FROM SUNNY A. DAVID / AWKA
South-East Governors have denied allocating any portion of land in the region for the Ruga Fulani herdsmen settlement, even as they promised to tolerate herdsmen who carry out peaceful trade.
In a statement signed by the Director General of the South East Governors’ Forum, Prof. Uchenna Ortuanya, and was made available to our correspondent in Awka, said: “The attention of the South East Governors’ Forum has been drawn to the various attacks and campaign of calumny by our people alleging that governors of the South-East have secretly donated land for the Ruga programme being promoted by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) as approved by the National Economic Council (NEC).
“The fact remains that no South -East Governor has donated any land or intends to donate any land for any of the two programmes due to lack of enough land in the entire South -East.
“Governors of the South -East appreciate the fact that we have good and law abiding herdsmen who have been living with us. Some of them were even born here.
“We have been living in peace with them until recently when we started witnessing the invasion of our land, kidnapping of our people, killing of defenseless natives and the destruction of their farmlands.
“These herdsmen that have been living peacefully with us together with the natives have insisted that these evil now experienced in our land are the handiwork of herdsmen moving from other states into the South-East and most of the time, these herdsmen are not even Nigerians.
The Governors resolved: “They will not chase away herdsmen who are peaceful and have been living peacefully with us in the South-East.”
“We agreed with herdsmen living peacefully with us and the natives that the movement of cows into the southeast should be by road transportation using trailers to their specific cow markets.
“No more allowing foreign herdsmen to move their cattle by foot as this is the point of conflict with the farmers and natives.
“We do not have any land to donate for Ruga or NLTP programmes but we are committed to selling grass and by-product of our farms to support NLTP for states that have keyed into the programme.
“We believe that our brothers and sisters who are herdsmen deserve a better life and we commend Mr. President and the vice president for their good intentions in this direction. However, it must be emphasized that what Federal Government and NEC approved was NLTP and it is not compulsory for all the states but for any willing state that wants to participate in NLTP.
“We advise our kinsmen, women and indeed all Nigerians to please be careful with comments not to heat up the already charged state of Nigeria in this regard,” they stated.