RUGA: A DEN FOR TERRORIST GROUPS?

 

When I first heard of RUGA, my mind went straight to Ruga-Ruga. Ruga-Ruga were irregular troops in Eastern Africa which dates back to 1820, often deployed by western colonial forces. They often served as mercenaries or local auxiliaries alongside the regular Askari, professional soldiers who were often hired in other regions of Africa. While the latter were trained by officers of the European colonial powers in Africa, the Ruga-Ruga were mostly hired from tribal warriors during times of conflict. Their reliability in combat varied greatly, however, as Ruga-Ruga often fought for personal reasons such as tribal rivalries and desire for fame and plunder. They were thus equally likely to fight courageously as to flee and desert. Well, I discovered later that RUGA in the Nigerian context has no connection with Ruga-Ruga.

 

 

 

What actually is the meaning of RUGA in the APC-led administration of President Mohammadu Buhari? RUGA means Rural Grazing Areas. C. Okewu in his article, titled “Ruga as an expression of the Next Level”, tries to illustrate the meaning of Ruga. He says “[…] every northerner who is familiar with Fulani understood what he (el-Rufai) meant by Ruga. Moreover, there is a common saying in hausa, to the effect that there can never be scarcity of cow-milk in the settlement of the Fulani, hence ba a rasa nono a ruga. This is just to make the point that Ruga means the habitation or settlement of the Fulani.” From this illustration, it implies that this acronym, RUGA has two faces: the face of the led-APC administration of President Muhammadu Buhari who is a Fulani man and the face of the Fulani tribe. The former face as already mentioned is Rural Grazing Areas. The latter face has a link with the Fulani Herdsmen, a name which is ringing bell in the minds of many Nigerians. From among the Fulani Herdsmen, we have a group known as the Fulani Militant group.

 

 

 

Today, the Herdsmen Militant group popularly known as ‘Fulani Herdsmen’ in Nigeria, though not officially pronounced by the Buhari led-APC administration, has been termed by many as a terrorist group. A group which sets out for ethnic cleansing. In the Independent UK Newspaper of November 18, 2015, the Herdsmen Militant group was described as the fourth deadliest terrorist group in the world aside Boko Haram, Isis and al-Shabab. It states:

 

“The fourth deadliest known terrorist group has been named as the Fulani militant group operating in Nigeria and parts of the Central African Republic.” According to President Buhari, “These gunmen were trained and armed by Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. When he was killed, the gunmen escaped with their arms. We encountered some of them fighting with Boko Haram." “Herdsmen that we used to know carried only sticks and maybe a cutlass to clear the way, but these ones now carry sophisticated weapons.” These statements by President Buhari point to the fact that the herdsmen who are attacking villages and killing and kidnapping people are not Nigerians. We are in deep trouble to distinguish between the Fulani Herdsmen who are Nigerians and the foreign Herdsmen as both are “CATTLE REARERS”.

 

 

 

While the Boko Haram occupies the Sambisa forest and operates from there to some parts in Nigeria, RUGA will surely be a settlement area for the Fulani Herdsmen in almost all parts of Nigeria. Surely, this settlement cannot exclude the Fulani Militant group. This is a good plot for the establishment of a combatant base in each RUGA. Some of those who made comments on RUGA have said nothing good about it. Someone said, it is a cheap plan that allows terrorist a medium to propagate their terrorist ideas. Jonathan Asake sees the Ruga settlement initiative as a scheme in the grand plot to "Fulanise" and ultimately "Islamize" the country. In a Channels Television during Friday's edition of Sunrise Daily,  the former member of the House of Assembly between 2011 and 2015 opined that the term "Ruga" is a Fulani word and wondered why anyone would be eluded into thinking that the settlement would not be exclusive to the Fulani when implemented rather than the much hyped job creating, economic emancipation vehicle which the Buhari government is trying to pitch to Nigerians.The case of the "1987 Kaduna State Government approved Ruga settlements" which was to be established in the old Kachia L.G.A. (Zangon Kataf, Chikun, Kajuru and Kachia L.G.A) should be studied by those states where the Federal Government intends to establish Ruga. This grazing reserve in the old Kachia L.G.A.  has been changed to Laduga.

 

 

 

If Ruga would be for the normal Fulani cattle herdsmen we used to know who are Nigerians, nobody would be worried but with the new trend of the Herdsmen Militant group, the fourth deadliest terrorist group in the world, say NO to RUGA. There is a saying in Igbo Language: a ha agwa ochi nti na agha e bidona (meaning nobody tells a stubborn person that war has started). Any wise person would know that agwo no n’akirika (there is a snake in the rafter). Say NO to would be snake in the rafter. Say NO now to the intending DEN FOR THE TERRORIST GROUPS (Boko Haram and Herdsmen Militant group) in and around your locality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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