Following the suspension of the Ruga settlement project, the Fulani herdsmen have been beckoned on by the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), to transfer to the north if their safety cannot be assured by the state government as well as federal government where they settle.
This was announced yesterday, the 16th of July by the Chairman of NEF, Prof. Ango Abdulahi and the spokesman of CNG, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman while speaking with newsmen.
Having commended the approach of the northern youths in welcoming the Ruga settlement which generated a lot of controversies and spite among states, Abdulahi stressed that the declaration made by the CNG 14 days ago had generated reactions from the southern leaders.
Prior to now, the outrage exhibited by millions of Nigerians at the announcement of the Ruga settlement project made the Federal Government suspend it on July 3. The suspension, however, got the Northerners displeased.
The CNG on getting the news of its suspension threatened that if the project was not initiated before thirty days, all non-northerners residing in the north will be expelled with violence.
Abdulahi condemned the manner in which leaders from different sections of the country reacted to the Ruga project. According to him, they should have exercised some restraint considering the sensitive nature of the issue.
He urged that the NEF will do all it can to ensure that the rift among northerners and non-northerners does not metamorphose to a breakdown of law and order in the country.
“I think that the NEF will like to take this opportunity to emphasize to the leadership here in the north, as well as leadership elsewhere in the country that this is a country we all wish to keep together, but then, it cannot be at the expense of any other section.
Speaking further concerning the wellbeing of the herdsmen, Abdullahi said “Now, certainly we are worried about their safety like we are worried about the safety of every Nigerian who decided to live wherever they want to.
The NEF Chairman noted that if there was no certainty that their safety will be guaranteed by the authorities that are immediately around them or by the authorities that have the responsibility for the overall security of all Nigerians wherever they reside, “we would rather have them back into areas where their safety is guaranteed, and this is coming back as much as possible to the north”.
However, Abdullahi noted that if there will be any form of compensation, there should be a judicial public inquiry or panel for people – herdsmen and farmers – to come and make their claim, adding that if the compensation would be paid by the government it should be to all sides.