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(Special Report) RUGA fears may frustrate Shippers’ Council TTP projects in South

Without the recently smuggled in suspension announcement of the establishment of Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) Settlement schemes across the states of the federation, the originally veiled approach by the government had sent apparently wrong signals and strong indications that the scheme may be mistaken by original landowners across the southern part of Nigeria as the hidden target behind the massive lands for establishing Truck Transit Parks (TTP).
Recall that the establishment of TTP is one of the ongoing strategic projects of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) to resolve parking challenges of truckers and long vehicles on major Federal roads.
TTP is designed in a way it will contain massive number of trucks with associated transport services delivery in the complex.
However, since the trending of RUGA Settlement with its resultant massive rejection by essentially southern states, communities who had earlier released lands for the TTP are beginning to have a rethink.
For example, in Arungwa near Osisoma in Aba axis of Abia State and even communities around Obolo-afor in Enugu States are currently nursing fears of possible conversion of their land which they gave out because of the TTP scheme.
Besides, few days ago after the brutal killing of an Edo woman in her farm by suspected Herders, youths who carried the corpse to Okada Junction along Benin-Ore Road warned that they not allow the development of one the TTP along the road so as avoid converting the area to RUGA Settlement somewhere along the line.
Their fears took inspiration from the fact that majority of these long vehicles and trucks are driven by Fulanis who may in the future create rooms for the squeezing in of RUGA instead of TTP.
Earlier in the week, Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, warned the Federal Government at the inauguration of the United Nations Solutions 17 SDG programme in Lagos that it’s handling of Ruga herdsmen settlements could spark an explosion in the country.
According to him, Ruga project of the Federal Government was not the best approach to resolving the herders-farmers’ clashes.
“Ruga is going to be an explosion if not handled with care. But why do we not take our policies from good models?
“This is not the way people and countries deal with issues of cattle. I travel everywhere. It has to be handled in a way that is logical, comprehensible to the environment. When a cow walks up to the window of my house in Abeokuta, a house which is located in a residential area, then there’s a problem.
“When a cow goes to Ijebu Ode and eats up their seedlings and so on and you expect people to be quiet? People have been killed in hundreds just because of the failure of leadership at a critical time.
“And the cattle herders have been given a sense of impunity. They kill without any compunction, they drive away the farmers who have been contributing to the food solutions in the country, the cattle eat their crops and then you come up with Ruga.
Continuing, Soyinka averred that “I think that there is going to be trouble in this country if this Ruga thing is not handled imaginatively and with humanity as priority. Any country where cattle take priority over human life is definitely at an elementary stage.”
Already, the entire South East governors, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Afenifere, the Middle Belt Forum and other groups and even the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom had come out to dissociate their areas from the scheme.