RUGA and Restructuring are not Nigeria’s problems –Okereke

October 9th, 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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