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RUGA: Middle Belt Forum Blows Hot Over Proposed Fulani Settlement

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The Middle Belt Forum, MBF, said it has unequivocally rejected in totality the proposed establishment of Ruga settlements in the region by the federal government.

The forum noted that the policy seeks to exclusively benefit a particular ethnic group against the rest of Nigerians.

Dr lsuwa Dogo, National Publicity Secretary of MBF said in a statement, “The attention of the Middle Belt Forum (MBF) has been drawn to the planned establishment of Ruga settlements for Fulani herdsmen all over the 36 states of the federation, including the FCT by the President Muhamamdu Buhari-led Federal Government.

“The plan to establish these so-called Ruga settlements was first unveiled by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammadu Umar. In a media interview in Abuja, Umar was quoted to have disclosed that the Ruga Settlement idea was the initiative of the National Economic Council (NEC) that was presented under the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP).”

The forum explained that according to the Permanent Secretary, work is ongoing in 12 pilot states, with six Ruga settlements expected to be established in each of the pilot states.

“The final plan is to ensure that same is replicated in all the 36 states of the Federation, including the FCT. Going by the Permanent Secretary’s disclosure, no less than 222 of such settlements shall be built all over the country when fully completed,” the statement explained.

Accordingly to the forum, “An umbrella body of all socio-cultural groups in Middle Belt Region hereby unequivocally rejects in totality the proposed establishment of Ruga settlements in the Middle Belt, as it is a policy that seeks to exclusively benefit a particular ethnic group against the rest of Nigerians.

“In this line, we hereby declare our total support and solidarity for Governors Samuel Ortom of Benue and Arc. Darius Dickson Ishaku of Taraba state who have developed the rare courage of raising their voices against unfair, unjust and oppressive policies of the Federal Government.

“On the other hand, we wish to denounce in totality the fraudulent and mischievous group that calls itself the Concerned Middle Belt Citizens Forum (CMBCF).

“This group, if it ever exists, has made itself readily available to be procured by detractors of the Middle Belt Region to insult our leaders and oppose any struggle aimed at emancipating the people of the Middle Belt,” the statement explained.

The statement observed that the local Fulani are living peacefully in their Ruga settlements scattered across the various communities in the Middle Belt and other parts of the country.

MBF added, “They have been going about their normal lives and returning to their settlements at the end of the day. As a matter of fact, these local Fulani are never homeless for government to tinker with the idea of building exclusive settlements for them.

“From available reports, the Federal Government has not just proposed but has gone ahead to commence the construction of Ruga settlements, mostly in Middle Belt states of Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Taraba, among others. Specifically in Taraba and Benue, the Federal Government has gone ahead to commence construction of these Ruga settlements against the wish of these state governments, amidst widespread protests by the people and in spite of existing laws that prohibit open grazing and provides for ranching.

“Going by the insistence of the Federal Government to forcefully establish these Ruga settlements, it suggests to us that the government is on a mission to settle criminal terrorist herdsmen that are behind the incessant invasions of our communities and displacing our people from their ancestral lands, thereby precipitating grave humanitarian crisis situation in the affected areas.”

Middle Belt Forum lamented, “Despite these incessant invasions of our communities, often times on a genocidal scale by marauding Fulani herdsmen, the Federal Government has never deemed it fit to apprehend, prosecute or convict any of the aggressors. Ironically, it is always the victims who try to defend their communities that are always hounded into detention by government agents.

“Sadly, all we ever heard from President Buhari is that these invaders are from neighbouring countries. The Miyetti Allah group has said the same. Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai of Kaduna state has not only corroborated this fact that the invaders are from foreign countries, but also has confirmed paying compensation to them.

“Contrary to claims by the Federal Government that the Ruga settlement is aimed at addressing the incessant clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers, our Forum insists that the plan is nothing but a ploy to import criminal Fulani from within and neighbouring countries to settle them in our communities in order to change demography for political, social and economic advantage in pursuit of the much-talk about ‘Fulanisation’ agenda of the present administration.

“If at all there is need for government to use tax payers’ money to build settlements for any particular group, it is for those homeless, starving and helpless citizens of our country who, for no fault of theirs, have been internally displaced from their ancestral lands by Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east, armed banditry in the North-west and Fulani herdsmen’s invasions in the Middle Belt and the South.

“The deplorable conditions of IDPs all over the country are pathetic and quite unfortunate. Any responsible and responsive government would rather focus its energies on ameliorating the suffering of these categories of people and not engage in the vain pursuit of ethnic chauvinistic agenda aimed at enthroning the supremacy of one group over others as an official state policy.”

BIG STORY

BREAKING: Fire Ravages Katangowa, Lagos Market [PHOTOS]

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An early morning fire has engulfed Katangowa Market in Agbado/Oke-Odo Local Council Development Area, along the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway on Monday.

The fire outbreak which started around 3.15am destroyed the entire stretch of fairly used clothes’ shops opposite the Central Mosque in the market.

As of the time of filing this report, men of the state fire service and officials of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency were on the ground to put off the fire.

