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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: Sigh Of Relief As Electricity Workers Suspend Nationwide Strike

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The National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) has suspended its strike embarked upon on Wednesday to draw the federal government’s attention to the plight of its members.

Following a meeting with officials of the federal government, the union accepted to discontinue the one-day-old strike.

According to the National President of NUEE, Comrade Joe Ajaero, who confirmed the outcome of the meeting to THISDAY, the workers’ grievances were conclusively addressed.

He said that all the concerns of the union and its members were addressed at the talks which lasted till the wee hours of today.

“We have concluded deliberations and all issues were addressed, but we are awaiting implementation. Meanwhile, our strike action is suspended,” Ajaero said.

Following the expiration of the 21 days ultimatum issued by NUEE to the Minister of Power, Saleh Mamman, to implement their demands, and the failure of the minister to dialogue with the union before the ultimatum which lapsed midnight Tuesday, a nationwide blackout was imminent as electricity workers began indefinite strike Wednesday morning.

The strike led to the shutting down of most of the offices of Distribution Companies (Discos) across the country.

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Trouble Brews In FIRS As Workers Rejects Fowler’s Handover To Aina, Demand Handover To Senior Director

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Twenty-four hours after the change of guard at the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), members of staff of the Service have given the authorities till Friday for the most senior director to take over as acting chairman.

Mr. Babatunde Fowler handed over to Abiodun Aina, Coordinating Director, Domestic Taxes Group after President Muhammadu Buhari named Muhammad M. Nami to replace him as chairman and sent his name to the Senate for confirmation.

According to a communique sent to the Acting Executive Chairman, the workers, under the aegis of the Joint Union Council of FIRS, threatened that they cannot guarantee industrial harmony after Friday if Aina continues to act as chairman.

The FIRS claimed that Aina, “does not have the basic qualification/requirement (HND or BSc) to be employed into the Service.”

Besides, the union said Aina’s appointment to the position of Coordinating Director “was against the provision of Section 2.19 of FIRS Human Resource Policies and Processes which states as follows: Appointment to the post of Coordinating Director shall be made by the Board on the recommendation of the Executive Chairman.”

Aina’s appointment they claim should “be open to all confirmed Directors of the Service and it shall be competitive based on experience, competence, and seniority, as he was never a director in the Service rather a Senior Special Assistant to the erstwhile Chairman of FIRS.”

They also claimed that “his name is not on the seniority list of confirmed FIRS staff and FIRS directors on the staff nominal roll rather on the list of Contract Staff of FIRS.”

At the end of the emergency meeting, union members resolved that “in accordance with the Presidential Directive, the seniority list should be followed and the appropriate person be directed to act, pending assumption of duty of the New FIRS executive chairman.

“That if by close of work on Friday, 13th December 2019, no action is taken to this effect, Union will no longer guaranty further industrial harmony in the system.”

The communique was signed by Okere Samson (JUC Chairman); Idris Hassan Abdulrahaman (JUC Vice-Chairman); Lekwot Friday Thomas (JUC Secretary); Jimoh Idowu; Kenechukwu Oliver; Shehu M.D; Esther Acheme; Jane Akinbami; Abba Dalhatu; Akpabio N.M; Ajoge J.Y; Akorga Lucy; Ohiwere Ahmed A; Abubakar Abeni; Hussaini Moses; Nwoha Godwin and Habiba Adekunle.

The union leaders sent copies of the communique to Finance Minister Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nígeria President and his Nigeria Civil Service Union counterpart.

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FG Has Commercialized Christian Marriage —- PFN Cries Out Over New Law That Mandates Couples To Pay N51,000 Before Getting Married In Church

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) has expressed fury over the new law by the Rauf Aregbesola led Ministry of Interior that mandates the payment of N30,000 by Churches to conduct statutory marriages and N21,000 for each marriages certificate.

PFN has alleged that churches are being targeted by the Federal Government following the new marriage certificate law introduced by the Ministry of Interior.

PFN’s National President of the fellowship, Rev.(Dr.) Felix Omobude who lashed out at the Ministry of Interior over the imposition of a compulsory N30,000 charge license for Christian worship centers for the conduct of statutory marriages in churches and N21,000 for each marriage certificate alleged that it is an attempt to commercialize Christian marriages in the country.

Omobude called on the Federal Government to shelve the unpopular policy which he said is exploitative and targeted against Christian marriages in the country. He added that they will use every legal means to stop the new marriage certificate law.

He said;

“This is very unfair and to the best of our understanding, the new law is targeted against the Church because the Traditional and Islamic weddings are exempted from paying the new marriage certificate fees.

“PFN is at a loss as to why Church Marriages should be in the exclusive list of the nation’s constitution. The PFN, therefore calls on the Federal Government to immediately shelve the unpopular policy targeted against Christian marriages in the country.

“If the Ministry of Interior is in dire need of funds, it should look elsewhere and resist the temptation of placing an extra financial burden on the Christians and their churches.”

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