By Adedayo Akinwale
Abuja — The Northern Governors’ Forum has called for calm following the suspension of the “Ruga” cattle settlement project in the country.
This is coming as the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, thursday described as irresponsible the 30-day ultimatum, a Coalition of Northern group gave the federal government to rescind its decision to suspend the RUGA policy and urged all Igbo to defend themselves against the threat.
President Muhammadu Buhari had to suspend the implementation of the Ruga project, which was meant to be created across the 36 states of the federation as a result of the public outcry that greeted the initiative.
However, Coalition of Northern Group (CNG) had issued President Buhari a 30-day ultimatum to commence the implementation of the project across the country.
But the Chairman of Northern Governors Forum, Mr. Simon Lalong of Plateau State, in a statement issued in Abuja yesterday, called for total restraint from the coalition.
The governor also urged the coalition to allow the government to handle the matter, assuring them that the government will come out with a solution that would better serve the benefit of all.
“With the ensuing development following the announcement of the suspension of the Ruga resettlement initiative by the federal government yesterday, it has become pertinent for me as Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum to make clarifications on the true position in order to calm nerves.
“We have acknowledged the varied responses that have been coming in throughout the hours after the announcement of the suspension which we see as part of the beauty of democracy which allows citizens to participate in shaping and moderating the functions of government with regards to matter of public interest.
“Meanwhile we urge all stakeholders and all shades of interested parties, especially from the north, to remain calm and air their views democratically and decently while allowing the government chance to handle the matter.
“In the meantime, we are happy to announce that we are reaching out in engagement with major stakeholders in the matter particularly in the north, after receiving the position of the leadership of the Coalition of Northern Groups with the hope of getting the public to fully understand the whole concept and the wisdom behind the decision by the government.
“We acknowledge here the coalition’s concerns and in particular, its decency in urging the northern people to remain civil and resist the temptation to be drawn into anything untoward,” Lalong explained.
However, in a statement issued yesterday, Nwodo has described as irresponsible the 30-day ultimatum.
Nwodo called on the Igbo to be ready to defend themselves against any threat from any quarter.
Nwodo recalled that one Abdul Azeez Suleman, speaking for a coalition of northern groups, threatened the expulsion of southerners resident in the north at the expiration of his ultimatum.
“This irresponsible, unlawful and provocative outburst reminds me of the northern youths’ notice to quit the North to southerners two years ago.”
While describing the RUGA policy as an Islamisation and a Fulanisation policy, Nwodo said that Ohanaeze would resist it.
He added, “The threat to evict law-abiding Nigerians from their places of abode in northern Nigeria is treasonable and obviously like the gun-trotting herdsmen will go unnoticed by our federally-controlled law enforcement agencies.
“Let Abdul, the federal government and others like them, take notice that Ohanaeze has no objections to all Igbo in the North returning home so long as all northerners in the South-east would leave the South-east and we dismantle the federal structure imposed on us by the military and return to autonomous federating units.
“The nepotism exhibited by this federal government, her duplicity of standards in law enforcement, her undisguised Fulanisation policy is repugnant to the rule of law and good governance. We will no longer tolerate any further threats from these northern war mongers.
“After all, who should be the aggrieved under the circumstance? The millipede that has been marched is whimpering, but the person that marched it is complaining that his foot has been soiled.
“The southern Nigerian people that are bearing the yoke of oppression from cattle herders are trying their best to co-exist with their aggressors, yet it is the aggressors that are threatening further mayhem. This cannot be.
“I call on all Igbo to be ready to defend themselves. Enough of these threats!”