THE Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Adewale Martins, has advised Federal Government to jettison the idea of acquiring lands across the country for the purpose of creating rural grazing areas.
Martins, in a statement on Wednesday, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his bold step in suspending the RUGA project in response to the high tension which the issue had generated.
RUGA is a scheme designed to settle herdsmen and their cattle on acquired land in states in the federation.
It is one of the recent of many solutions offered by the Federal Government to resolve the frequent farmers/herdsmen crisis in the country.
Martins implored Buhari to resist the temptation of going back to it or any similar project that leave an impression of wanting to promote welfare, economy and preservation of one section of the country over others.
The Archbishop said: “Such a move, if encouraged, will undoubtedly, further divide the nation along ethnic and possibly religious lines, thereby impacting negatively on the wellbeing of all Nigerians.
“At the moment, we gathered that despite the suspension of the RUGA scheme, there is a plan by some to move for the repeal of Land Use Act in order to accommodate the scheme.
“Any step in that direction will leave no one in doubt that the Federal Government is really not interested in settling the so-called herdsmen/farmer clashes.
“A bill to tamper with the present Land Use arrangement at this time cannot, but heat up the polity, if indeed, it is being contemplated.
“Any proposed solution to the problem should be put in the public domain for discussion so that it may have the desired effect.
“It is not enough for the Federal Executive Council, National Economic Council or any other organ of government to sit in a room and take decision without sampling the opinion of citizens, given the volatile nature of the issues at stake.
“It is even more ridiculous that a ministry without a substantive Minister is presuming to announce and implement such a monumental `decision’.
“The RUGA Scheme, as presently conceived for implementation is ill-conceived and skewed to create disaffection and divide the country, and must be totally abandoned so that a better solution to the problem can be reached.”
Martins advised President Buhari-led government to commit more resources to securing our national borders, mop up small arms that are so easily available and be decisive in bringing anyone who unleashes violence on others to book.
“That would create confidence in the attempt of government to deal with the so-called herdsmen/farmers clashes.
“If perpetrators of the killings and kidnappings across the country were not urgently identified and dealt with, it may give the wrong impression.
“That impunity, murder and reckless disregard for constitutional authority by a group of outlaws remain the surest way of attracting the favour and patronage of the government.’’
The archbishop urged every well-meaning Nigerians to pray for peace of the nation and for those in government so that common good would be guide of the actions and decisions of those who govern at all levels. (NAN)
– July 10, 2019 @ 18:05 GMT |