BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Prior to colonial times, the practice of reserving land for the exclusive use of animals prevailed in Nigeria. Pastoralists were given grazing pastures near towns and villages for use during the crop season, which was socially sanctioned (Waters-Bayer and Taylor-Powell, 1986). Due to the lack of a legal instrument to prevent encroachment by crop growers, such designated spaces eventually vanished as the population and cropping intensity increased.
This tendency was particularly noticeable in Nigeria’s subhumid zone, where pastoralists from the semiarid zone to the north used to migrate to enjoy dry-season pastures.
The pastoralists now live among cultivators who were once subsistence farmers who practiced extensive swidden (slash and burn) cultivation. They only kept a few animals, especially little trypanotolerant goat and sheep varieties. Although sleeping sickness is commonly blamed for the zone’s limited population, it is now widely acknowledged that the high labor inputs required for cultivation also discouraged settlement. A vast variety of crops and crop mixes characterize farming systems, which frequently combine grains, grain legumes, and tubers. Regional marketing and long-distance trade were underdeveloped in comparison to the humid and semiarid zones.
Unfortunately, as a result of this circumstance, all of the zone’s most fertile areas of land have been occupied.
Nigeria’s cattle-grazing disaster has escalated into a national security threat, igniting ethnic strife across the country. According to Amnesty International, confrontations between herders and farmers over access to water and pasture, as well as the destruction of land and property — mainly belonging to farmers in the country’s middle belt region — resulted in over 2,000 deaths in 2018.
For years, herders from the Fulani ethnic group in the north have carried their livestock to other regions of the country to graze. Cattle breeding has become challenging due to climate change, high population increase, and desertification in the north.
For several years, terrible violence has been an issue. Fulani militants were ranked fourth most lethal terror organization in the world by the Global Terrorism Index in 2014.
The Nigerian National Economic Council took action in 2018. It was determined that the best answer to the situation would be the creation of designated cattle ranches. To address food security and encourage industrial growth, the ministry of agriculture devised a National Livestock Transformation Plan. Ranching was also promoted by the NLTP committee, which was chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Ruga was born out of a long-standing feud with farmers. Farmers, on the other hand, feel deceived by the scheme because they own the fields, while herders are relieved from their difficulties. Governors Samuel Ortom of Benue and Arc. Darius Dickson Ishaku of Taraba were the first to reject the plan to establish Ruga settlements in their states, as expected.
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
However, the scheme is largely viewed as a ruse to allow herders to claim subsidised land in the same places where they have wreaked havoc. Odia Ofeimun, a poet and polemicist, remarked, “The current government aims to destroy variety in favor of an ethnic program.”
Open grazing has been phased out in Benue, according to Terver Akase, the state government’s press secretary: “Anyone who wants to rear livestock in Benue has to go through the right process.”
A license from the state ministry of agriculture is required for this process. According to Nigeria’s 1978 Land Use Act, the federal government must also obtain the state’s consent before allocating land, which they did not do. The government’s separation of powers is jeopardized as a result of this.
Without taking into account the region’s cultural heritage, policies will be unable to fix this challenge. For thousands of years, nomadic herders have moved their cattle along routes to other nations with better resources. The herdsmen have felt victimized as a result of the severing of these cultural ties. They perceive a threat to their ability to survive. Meanwhile, the sheer number of animals has farmers feeling overwhelmed.
In view of these difficulties, little or no study has been conducted on the public’s impression of the federal government’s ruga settlement program. As a result, the goal of this study is to learn how the people of Benue state feel about the Ruga colony.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The overall goal of this research is to look into how the Ruga settlement in Nigeria is seen by the general public.
With the following precise goals in mind:
Examine and gain an overview of Nigeria’s rural grazing area.
To see if Ruga may prevent violence between herders and farmers in Benue State.
To see whether there is any misunderstanding about the Ruga program in Benue.
The First Hypothesis
Hi: Ruga would put an end to the conflict between herders and farmers in Benue State.
Ruga would not be able to end the confrontations between herders and farmers in Benue State.
Hypothesis No. 2
Hi: In Benue State, there is a misunderstanding about the Ruga program.
Ho: In Benue State, there is no misunderstanding about the Ruga program.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The state’s ability to resolve or manage repeated crises, as well as create an enabling climate in which people’s respect and love for their country is increased, will undoubtedly have a favorable impact on the pace of national integration. Ruga was born out of a long-standing feud with farmers. Farmers, on the other hand, feel deceived by the scheme because they own the fields, while herders are relieved from their difficulties. Clashes between herders and farmers are not new in Benue State, but experts have done little research on this pressing subject. This survey would be valuable to government institutions, private individuals, and researchers who want to know how Nigerians feel about the Ruga Program.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The focus of this research is on the public’s impression of the Ruga settlement in Nigeria, with Benue as a case study.
The study’s scope was limited due to various constraints experienced by the researcher. The following are examples of these limitations, however they are not exhaustive.
a) RESEARCH MATERIAL AVAILABILITY: The researcher’s research material is insufficient, restricting the study’s scope.
b) TIME: The study’s time frame does not allow for broader coverage because the researcher must balance other academic pursuits and examinations.
ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY
This research paper is divided into five chapters for easy comprehension. The first chapter is devoted to the introduction, which includes the (overview, of the study), historical backdrop, statement of problem, aims of the study, research hypotheses, relevance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of words, and historical background. The theoretical framework on which the study is based is highlighted in Chapter 2, as is a survey of related literature. The third chapter discusses the study’s research strategy and methodology. The fourth chapter focuses on data gathering, analysis, and presenting of findings. The study’s summary, conclusion, and suggestions are presented in Chapter 5.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
During the research, the following terms were used:
RUGA: National integration is the recognition of a common identity among a country’s population. It means that citizens, despite belonging to different castes, faiths, regions, and languages, perceive themselves as one. This type of cooperation is critical to the development of a strong and thriving nation. National integration may also be defined as the process by which numerous needy groups within a specific territorial combine or collaborate under circumstances that do not appear to allow them to meet their system demands in any other way.
The federal character is a policy that attempts to guarantee that appointments to the public sector represent the linguistic, cultural, and ethnic diversity of the country.