What does Ruga really mean? Some have said it is an Hausa term that means cow settlement while others say it’s an acronym for Rural Grazing Area (RUGA). Regardless of the origin and meaning of the name, the Ruga settlement project aims to secure land from “willing states,” build schools, clinics, houses and other infrastructure and settle the nomads in these states across the country.
Amid protests and condemnation from the general public, it was reported on Wednesday the 3rd of July that the Federal Government has announced the suspension of the planned Ruga settlement project. Before the suspension, Ruga settlement contracts have reportedly been awarded in 12 pilot states, including Plateau, Zamfara, Kaduna and Kano.
Suspension or not, the Federal Government of Nigeria has to know that Cattle ranching is an economic, social, political and security matter.
If they insist on doing it, then they must do it right. How so?
The matter needs to be viewed from a wholistic perspective. The current approach by the Federal Government to try to solve Nigeria’s cattle issues with the RUGA initiative will cause greater problems for the entire nation, our unity and the sovereignty of every state government.
How can the Government get it right?
1. Before they create such policies or initiatives, they ought to collectively examine factors that will influence an integrated planning system with all stakeholders, ranchers, land owners, state governments and the cattle rearers etc (The entire ecosystem must be considered) not just the interest of a few.
2. A quantitative (survey) and qualitative study which incorporates a SWOT analysis must be carried out before any decisions, initiatives or policies are put in place.
3. Empirical data and creative thinking methods must be used to arrive at a solution for all. As a forward thinking country that should now be using global best practices to arrive at decisions, it’s imperative that we start using data to formulate strategies, initiatives and policies.
The good of the Nigerian people must come first after-all government was installed by the people; they in turn must serve the people and if not, they’re not fit to be in office.
In summary, RUGA will not work but if the government insists on doing it, they must consider the following:
The sovereignty of the state governments, the rights of the land owners, farmers, the security of the people in the states, seamless access to the grazing lands, technology, access to markets and abattoirs and finally the creation of an integrating system.
Wholistic thinking is very important because the sum must always be greater than the parts. As a nation made up of very intelligent people, we cannot continue to do things like the unintelligent.