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Enugu Govt And The Needless Controversy Over Proposed Ranch


By Godfrey Agboeze 

It is germane to remind Ndi Enugu that during his electioneering campaigns, Barr. Peter Ndubuisi Mbah didn't mince words or play to the gallery over his massive plans for the agricultural sector. He promised to revolutionise and modernise agricultural practice so that it can create employment and development and generate revenue for the government. His vision in this direction is not different from what is obtainable in other developed climes, where agriculture is even the major source of revenue for government and employment creation for the people. 

   In pursuit, realization, fulfillment and practicalising of his campaign promise of modernizing and improving agricultural practice in the state, Mbah's administration in collaboration with the people of Nkanu East LGA, have mapped out 200 hectares of land for cassava plantation and processing in Amagunze. 150 hectares of land have also been set aside in Umulokpa Uzo-Uwani LGA for cassava plantation and processing  as well.  Mbah’s administration in collaboration with International Fund for Agricultural Development Value Chain Development Programme ( IFAD-VCDP) have inaugurated two rice mills, solar powered boreholes and cassava processing centres in each of the five council areas of Aninri, Enugu East, Nkanu East, Isi Uzo and Udenu. 

  From Nkanu East to Aninri and other council areas that are predominantly agrarian communities with vast arable lands, Mbah's administration has mapped out hectares of lands for commercial and mechanised agricultural practices that will not only contribute immensely to the state GDP,  but will provide massive employment, development and make the state the true food basket of the nation in the face of dwindling oil revenue and shortage of food. 

   With the above-mentioned clear road map and  agricultural strides of Governor Mbah's government in the state so far, one wonders where Mbah's government got it wrong with the proposed ranch pilot scheme in Uzo-Uwani LGA which has made some social media alarmists, montebanks and propagandists to be wagging tongues, wailing and ranting with  falsehood,  misinformation, politicization and orchestrated lies about the scheme that is yet to take off. Some oppositions and their sympathisers have gone to the extent of politicizing it by sponsoring and prodding some innocent women to stage protest against it. 

  This is despite Enugu State Government's Commissioner for Information and Communication, Aka Eze Aka's lucid and factual explanations of government's good intention and plan to establish a ranch in Uzo-Uwani LGA, that is different from the suspended and rejected RUGA of former President Muhammadu Buhari's administration. 

  Apart from Aka Eze Aka's factual press statement on the proposed ranch, it doesn't  take any altruistic, patriotic and educated people or persons much to know or differentiate between the suspended RUGA and the proposed Ranch. 

    RUGA or RUGGA) is a Fulani word for human settlement and can also be interpreted as acronym of rural grazing area. Ranch on the hand is a large farm where cattle and other animals are bred. Take note that cattle and other animals, which may include sheep, horse, goat, and others, are bred. This is common in developed climes such as Australia, North America, and others. In Australia, for example, ranching created more than 300,000 jobs in 2023 and contributed more than 20 per cent of the country's GDP. 

    Meanwhile, it would be recalled that when President Muhammadu Buhari's administration introduced RUGA scheme as a solution to farmers-herders crisis with planned in-built colonies on compulsory acquired state lands across the country so that the cattle could be reared closer to the end users in each state, it was opposed by many Nigerians and many state   governments, canvassed and insisted on ranching which is line with the international best practice and to be established and managed by state governments. 

   The RUGA scheme was later suspended by President Buhari's administration, majorly because it was not consistent with National Executive Council and FG approved National Livestock Transformation Plan which programmes of rehabilitation of displaced IDPs, resulting from crisis and also development of ranches in any willing state of the federation.

   The beauty of the National Livestock Transformation Plan is that what NEC and FG approved is a voluntary programme in all 36 states. It says that any state governor that is interested is required to bring up a development plan that is keyed towards implementation in line with the National Livestock Transformation Plan that is unique to the state based on challenges that the governor has in respect of the farmers-herders crisis. 

   With the above unambiguous explanations as it concerns National Livestock Transformation Plan, which was the reason RUGA scheme was suspended, it is obvious that state governments are free to embark on building of ranches and as well as hav final authority to manage it. 

    The question is, where did Mbah's government got it wrong with the planned establishment of pioneer ranch in Uzo Uwani LGA, if not mischief making and hypocrisy by some unscrupulous elements who like making mountain of out of molehill and saw it as a window of opportunity to mislead and pitch the people of the state, especially the people of Uzo-Uwani LGA, that will be the greatest beneficiaries of the scheme against his government.

   It is a fact that across the state,  Uzo-Uwani LGA has the highest number of agrarian communities and arable lands with highest rate of farmers-herders crisis in the state, hence it is the most fitted place for the pioneer scheme for the ranch. The fears and anxiety of those who have been opposed and critical of the Enugu State Government's planned ranch in Uzo-Uwani LGA is not out of place, but for the fact that it will be established and managed by the state government is enough to assuage the fear and reduce the tension. Enugu State Government is not insensitive and nonchalant to the plight of her people to the extent of  implementing the suspended RUGA scheme to the advantage of marauding Fulani herders against her people. 

  Meanwhile, nothing says that the proposed ranch is for Fulani herders. It is not possible because Enugu people, especially the people of Uzo Uwani LGA and its environs, will use this ranching opportunity to engage in the rearing of cattle and other animals in the ranch. Fulani herders have no monopoly of knowledge of cattle rearing or animal husbandry. Before the Fulani herders and nomads, Enugu people had been practising animal husbandry and rearing. Ranching will surely reduce or eliminate permanently the farmers-herders' clash that claimed many lives and farm produce.    

   The establishment of the ranch is in line with the strict implementation of Enugu State anti-grazing bill entitled "Prohibition of Open Grazing And Cattle Ranching Law which was passed by Enugu State House of Assembly in September 2, 2021 and signed into law by the then Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi on September 15, 2021. 

    With the ranches in place in the state, there will be no room for open grazing, which has always been the major source of the farmers-herders crisis in the state. Some have emotionally and blindly argued that the government has no business building ranches for rearing of cattle and other animals in the state. If that is the case, it means that the government has no business subsidizing agricultural practice or supporting farmers or even paying agriculture counterparts funds.  

   Doing so will simply mean that agricultural practice and sector would suffer setbacks and challenges that will result in food shortage and economic crisis. This is not the best for a state like Enugu State that has enormous agricultural potentials, which, if properly harnessed as being done by Mbah's administration, is capable of catapulting the state to national and global economic reckoning.

1 comment

  1. This is the most useless post I have ever seen on the internet and it's coming from someone that is hungry looking for stomach infrastructure.