The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev Alfred Adewale Martins, has counseled the Government on the possible consequences of acquiring lands across the federation for the purpose of creating rural grazing areas.
The Archbishop, in a statement while commending President Muhammadu Buhari for his bold step in suspending the RUGA project in response to the high tension the issue had generated, also implored him to resist the temptation of going back to it or any similar project that leave an impression of wanting to promote the welfare, economy and preservation of any one section of the country over others. Such a move, he warned, if encouraged, will undoubtedly, further divide the nation along ethnic and possibly religious lines, thereby impacting negatively on the well-being of all Nigerians.
“At the moment, we gathered that despite the suspension of the RUGA scheme, there is a plan by some to move for the repeal the Land Use Act in order to accommodate the scheme. Any step in that direction will leave no one in doubt that the Government is really not interested in settling the so-called herdsmen/farmer clashes. A bill to tamper with the present land use arrangement at this time cannot but heat up the polity, if indeed, it is being contemplated.
Any proposed solution to the problem should be put in the public domain for discussion so that it may have the desired effect. It is not enough for the Federal Executive Council, National Economic Council or any other organ of government to sit in a room and take the decision without sampling the opinion of citizens, given the volatile nature of the issues at stake. It is even more ridiculous that a ministry without a substantive Minister is presuming to announce and implement such a monumental “decision”. The RUGA Scheme as presently conceived for implementation is ill-conceived and skewed to create disaffection and divide the country and must be totally abandoned so that a better solution to the problem can be reached.”
Rather than dissipate energy on the RUGA settlement project and other similar ideas, Archbishop Martins advised the government of President Buhari to commit more resources to securing our national borders, mop up small arms that are so easily available and be decisive in bringing anyone who unleashes violence on others to book irrespective of who they may be. That would create confidence in the attempt of government to deal with the so-called herdsmen/ farmers clashes.
He warned that if the perpetrators of the killings and kidnappings across the country were not urgently identified and dealt with according to the law of the land, it may give the wrong impression that impunity, murder and reckless disregard for constitutional authority by a group of outlaws remains the surest way of attracting the favour and patronage of the government.
The clergy urged every well-meaning Nigerian to pray for the peace of the nation and for the those in government so that common good will be guide of the actions and decisions of those who govern at all levels in the nation.