Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, recently called on the anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to probe contracts awarded for the establishment of RUGA settlements in parts of the country.
It will be recalled that 11 pilot states were earmarked for the project and N 2.25 billion allocated for it in the 2019 budget before the public outcry against the project led to its suspension by the federal government.
BUT governor Ortom who spoke recently in Makurdi said he had it on good authority that despite the suspension of the project, the contract monies were released to the contractors. This is a matter of serious public concern that should not be swept under the carpet or allowed to go with the wind.
WHEN the Federal Government exhibited desperation to entrench open grazing of cattle to favour Fulani herdsmen and was rejected by Nigerians, it announced introduction of RUGA which was quickly discovered to be the smuggling of open grazing through the back door, it was rejected with protests across the land.
THE overwhelming opposition to the programme forced the Federal Government to suspend it. Curiously, while Nigerians celebrated their victory over the fall of RUGA, no one has cared to follow up on what became of the structures that the Federal Government had raised preparatory to the implementation of the programme.
APART from doubting the sincerity of the Federal Government in suspending the programme due to public outcry, there is need for the government to assure the nation that there is no deception in its dealings with the citizens as far as the issue of RUGA is concerned.
THE whistle blown by Governor Samuel Ortom over the RUGA project, justifies skeptics of the move of the Federal Government. Therefore, we commend Governor Ortom for his sense of history which has enabled him to follow up on RUGA and made the discovery.
WE equally join him in asking: if RUGA was suspended by the Federal Government following public outcry, where has the N2.25 billion gone to?
We also call on the EFCC and other anti-graft agencies in the country to respond and follow up on the whistle blown by the governor on RUGA project.