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RUGA Gets N2.2bn in 2019 Budget

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By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly (Senate) Matters, Senator Ita Enang has called on States in the southern part of the country to support the implementation of the proposed Ruga cattle settlement programme by making land available.

The Presidential aide disclosed that a whopping N2.

258 billion was provided for the implementation of the Ruga programme in the 2019 budget.

Enang is who made the appeal at the weekend when he hosted Students of Law School Abuja from Akwa Ibom State, said that the word – Ruga is not derived from Hausa or Fulani, but an acronym for Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) initiated in 1956 during the colonial era and is not intended to islamize, fulanized or colonize anybody.

Supporting his claims, Enang cited the 2019 federal budget, volume 1 under the ministry of agricultural and rural development item number ERGP 5208 where the sum of N2.258bn was provided and budgeted for the grazing programme.

He maintained that the national assembly members are not against the Ruga programme because they aware of it and had been approving funds for it’s implementation.

Besides the over N2 billion appropriated for the Ruga there were also budgeted sum of N300 million for water sanitation, N400 million development for sweet potatoes, N350 million for ginger development amongst several other budgeted.

He said that the ruga policy is just one component of the budget under the ministry of agriculture.

Though President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered the suspension of the Programme following a widespread protest against the implementation of the Programme in most states across the country especially in the middle belt and southern region.

But the presidential aide stressed that the objective of the budget for ruga is to promote cattle breeding and meet production.

He explained that the ruga programme is an integrated farm system which has schools, good road, tractors and mechanisatiom, agricultural integration.

with a provision for primary healthcare, vetinery, schools.

Senator Enang callee on the governor of Akwa Ibom State to also provide land for the establishment of RUGA in the states while urging the federal government to include his state amongst the benefiting states.

He, however, disclosed that asides the budgeted sum for Ruga in the 2019 expenditure, there is another sum provided for the emergency Ruga implementation programme approved in May by the National Economic Council for states that will make land available.

Enang said that since 1999 he has been hosting students of Law School from Akwa Ibom State but this was specifically to enlighten them on the objective of Ruga programme against the misconceptions making the orunds .

Enang served in the House of Representatives from 1999 to 2011, the elected senate in 2011 to 2015 and appointed SSA to the President on National Assembly (Senate) matters to date.

”One of the rumours was that President Buhari was going to acquire land people’s feed cow, ” he said.

He asked the law students one after the other what they know about Ruga and each and everyone gave his view on the issue.

Some said they have not known much about the real issue because government was yet to enlighten them on it.

Senator Enang said that Ruga is not a Hausa or Fulani word but an acronym for Rural Grazing Areas.

According to him the Ruga programme started in Nigeria since 1956, adding that it is not only for rearing cattle but farming and rearing of other animals.

”Ruga is not a plan to seize land from people neither and it’s not meant to fulanize or colonize anybody.

”The Programme is meant to address the issue of cattle roaming and destruction of farmland which would put an end to the herders/farmers crisis, ” Enang explained.

According to the presidential aide, people in the south have farm settlements and plantations which he equates to Ruga.

”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.

”Over time cattle roamed and destroyed farms hence the introduction of the policy to address the issue, ” he said.

He noted that in places like the north, earth dams were constructed to cater for cattle.

He expressed shocks over the inability of some states governors to understand the policy.

One of the first Ruga programmes is Obudu Cattle Ranch and the Yankari Games Reserve.

He said that every year there has been allocation for the continuous  funding of grazing areas.

The height of the herders/farmers crisis led to the introduction of the ruga policy May 8, by the federal government mostly in the middle belt region and some states in North east and north west.

He said that it was the National Economic Council (NEC) that approved the establishment of the emergency Ruga policy but wondered by some governors were denying been part of the approval.

The FG is not any way trying to takeover anybody’s land for ruga adding that land under the land use act is on the hands of state government.

He faulted the claims by some governors that it was meant to Fulanize peole.

He said that the emergency ruga programme did not involve any state in the South East, South West and the South South because the areas that had the problems were about 10 states mainly North Central, and few states in North West and North East.

Responding to questions from the law students he said in most places wealth is measured by the number of cattle one has.

