Northern governors dump Ruga for livestock plan – TODAY

Simon Lalong

Governors of 19 Northern states on Thursday dumped the proposed controversial Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) policy for the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP).

The governors who met in Kaduna, capital of Kaduna State under the aegis of the Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF) said the new plan will tackle regular clashes in the region between herders and farmers.

The governors also resolved to continue to adopt a sustainable and holistic approach towards tackling the security challenges in the region.

Forum Chairman and Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong said at the opening that the NGF had raised a committee under the chairmanship of Katsina State Governor Aminu Bello Masari to develop a comprehensive regional action plan to tackle insecurity in the North.

He said: “Another major issue we shall also deliberate on is the livestock management in the country and, in particular, our region, which has continued to generate discourse, controversy, misinformation and even politicisation.

“At this meeting, we shall deliberate on the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP), which was commissioned by the National Economic Council chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) and seeks to support and strengthen the development of market-driven ranches in the livestock ecosystem for improved productivity through breed improvement, pasture production, efficient land and water utilisation.

“As a region that holds the comparative advantage in livestock management as an economic and socio-cultural vocation, we need to come up with a common front on how to synergise and draw from the funds available for the programme and ensure that we derive maximum benefits for our people.

“This is important because of the urgent need to cultivate the buy-in of all stakeholders and provide a conducive environment for nomadic herders and those who rear livestock, using the private/public partnership model to key into the National Livestock Transformation Plan of the Federal Government.”

Lalong told reporters that the NGF adopted the NLTP, which according to him, “lays out clear path for modernising pastoral activities”.

He said: “On agriculture, the forum was well-informed about the NLTP and its disparities with the RUGA plan. It is expected that the plan would ensure resettling and addressing the dislocated populations in the key conflict zones to enable them become part of the agricultural modernisation process.

“In the same vein, it would provide a mechanism for peaceful dialogue and reconciliation in the affected communities towards a harmonious mutually beneficial future.

“The forum, therefore, adopted the National Livestock Transformation Plan which lays out clear path for modernising pastoral activities. It further encouraged other states not included as pilot states to endeavour to join the plan.”

On the security challenges, Lalong said: “The current challenges of insecurity which seems to be persisting despite the concerted efforts by all tiers of government was also deliberated based on insightful analyses and the best possible ways to address the menace which is currently bedeviling the region.

“Consequently the forum resolved to continue to adopt a sustainable and holistic approach towards tackling this challenge in the region.

“It is the forum’s unwavering determination to rescue the region and reposition it to meet the yearnings and aspirations of our people, especially in the areas of security, economy and social development.”

Lalong said the forum has received a brief on the almajiri phenomenon in Northern Nigeria, which he said, is not only endemic but pandemic.

He said: “We noted the challenges of the system despite its conception on high religious and moral importance. Currently, many children are increasingly exposed to vulnerability and resultant exploitation, thereby making them susceptible to criminal activities.

“The forum after in-depth discussions, resolved to collaborate with experts in this field with a view to finding implementable recommendations to solve the almajiri phenomenon and take children out of the streets.”

Benue State Deputy Governor Benson Abuonu gave a condition for the implementation of NLTP.

The deputy governor, who represented Governor Samuel Ortom at the meeting, said: “One thing is fundamental, as far as the implementation is concerned, whichever state that has keyed into the programme will have it as its own programme, in other words it is going to be owned by the state even if some help regarding the funding is going to come from the Federal Government.

“Of course, it depends on whichever state is willing to key into it. But at this initial stage, there are seven states at the pilot stage but with regards to Benue, whatever is going to happen in this area of animal husbandry that thing has to be in conformity with the local laws of Benue that is in existence.

“Principally that law says there should be no open grazing and there should be ranching of animals that anybody is going to rear.

“Therefore, as long as the programme is in conformity with our laws then it would be acceptable to us.”

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