Friday Olokor and Chima Azubuike
The Presidency on Tuesday clarified that the National Livestock Transformation Plan of the Federal Government was not suspended.
While advising Nigerians not to worry about the 30 days ultimatum given by the Coalition of Northern Groups over the Ruga settlement project, the Presidency advised the CNG to respect the Office of the President which, it said, took the decision in the national interest.
The Senior Policy Adviser (Agriculture Interventions Coordination) in the Office of the Vice President, Dr. Andrew Kwasari, stated this in an interview with journalists in Abuja during a training session organised for the executives of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria and its officers in eight states considered to be flashpoints.
The training programme, which was jointly organised by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, had as its theme: “Dialogue and Negotiations: Why, when and how to be effective.”
Kwasari said, “The National Livestock Transformation Plan has not been suspended. In fact, it has been enhanced because Mr President, in his wisdom, has spoken and directed that this is the plan that we should be working around to implement.
“We will need all-encompassing committee of the National Economic Council, National Food Security Council, and the Federal Executive Council working together to deliver this plan. So, for us, this is the type of leadership that the country needs. So, there is no mention of suspension whatsoever for the NLTP.”
The spokesperson for CNG, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, in giving the 30-day ultimatum to state governors to accept the Ruga programme, had said the conspiracy to weaken the North had been perpetrated with the active connivance of some leaders from the region.
But Kwasari dismissed the threat, saying a large section of the citizenry was in solidarity with Buhari over the suspension of Ruga policy.
He said, “I think the President has the overwhelming support and his decision has resonated with the majority. I think we should not worry about the threats. They don’t earn my respect in anyway, I can’t support them. My support is for the President and the people of Nigeria.
“Their threat is divisive, I think these people should listen to the majority of this country and above all, accord respect to the office of the President, if they are true citizens of this country.
“The President took the decision to suspend the Ruga policy in the interest and common good of all Nigerians. Are we supposed to be concerned about rallying around the President who has taken a decision or a portion of society that feels otherwise for whatsoever reason? I don’t know whatever evidence that they have.”
Asked if he would demand their arrest, Kwasari said he was sure that the security architecture of the country had taken a strong stance against hate speech and divisive rhetoric.
“So, I’m sure that the appropriate age cues are considering whatever action they will take. What is within my power is to make sure that the President’s directive is obeyed”, he stated.
The Country Manager of CHD, Babatunde Afolabi, said the 18 MACBAN leaders were chosen from “seven frontline states and Katsina State.”
He said, “The training was informed by the need to build the capacity of the stakeholders that we consider to be pivotal in the peace process in Benue and Nasarawa states.
“If you are going to mediate in these two states in the farmers-herders crisis, then you should be talking to MACBAN and All Farmers’ Association with a view to building and enhancing their capacity on mediation and dialogue.”
The National Secretary of MACBAN, Baba Othman Ngelzarma, told journalists that “by training them, their capacity to mitigate crisis will be thorough. The training is timely because peace building is essential.”
“Peace is very essential in the communal peace and dialogue plan. There has to be initiative that will bring about understanding among communities, most importantly among the pastoral communities and other communities in the country. What is missing now is the peace that had existed in the past between the pastoralists and the communities across the nation.”