Senator Enang said that people in the southern part of the country preferred the local cow because it’s more nutritious than the ones brought from the north.

He urged the states in the south to open up their lands for ruga.

He said those in the habit of abusing their leaders who buy into the ruga programme are not well informed on the policy adding that their representatives in the national assembly unanimously passed the budget for Ruga and the ministers from all the states of the federation also approved the ruga at NEC.

He further highlighted that each state has a representative at the Federal executive council just like NASS.

He said that the president is very sensitive to the plight of Nigerian hence the call for the suspension of the Ruga picy.

The Ruga is an investment programme that will generate money for the state and the country at large.

Ruga (Rural Grazing Areas) started in 1956.

He appealed to all Nigerians to stop politicizing the implementation of the ruga policy.

He said that if lawyers understand, the world will understand.

The students appreciated the senator appealing to government to increase its public enlightenment programme to enable the citizens understand better its policies and programmes in order to avoid rancor.

Ndifrake Inyang, leader of the Akwa Ibom State Students of the Nigerian Law School, Abuja Campus, said: “We came here today to pay a courtesy call on Senator Ita Enang in keeping with his 20 years tradition of hosting law students being that he is a lawyer we came to learn from his wealth of experience.

“Today the distinguished senator took a different dimension by enlightening us on the issue of Rural Grazing Area (RUGA).

I recalled that about two months ago there was crisis in Taraba and Benue states. While I was growing up in my own place (Cross River State) we had a similar issue and this has been on for many years.

“Personally, I didn’t have the right notion about RUGA but I reserved my comment on that at that time because as a lawyer you don’t have to talk until you know all the facts. So having known the facts about the entire process, I am happy and I am in better position to educate others on the subject matter.

“Sincerely speaking the RUGA is something that everybody would want to have because of the economic derivatives. I also want the RUGA settlement in my state Akwa Ibom so that there will be employment and our people can benefit from it and also put to an end the national crisis so that we will have one peace Nigeria.”

Another law student Anastasia Ligiounim Ugbaka, an indigene of Obudu, Cross River State, said that the notion by most Nigerians is that the federal government want to take land from the people and islamize the country the RUGA programme.

She urged the government to expand the Obudu Cattle ranch and increase the number of cattle and other animals so as to create jobs.

She advised the federal government that when implement the RUGA policy they should go about it with caution so as not to ignite crisis because some people still hold divergence view on the issue.


Agriculture

NCP Approves Repositioning of Agriculture Bank

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja 

The National Council on Privatisation (NCP) has given its nod to the recommendations aimed at repositioning the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) to ensure food security for Nigerians.

Chaired by the Vice President, Sen. Kashim Shettima, the NCP approved the recommendations from the committee on BOA during its second meeting of 2024 held on Wednesday, April 24, 2024, at the Presidential Villa Abuja.

In his address at the meeting, the Vice President emphasized the importance of optimizing BOA as part of the administration’s agenda to provide food security for the nation.

He urged the committee to engage professionals with integrity to manage the process effectively.

Presenting the committee’s report, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr. Wale Edun, who is also the Vice-chairman of the NCP, highlighted the decision to reposition BOA for efficiency and effectiveness. He expressed confidence that the recommendations would guide the Council in revitalizing the Bank of Agriculture and positioning it globally.

One of the Key recommendations includes upgrading the Bank’s ICT infrastructure to automate processes and ensure accountability.

Recall that in 2023, an 8-member inter-ministerial team was set up by the NCP to review the state of affairs at BOA, given its critical role in agriculture and the administration’s commitment to food security. 

Additionally, in 2016, the NCP approved collaboration between the Bureau of Public Enterprises and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, along with the Federal Ministry of Finance, to restructure and recapitalize BOA.

According to a statement by BPE Head of Public Communications, Amina Tukur Othman on Friday, the BOA, formerly known as Nigeria Agricultural Cooperative and Rural Development Bank, waa established in 1992. 

It is owned by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN), with the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MOFI) holding 60% and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) holding 40%. The Bank is supervised by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (FMAFS).

