Former Abia State governor, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu has said he implemented RUGA herdsmen settlement policy in the state without any controversy and therefore advised the federal government to always give proper information about any of its policies before implementation in order to avoid crises.
Senator Kalu, who is now the Senate Chief Whip, said the noise generated by the recently suspended federal government policy on RUGA settlement, according to him was not properly marketed to Nigerians, particularly those in the South and North Central axis.
The policy, he disclosed was perfectly implemented by him as Abia State governor in 2001 without generating any controversy let alone mistrust or suspicion between Abians and their brothers from the North or other categories of Nigerians resident there.
“When people talk about RUGA, I wonder, in 2001 I did a RUGA in Abia. In Lokpanta I built it and the cows were being sold in Umuahia and Aba. In 2001, I invited the Hausa community and they said Umuahia and Aba we needed to decongest.
“Where we have Shoprite in Umuahia today used to be a settlement, the same thing with Aba we had an honest meeting with them and agreed that I will provide them land and water electricity, everything but this would be your location. I collected five coaster buses to show them the land and if it is agreeable by everyone.
“I had meeting with the communities and they agreed in Lokpanta and that is the biggest cow market in both South East and South South of Nigeria today. So, it is about the attitude of people to issues.
“Yes, federal government should always do very serious and extensive consultation whenever they want to embark on such issues. It is not just to go and put a deliberate policy and say I want to do RUGA. People in village don’t understand what RUGA means; they will panic and say they want to kill all of them.
“Some of us are the largest sellers of cow. I started selling cow as far back as when I was in the university; I am still selling cows till tomorrow because it is profitable so most of the cows you see are also not owned by Hausa people.
“We trade on cows. So, people should have information because information is power and power is information,” he explained.
Meanwhile, the Chief Whip of the Nigerian senate also identified a critical step that he believes the government must take to ensure successful implementation of the recent treaty on the African Continental Free Trade Area.
Senator Kalu says Nigeria must designate seven industrial centres in Aba, Kano, Onitsha, Ibadan, Nnewi, Kaduna, and Lagos, as the business zones through which implementation of the AFCTA initiative would be coordinated.
According to him, now that President Buhari has endorsed the AFCTA initiative, the next phase of the initiative is to reassess Nigeria’s situation in line with the proposed industrial zones for maximum benefits.