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2019, Jul 15

The Federal Government has been admonished not to endanger the already fragile peace the country is presently savouring with the introduction of any policy that will portray the promotion of the welfare, economy and preservation of any extraction of the country at the expense of others.

The advice was given by the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, in a statement issued to the media in Lagos recently. In the statement titled: Forceful Acquisition of Lands for RUGA May Not Augur Well For Nigeria, the Archbishop while commending President Muhammadu Buhari for positively responding to public outcry by suspending the Federal Government planned RUGA project, urged that the government should not only cancel the proposed project in its entirety but also avoid using another means of forcing the people into accepting the proposed rural grazing areas in all the states of the country.

According to the Archbishop any move by the government to reintroduce the project or any other similar project that gives the impression that the government is promoting the interest of a particular group of the people could further divide the country along ethnic line and possibly religious lines, thereby impacting negatively on the wellbeing of most Nigerians.

Archbishop Martins stated further that any plan of the government to repeal the  Land Use Decree and substitute it with another law that will vest ownership of the entire land in the country on the Federal Government, at this point in time; will have serious consequences for the corporate existence of the country.

The Archbishop declared: “At the moment, there is rumour making the rounds that despite the suspension of the RUGA scheme, there is a well-coordinated plan to repeal the Land Use Act in order to accommodate the scheme. Any step in that direction will leave no one in doubt that the Government is really not interested in settling the so-called herdsmen/farmers clashes. A bill to tamper with the present land use arrangement at this time cannot but heat up the polity, if indeed it is being contemplated.”

Archbishop Martins continued: “Any proposed solution to the problem should be put in the public domain for discussion so that it may have the desired effect. It is not enough for the Federal Executive Council, National Economic Council or any other organ of government to sit in a room and take the decision without sampling the opinion of citizens, given the volatile nature of the issues at stake.”

He added: “It is even more ridiculous that a ministry without a substantive Minister is presuming to announce and implement such a monumental “decision”. The RUGA Scheme as presently conceived for implementation is ill-conceived and skewed to create disaffection and divide the country and must be totally abandoned so that a better solution to the problem can be reached.”

The Archbishop then advised the government to commit more resources to securing the country’s national borders, mop up small arms that are so easily available and be decisive in bringing anyone who unleashes violence on others to book, irrespective of who they are. He added that if the perpetrators of the killings and kidnappings across the country are not urgently identified and dealt with according to the law of the land, it may give the wrong impression that impunity, murder and reckless disregard for constitutional authority by a group of outlaws remains the surest way of attracting the favour and patronage of government.


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