Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State says his administration has commenced the provision of social amenities to about 3,000 RUGA settlements across the state.
Bagudu disclosed this when he addressed State House correspondents in Abuja.
He said the state government was providing schools, water, healthcare and veterinary services to uplift the quality of life of the herders as well as to check possible farmers/herdsmen conflicts in the state.
According to him, RUGA is not a Fulani or Hausa word, explaining that it is an acronym given to Nigeria by its colonialists for Rural Grazing Area.
“We have since that time appreciated that there are users of land for economic activities that involve movement, it is better to help them.
“Since then, (the Fulanis) stay in one place, provide water for them, veterinary services, schools and hospitals to better their lot – their children can attend school and benefit from government like other communities.
“If you go to any state with significant Fulani population, the places where Fulani live are largely called Ruga.
“Like in Kebbi, we have over 3,000 Rugas, they are very small settlements. I as the state governor, I am doing the bit that I can to provide water, schools, veterinary services, primary healthcare in those settlements.
“And the more you do that, the yield per animal increases, they live better life and you have less conflict within the state,’’ he maintained.
The governor dismissed the assertion that the RUGA policy was being forced on state governments by the Federal Government.
He added that the federal government did not request any state to provide land for the scheme.
“I am not aware of it. The federal government requested states that have Fulani settlements like Kebbi to indicate how much support they want so that we can have more hospitals, water supply, veterinary services and schools in those places.
“Like I have said, I have over 3,000 Ruga settlements in Kebbi state, so the whole N12.2 billion that has been earmarked (by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in the 2019 budget), if you give it to Kebbi state, we will use it for less than 1,000 RUGAs.
“So, I think it is a very commendable initiative and as part of our national food security initiative, national prosperity, we should support all economic initiatives.
“Once we achieve less movement, some of the conflicts causing behaviour will lessen and I think that is the big lesson,’’ he said.