On the heels of the 30-day ultimatum issued on President Muhammadu Buhari to reverse the suspension of the Ruga Settlement project, by a group of Nothern youths who also threatened self-action if the deadline is not met, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Thursday, alerted Igbos to be ready to defend themselves wherever they are.
The Igbo interest group denounced the ultimatum and threats made by the Coalition of Northern Group (CNG) saying it is provocative, counterintuitive and completely irresponsible.
CNG had on Wednesday issued the ultimation for the government to quickly get back on the Ruga project saying otherwise, it would resort to self-help.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we advise the federal authorities and the southern leaders to heed the 30-day notice failing which we would most definitely be left with no option than to consider resorting to our decisive line of action,” it said.
But Ohanaeze Ndigbo made its stance on the issue Thursday.
The President-General of the group, Chief Nnia Nwodo, said: “My attention has been drawn to a broadcast by Abdul Azeez Suleman, speaking for a coalition of northern groups in which he had the audacity to give the Federal Government an ultimatum of 30 days to rescind its decision on the suspension of its RUGA settlements policy.
“Abdul went further to threaten the expulsion of southerners resident in the North at the expiration of his ultimatum if the Federal Government does not rescind its suspension decision.
“This irresponsible, unlawful and provocative outburst reminds me of the northern youths’ notice to quit the North to southerners two years ago.”
Nwodo also vowed that Ohanaeze will resist the RUGA policy which he described as a plot towards Islamisation and a Fulanisation.
He added: “The threat to evict law-abiding Nigerians from their places of abode in northern Nigeria is treasonable and obviously like the gun-trotting herdsmen will go unnoticed by our federally-controlled law enforcement agencies.
“Let Abdul, the Federal Government and others like them, take notice that Ohanaeze has no objections to all Igbo in the North returning home so long as all northerners in the South-East would leave the South-East and we dismantle the federal structure imposed on us by the military and return to autonomous federating units.
“The nepotism exhibited by this Federal Government, her duplicity of standards in law enforcement, her undisguised Fulanisation policy is repugnant to the rule of law and good governance. We will no longer tolerate any further threats from these northern war mongers.
“After all, who should be the aggrieved under the circumstance? The millipede that has been marched is whimpering, but the person that marched it is complaining that his foot has been soiled.
“The southern Nigerian people that are bearing the yoke of oppression from cattle herders are trying their best to co-exist with their aggressors, yet it is the aggressors that are threatening further mayhem. This cannot be.
“I call on all Igbo to be ready to defend themselves. Enough of these threats!”
President Buhari suspended the Ruga Settlement on Wednesday after it met nationwide opposition as many Nigerians termed it as a smokescreen to allow Fulani tribe domination in Nigeria while others pointed out that the Fulani herders constitute serious threats wherever they inhabit.
But presidency insisted that the project is conceived to put an end to incessant clash between herders and farmers across the country.
According to Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, “Ruga Settlement” seeks to settle migrant pastoral families simply means rural settlement in which animal farmers, not just cattle herders, will be settled in an organized place with provision of necessary and adequate basic amenities such as schools, hospitals, road networks, vet clinics, markets and manufacturing entities that will process and add value to meats and animal products.”
He said "The overall benefit to the nation includes a drastic reduction in conflicts between herders and farmers, a boost in animal protection complete with a value chain that will increase the quality and hygiene of livestock in terms of beef and milk production, increased quality of feeding and access to animal care and private sector participation in commercial pasture production by way of investments.
“Other gains are job creation, access to credit facilities, security for pastoral families and curtailment of cattle rustling.