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Agriculture

Mrs Soludo Launches Organic Garden Competition in Anambra Secondary Schools

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Wife of the Anambra State Governor, Dr Nonye Soludo, on Saturday launched the organic garden competition in secondary schools in Anambra to encourage children to learn more about food and farming.

Soludo, while addressing Healthy Living Teacher Ambassadors in Awka, said the organic garden competition would help teach children the importance of food and farming and its impact on their lives.

She described organic farming as a process that involved the use of natural food sources and nutrients for farming practices without fertiliser or other chemicals.

“This competition is part of the Healthy Living with Nonye Soludo Campaign to achieve a culture of health consciousness, drive organic agriculture with emphasis on food safety and sustainable living.

“It will help our students learn valuable lessons about where their food comes from, the benefits of eating fresh and healthy foods, and how to care for the environment.

“Vegetable seeds will be distributed to schools and at the end of every term, schools with the three best gardens will be rewarded.

“Our children at a tender age will start to appreciate agriculture as an essential way of life and the need to be part of building solutions that foster healthy foods in the society,” she said.

Also speaking, Dr Afam Obidike, the state’s Commissioner for Health, said the schools garden competition would increase student’s knowledge about the nutritional value of foods.

In her remarks, Prof. Nkechi Ikediugwu, Chairperson, Post Primary Schools Service Commission, said schools in the state would offer Health Living lecture every Wednesday after break to help students learn how to be healthy and grow into healthy adults.

Reports says that the programme featured distribution of okro, carrot, pepper, tomatoes, watermelon and cucumber seeds to the school teachers to begin the process of their school gardens.(NAN)

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Agriculture

Food Inflation: Agric Ministry Receives 2.15m Bags of Fertilisers from CBN

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The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security has received 2.15 million bags of assorted fertilisers from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Reports says that the assorted fertilisers would be distributed to farmers to curb food inflation in the country as well as boost food production and food security.

Sen. Abubakar Kyari, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, who spoke at the event on Wednesday in Abuja, expressed gratitude to the President Bola Tinubu and CBN for the gesture.

Kyari assured the CBN Governor,  Mr Olayemi Cardoso, that the inputs would be judiciously used and delivered to the intended farmers.

“Thank you very much; this is more than goodies; 2.

15 million bags of assorted fertilisers; we want to express our profound appreciation on behalf of the Nigerian farmers and President Tinubu.

“Also, we appreciate you, our dear brother, the CBN governor and your team for giving us this wonderful gift.

“I want to assure you that it will be judiciously used and it will be delivered to the last man and intended farmers where they can reap the benefits of this huge gesture.

“They (farmers) can in turn cultivate and produce more that would stem the galloping food inflation that is affecting our country.’’

He said that challenges such as food prices, food cultivation, flooding and climate change among others had impacted on agricultural production in the country, adding that insecurity was on decline.

“l am happy to say that those things I mentioned are on the decline; insecurity is on the decline and we are mitigating against climate change.

“We are sensitising farmers to go into dry season agriculture.’’

Kyari said that there was need to need to boost and repair irrigation infrastructure so as to have all year round farming.

“Which (irrigation) is even more secured than that of the wet season farming,” he said.

Earlier, Cardoso expressed enthusiasm for the visit and presentation which was to address the issue of escalating cost of food in the country.

According to him, food prices are crucial components of inflation.

He said that the CBN aimed to enhance its partnership with the ministry to improve food production.

“This is precisely why we convene today to strengthen our collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture to mitigate the surge in food prices.

“The gesture is in alignment with our strategic shift towards focusing on our fundamental mandate.

“The CBN has veered away from direct quasi-fiscal interventions and transitioned towards leveraging conventional monetary policy tools for executing monetary policies effectively.

“In this light, we aim to extend our support and foster closer ties with Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) with the mandate and expertise to undertake these critical initiatives.

“Consequently, we aim to enhance our partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, bolstering your endeavours to enhance food productivity and security, ultimately curbing food inflation and fortifying our pursuit of price stability.

“In pursuit of these shared goals, we are delighted to announce the allocation of 2.15 million bags of fertilisers valued at over N100 billion which we humbly hand over to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.

“This contribution from CBN aims to amplify food production capabilities and foster price stabilisation within the agricultural sector,” he said.(NAN)

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