The Federal Capital Territory detachment of elite of Tiv nationality are waiting for a formal abrogation of the RUGA policy response to the herdsmen crisis Nigeria is experiencing. They are also advising against any attempt at enforcing the principles of RUGA under the guise of National Livestock Transformation Plan or any other such policy. In the opinion of The Forum of Tiv Professionals, these are no more than planned seizure of ancestral lands of the people in Benue for the Fulani herders who they say are, however, not indigenous to Benue State and cannot have such special treatment.
According to Chief Mike Towua and Paul Vingil who signed a statement as the president and secretary respectively of the elite platform, such would not be the right thing for the Federal Government to do in the circumstance. RUGA does not speak to the aftermath of the phenomenon of the killing of farmers in Benue State by violent herdsmen and open grazing will be a permanent invitation to collision between farmers and herders, said the statement which urges the government to play the listener to the voices of reason from some senior citizens who have spoken on the issue.
The statement named Prof Wole Soyinka, Chief Edwin Clark, socio-cultural organisations like Mdzough U Tiv, Idoma National Forum, Ominy’Iegede, Middle Belt Forum, South-South Peoples Assembly as such voices.
Contrasting RUGA, Cattle Routes, Grazing Reserves and Cattle Colonies and all such policies being put on the table by the Buhari administration, it places its support for ranching which it calls the global best practice in animal husbandry.
Benue State where the Tiv nationality is the dominant demographic and political player has been the hottest theatre of the herdsmen phenomenon, either in terms of the intensity of the violence or interpretation/opposition to it. This includes violence on Agatu in early 2016 to the killing of about 100 farmers in several villages in 2017 down to the enactment of the anti-open grazing law in the state. The law has, however, not stopped open grazing as it has intensified and many communities are groaning under the anti-farming impacts such as the land compacting that occurs wherever herds pass through. That is not to talk of the multiples of violence.
Meanwhile, reaction to it has created inter-personal, inter and intra-party and even family feuds across Benue State. The political divide arising from dispositions or perceived dispositions to the herdsmen violence in Benue State is deep. While some people are seen to be prone to what is seen as Fulanisation and Islamisation, others are seen to be the arrow heads in scuttling Fulanisation and Islamisation.
Why all these have heightened is what has not been conclusively explained. It is either the government is implicated or some interests, local and/or foreign, are out to get the country to implode. Whichever one is more true of the two, the Federal Government has not been sufficiently persuasive and convincing in its communication of the crisis, leaving so much gaps that anyone could exploit for personal and political mischief while the problems multiplies.