Also on the ground are policemen from the Okeodo Divisional Headquarters to prevent the looting of unaffected shops.

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Stay Away From Duty Posts, NASU, SSANU Direct Varsity Workers As Strike Begins

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Academic activities will be paralyzed in the universities across the Federation from today as the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Educational Institutions and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), have issued a directive to all their members to stay away from their duty posts from Monday.

The unions, under the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of NASU and SSANU, also warned their branches that the strike is “total and comprehensive” and that “no form of concession or internal arrangement should be made with management,” during the strike.

The directive was dated 16th August 2019 and signed by the General Secretary of NASU, Comr Peters Adeyemi and the National President of SSANU, Comr. Samson Ugwoke.

The directive which was addressed to all branch chairmen, Joint Action Committee of NASU and SSANU, also warned that any defaulting branch would be sanctioned.

They were directed to fully mobilize their members and ensure full compliance, as the leadership would not hesitate to sanction any defaulting branch.

In the first phase, the directive said the strike will last for five days, as a result of government failure to attend to their demands after the expiration of the 14-day ultimate earlier issued to the government. The Ultimatum ended on Sunday.

The Ultimatum read: “Following the expiration of the 14 day ultimatum given to the Government and its failure to show firm commitment towards resolving the following issues: Payment of Earned Allowances; University Staff Schools matter; Renegotiation of 2009 Agreements; you are hereby directed to embark on a five (5) day strike effective from Monday, 19th to Friday, 23rd August 2019.

“Be informed that the strike is total and comprehensive for the five days. No form of concession or internal arrangement should be made with management while all members must be directed to stay away from their duty posts.

“Kindly recall the decision of the National Executive Councils of the two unions to the effect that Branches that default in compliance should be sanctioned.

“The National leadership shall not hesitate in this regard. You are hereby directed to fully mobilize your members and ensure full compliance.”

(Nigerian Tribune)

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Presidency Queries FIRS Boss Babatunde Fowler Over N12.6Trillion Tax Collection

Peter Okunoren

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The Presidency appears displeased with the taxes the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has collected in the last three years.

This is despite the fact that the FIRS generated the largest revenue in the nation’s tax history when it collected N5.3 trillion in taxes in 2018 and is targeting N8 trillion in 2019.

The Presidency conveyed its displeasure at the FIRS’ collection efforts in a query issued to the Executive Chairman of the FIRS Mr. Tunde Fowler by the Chief of Staff to the President, Alhaji Abba Kyari.

The query circulating in the social media titled: “Re: Budgeted FIRS Collections and Actual Collections”, reads: “Your attached letter (FIRS/EC/ECW/0249/19/027 dated 26 July 2019) on the above subject matter refers.

“We observed significant variances between the budgeted collections and actual collections for the period 2015 to 2018.

“Accordingly, you are kindly invited to submit a comprehensive variance analysis explaining the reasons for the variances between budgeted and actual collections for each main tax item for each of the years 2015 to 2018.

The query marked “Restricted” added that “we observed that the actual collections for the period 2015 to 2017 were significantly worse than what were collected between 2012 and 2014. Accordingly, you are kindly invited to explain the reason for the poor collections.”

Kyari directed Fowler “to respond by 19 August 2019.”

The development has raised questions over the propriety of the query, given that there is no Minister for Finance and the query did not come from the Permanent Secretary of the ministry.

In January 2019, Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Mr. Tunde Fowler, announced in Lagos that the Service broke its collection records by generating N5.3 trillion from taxes collected and is targeting N8 trillion for 2019.

According to Fowler, the N5.320 trillion collection is considered to be the highest revenue ever generated by FIRS in history.

The highest in FIRS was N5.07 trillion generated in 2012 under Ms. Ifueko Omoigui.

Fowler said “FIRS’ generation of N5.3 trillion is significant as it was at a period when oil prices averaged $70 per barrel. Oil price was at an average of $100 to $120 per barrel between 2010 and 2013.”

In realizing this milestone, the FIRS boss noted that the non-oil component of the N5.320 trillion is N2.467 trillion that was (53.62 percent), while the oil element of the collection was N2.852 trillion (46.38 percent). From audit alone, the FIRS collected N212,792 billion from 2,278 cases with a huge reduction in audit circle.

In spite of this achievement, Tunde Fowler lamented that “while we have been steadily increasing revenue collection over the years, our cost of collection has actually been going down. In 2016, we collected N3,307 trillion, in 2017 we collected N4,027 trillion and in 2018 we collected N5,320 trillion.

“Meanwhile, the cost of collection as a percentage of actual taxes collected has been reducing; in 2016 it was 2.6%, in 2017 it was 2.49% while in 2018 it was 2.14%.” The FIRS is entitled to 4% cost of collection.

He added: “The Service has been making tremendous efforts in also increasing the amount of non-oil revenue it collects. The non-oil collection has contributed 64.99% in 2016, in 2017 it contributed 62.25% and in 2018 it contributed 53.62%.

“This represents the government’s focus on increasing non-oil sources of revenue and the diversification of the Nigerian economy.”

(The Nation)

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