Special adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Assembly matters, Senator Ita Enang, has said N2.2 billion has already been set aside in the 2019 budget for the implementation of Ruga settlement programme for herdsmen.
Enang who disclosed this while speaking with Akwa Ibom law school students in Abuja, argued that Ruga is not a derivative of Hausa or Fulfude, but an acronym for rural grazing area (RUGA) which, according to him, was initiated in 1956 during the colonial era.
The special adviser, according to the Cable, cited the 2019 federal budget, volume 1 under the ministry of agricultural and rural development item number ERGP 5208 where the sum of N2.258 billion was provided for the grazing programme.
He noted that members of the National Assembly were not against the programme because they are aware of it and had approved funds for its implementation.
He said besides funds provided for the programme, the sum of N300 million was also budgeted for water sanitation; N400 million for development for sweet potatoes and N350 million for ginger development.
Enang said the objective of the programme is to promote cattle breeding and meat production.
He also said there was another sum approved by the national economic council for states that would make land available.
”The idea of Ruga graduated in 1978 into the Land Use Act which states that a portion of land has to be reserved for grazing to avoid the destruction of farm produce by cattle,” he noted.
”Over time cattle roamed and destroyed farms hence the introduction of the policy to address the issue.’’
Enang also said every year there have been monetary allocations for the continuous funding of grazing areas.
He explained that the programme was a response to the herder-farmer crisis in the Middle Belt and in some states in North East and North West.
The Federal government had weeks ago, announced its intention to establish Ruga settlements for Fulani herdsmen across the country.
The announcement had generated outrage with many state governments rejecting the idea. The federal government subsequently announced that it was suspending the programme.
However, some states in the North East and North West have said they are proceeding with it.