Ganduje: Ruga Settlement Policy Misunderstood

Governor Umar Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State has inaugurated a 27-member committee to organize a national conference on reforms in the livestock, in a bid to put an end to the persistent conflict between sedentary farmers and nomadic herdsmen in the state, saying the Ruga settlement policy was misunderstood.

The 27-member conference committee is presided over by Prof. Attahiru Jega, a former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and also includes Prof. Jibrila Dahiru Amin, provost of Yusuf Maitama Sule University, and Mr Martins Oloja, managing director of the Guardian Newspaper. Malam Muhammad Garba, the commissioner for information for Kano State, serves as the committee’s secretary.

The Governor inaugurated the committee yesterday in Abuja and stated that its duties included choosing an appropriate conference theme and working toward planning and conducting an adequate national conference on Nigeria’s farmers-herders conflict.

He pointed out that his administration’s choice to conduct a national conference on “Livestock Reforms and Mitigation of Associated Conflicts in Nigeria” demonstrated its understanding that maintaining the rule of law was the main responsibility of the executive branch.

“It is regrettable that deficient political leadership, popular misperceptions about its purpose and widespread insecurity hindered its progress,” he noted.

He furthered: “There is also a clear sense which I think must be appreciated, that the federal government cannot dictate to states what to do with their land.

“This is so because the Land Use Act of 1978 puts land under the control of governors on behalf of their states.

”Even for use of federal lands in the states according to the Supreme Court, building or development control permit must be sought from the governors of the states.

“I am a strong proponent of restriction of herders’ movements into Nigeria from neighbouring countries, as part of solutions to tackling herder/farmer clashes. However, another issue worth taking into account is the ECOWAS Transhumance Protocol, which Nigeria signed in 1998. This guarantees free movement to pastoralists, and herders across the sub-region. As signatories to that Protocol, Nigeria is obliged not to restrict the movement of herders and their cattle from other ECOWAS countries. This is an issue to be looked into.

“This has added a further complication to the problems we already have. Besides, most foreign herdsmen are exposed to the firearms market and are unknown to the local farming populace.”

On efforts to resolve the conflict in Kano, he said: “We started by mobilizing security agencies and hence the formation of a Police Anti-Cattle Rustling Squad, Ambush Squad and Tactical Observation points along the Falgore Forest.

The police teams were deployed to Tundun Wada, Doguwa and Sumaila local government areas of the state, and were given all the support they need to arrest the rustlers and prevent further loss of cattle in the state.

“A military formation was also established in the forest to further reinforce the police effort, in addition to the construction of four prototype security dormitories at Kano entrances that included rearing industry from socio-cultural to socio-economic venture.

” It also aimed at putting an end to the persistent wandering of herdsmen and also help expand them economically. The Kano State bureau of statistics has undertaken a statistic of all herdsmen in Kano for planning purposes.”

To stop the flow of small arms and disarm the armed pastoralists and bandits that routinely cross borders, Ganduje also urged for increased cooperation with neighbours in the Chad Basin, particularly border communities.

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