RUGA and Restructuring are not Nigeria’s problems – Okereke

July 15th, 2019

•Says Herders with AK-47 not Fulanis, but Boko Haram

The Director-General, National Taskforce to Combat Illegal Importation of Goods, Small Arms, Ammunitions and Light Weapons (NARFORCE), Chief Osita Okereke in this recent interview with journalists in Abuja said he doesn’t see Ruga and Restructuring as problems in Nigeria, even as he insisted that Herders with AK-47 are Boko Haram, not the Fulanis. Excerpts:

The Federal Government (FG) initiated and later suspended the Ruga Project and it is still raising dust, what is your view on it?

Ruga is not a national issue, but a private business which shouldn’t cause trouble in Nigeria. Fulani herders are very kind people who have been in the business when some of us were not born. As a boy, in my village, my dad used to give them a place to stay. When going, they would give the village a gift and wander on. The Fulani of that time would pass through many villages, buy food, eat and go their way, hurting nobody.

If herders need land for their business, they have a place in Enugu, Umuahia, Lopkanta, Awka, Onitsha, Owerri, Aba, Okigwe, among others in the south east and Nigeria in general where they have been doing their business as usual. People shouldn’t cause problems out of nothing.

The herders who go about with AK-47 are not Fulani herdsmen, but Boko Haram terrorists. A Fulani man can’t acquire AK-47, because he hardly goes to town and wouldn’t know where to get them. You want to give Ruga settlements to wanderers with AK -47; what is the meaning of Ruga? Mr President said he knew nothing about it and he is not in its support. Befor he said that, I have said it categorically that Mr President knew nothing about it. Ruga is being planned in Kaduna and by some people in Aso Rock without Mr President’s knowledge.

Nigerians should know how their government functions. The president is denied access to a full newspaper or television (TV). They cut pages for him. If it is time for him to watch TV, unless he requests for Nigeria Television Authority (NTA). The news he hears and reads is the one that favours him, not the opposite and that was why Obasanjo sacked Doyin Okukpe. One day Obasanjo saw where he was attacked in a newspaper he had read and he didn’t see it, because the particular page was cut off. So he sacked Doyin Okukpe for that.

Similarly, they keep Mr President in dark. I think he knew about Ruga when he saw protest and enquired about it and after which he suspended and stopped it. If you want to rear cows, you acquire a land for them, otherwise they wander as usual, as they have no home.

Initially, it was Ranching, but now Ruga. Which one is preferable to you?

Both are private business and no one has asked me how I do my own business. So anyone that needs either should go for it privately. They have been doing this business for decades and for it to cause trouble now means that there is ulterior motive behind it and I shall not allow that to happen. Buhari has said he knew nothing about it and Nigerians should accept it so.

Though it has been suspended, but Northern Coalition (NC) has given the President 30 days ultimatum to revise its latest decision and also ordered southerners to quit north within the period, for opposing it. What is your take on it?

It is an empty threat. There is nothing like NC. Mr President’s mandate is from Nigerians, not from the NC. He is president of Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN), comprising 36 stares and Abuja, not that of the NC. They don’t have the moral justification to do that; who are they to give the president ultimatum and don’t they know his power? Anybody who thinks he can torment and control him isn’t serious and should stop it.

Don’t you think that the lives of the southerners are in danger?

Nobody’s life is in danger. Everybody has his life to protect. NC lives are not covered with stone or iron, likewise that of southerners. We are all Nigerians and should believe in Nigeria and work toward protecting Nigeria.

The issue of Ruga has heightened the agitation for restructuring. In your opinion, which one will enhance national development?
You can’t put 20 fingers in your mouth at the same time. Restructuring is not the bone of contention now. The president should be allowed to form his government first, then we know where to go. My own form of restructuring is creation of equal state and local government from each zone for every community to have access to the government. The Peoples Development Party (PDP) that is putting pressure on restructuring was in office for about 16 years, why didn’t they restructure the country? Buhari’s stay in office is about five years and it shouldn’t be compared with 16 years. Let him be allowed to settle down, plan for the country, instead of painting him black. He is a straight-forward person, but his problem is sabotage within and outside.

He is accused of using Ruga to islamise and fulanise Nigeria, do you think so?

He categorically said he knew nothing about it and it is true. He saw protest in television, enquired, knew about it and suspended and stopped it. It isn’t his intention to islamise Nigeria, but that of some people. If it is so, he wouldn’t have gone to each geopolitical zone to campaign. Each geopolitical zone contributed to his reelection. I am from Imo state and we voted for him massively, because we love him. I personally went from one ward to another to deliver votes for him.

We voted you into office and you came back to kill us. If so, who will you govern? Let us remove sentiment and have spirit of one Nigeria; join hands to fight against what we think that is going wrong. People may reject government’s proposals and the same government would cancel it. Let me tell you, Buhari will do a lot of achievements now, because the All Progressives Congress (APC) is in control, both at Senate and House of Representatives. I believe that the 8th Assembly disappointed Nigerians, by taking the leadership of the House and the Senate. The PDP was in power for 16 years and the opposition wasn’t the deputy senate president.

Even without ministers now?

He wants to take his time to avoid bringing in quacks. Most of his past ministers disappointed him and Nigerians.

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