NOTHING STANDS AGAINST THE PEOPLES WILL, and a stitch in time saves nine. Nigerian people stood, in unanimity, against government foisting controversial “Ruga Settlement” programme, across states of the federation, whether the states key into it or not. Ruga Settlement was an initiative of Nigeria’s Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
It involves the settlement of animal farmers/herders in designated locations across states of the federation by Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The settlements would be provided basic amenities such as schools, hospitals, road networks, vet clinics and markets, among others.
Given claims that there are grand plots by some elements in the country to impose Fulani and Islamic agenda on Nigeria, announcement of implementation of “Ruga Settlement” became contentious issue in the country. President Buhari’s government spokespersons, did little to assuage the palpable fears, that engulfed sections of the country, even though some analysts see the programme as government good intention to solve farmers/herders crisis.
It is, usually, not possible to add value to people, when the people are not taken seriously or valued? Analysts believe that Nigerian government has not been consistent in demonstrating people value, in the way it has been dealing with critical issues affecting the people in the country since inception of the administration in 2015.
What are the characteristics of people value? What is the principle behind government, internationally, investing in a fraction of its people, and forcing them across sections of the country; which promoters of “Ruga Settlement” said was in the best interest of the people concerned? And how would the perceived government good intention be viewed and explained? These are what government should have given careful thought, before muting the programme.
Reactions to “Ruga Settlement” were vast critical comments and protests from Nigerians, as a result of distrust, of perhaps, what could be the real good intention of government. Rising from National Economic Council, NEC, Committee meeting, on Farmers/Herders Crisis, chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, recently, government announced the suspension of the programme.
David Umahi, Governor of Ebonyi State, south-east Nigeria briefed journalists after the meeting. He said: “We, the NEC Committee on Farmers/Herders Crisis under the chairmanship of the Vice President, met today to deliberate on the approved programme of the NEC and Federal Government tagged, NLTP.
“We are aware that the president has suspended the implementation of `Ruga’ Programme initiated and being implemented by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources. This is because it is not consistent with the NEC and Federal Government’s approved NLTP.
“NLTP has programmes of rehabilitation of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, resulting from the crisis and also development of ranching in any willing state of the federation; the word is willing state of the federation. Its beauty is that what NEC and the Federal Government approved is a voluntary programme to all the 36 states, which may like to participate. So, it is not compulsory; it is for any state that is willing, will key into the programme’’, Umahi said.
He further stated that any state interested in the programme was required to bring up its own development plan that would be keyed into Federal Government implementation programme. Umahi said, each willing state is expected to come up with a plan unique to the state, based on the challenges it has in connection with the farmers/herders crisis.
By suspending the “Ruga Settlement” programme, in preference to National Economic Council, NEC, National Livestock Transformation Plan, NLTP, government bowed to pressure from critics of the programme, who consistently remarked that the programme was capable of “setting the country on fire”.
Nigerians stiff resistance to “Ruga Settlement” should remind government that good relationship with the people holds the key to success in winning with the people. Every lasting relationship, occasionally, suffers strains and setbacks. Because no two people agree on everything – even the best friendship get strains. But when carefully managed, it brings the best out of people.
Sydney J. Harris, an author, said, about the importance of communication: “It is impossible to learn anything important about anyone until we get him or her to disagree with us; it is only in contradiction that character is disclosed.” And it is sustained by intentional communication.