ruga plan, arguing that it made nonsense of the NLTP, a very deliberate and elaborate plan developed by NEC, under his watch, and a plan which the FG had okayed."

When news about Ruga broke, it immediately raised widespread controversy as state governors and other interests expressed surprise about how it was developed and the fact that there were no consultations with states.

It was also gathered that there was visible panic in the Villa on Monday when senior officials in the President's office tried to get information about Ruga and its connection with the NLTP, although some in the office had tried to suggest that Ruga and NLTP were the same.

It was learned that the President later discovered that not only was Ruga not under the VP, but that the programme was not in alignment with the NLTP.

It was that discovery that led to the presidential directive to suspend the programme, yesterday.

It was also discovered that the contract sums allocated for various aspects of the Ruga programme were heavily overpriced, and this incurred the wrath of the President.

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 Vice President had been publicly drawn into the fray last Friday when the Secretary of MACBAN, Baba Uthman Ngelzarma, claimed on a TV interview that Ruga was being supervised by the Office of the VP.

An angry VP same day issued a disclaimer, disclosing that his office was not supervising Ruga, but NLTP.

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