The President, Christian Association of Nigeria, Dr Supo Ayokunle, as well as top members of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria and other Christian
The President, Christian Association of Nigeria, Dr Supo Ayokunle, as well as top members of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria and other Christian bodies, including the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, on Saturday asked President Muhammadu Buhari to completely scrap the suspended Rural Grazing Area scheme, popularly known as Ruga.
This was disclosed at the Church leaders’ stakeholders’ summit, themed, ‘RUGA: The church’s response in the 21st century,’ which held at the Shepherd Hill Baptist Church, in Lagos on Saturday.
Other church leaders present at the summit included the President of the Christian Council of Nigeria, Most Rev Benebo Fubara-Manuel; President of the Organisation of African Instituted Churches, Dr Napo Emuchey; Vice-President of CAN, Rev Caleb Ahima, and the acting General Secretary, CAN, Mr Joseph Daramola.
However, the President, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Rev Felix Omobude; the Presiding Bishop, Living Faith Church Worldwide, Dr David Oyedepo; and the President, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Archbishop Augustine Akubeze, who were all billed to attend the summit, according to the programme of the event, were absent.
But the spokesperson for CAN, Pastor Bayo Oladeji, said all the blocs of the Christian body were represented at the meeting. Reacting to observations that Omobude was not in attendance, Oladeji said the cleric was out of the country.
Speaking at the summit, which centred on insecurity in the country, the CAN president said the association’s involvement in the debate was needed as CAN, which is the umbrella body for all Christians in the country, could not fold its arms when the church was hurting very badly at the hands of Fulani herdsmen.
Many Nigerians have been killed as a result of clashes between farmers and Fulani herdsmen in the past months and years. In its report for 2018, Human Rights Watch, an international non-governmental organisation, said communal conflict between nomadic herdsmen and farmers in the Middle Belt intensified in 2018 and that at least 1,600 persons were killed while about 300,000 persons were displaced.
The Federal Government, in finding a solution to the clashes, designed the Ruga scheme to settle the Fulani and their cattle on acquired land across states of the federation. The scheme however attracted severe criticism, forcing the Federal Government to suspend the scheme on July 3, 2019, even though some states in the North, like Zamfara and Kano, decided to continue with its implementation.
But speaking at the stakeholders’ summit on Saturday, Ayokunle while commending the President for suspending the Ruga scheme, said, “We believe Ruga was just an unnecessary impediment in the wheel of the nation’s progress. We urge President Muhammadu Buhari that he must summon courage to go further by scrapping it completely.”
In his earlier special address on the theme, Ayokunle said the association took painstaking approach to set up a committee to dig deep into the issue of Ruga before coming up with recommendations. He added, “Anything that smacks of mutual suspicion should be avoided in the interest of national unity. The Federal Government should immediately disarm and prosecute the Fulani herdsmen terrorists that have been recorded as one of the deadliest terrorists groups in the world.
“The group of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association which openly supported the activities of the murderous Fulani herdsmen be identified and banned immediately. President Buhari should suspend his membership and patronage of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association until he leaves office to reduce tension.”
Meanwhile, Adeboye, who urged the stakeholders to listen with anointed ears to his rather proverbial address at the event. He said he would relay an encounter he had with a close, mathematician friend of his, whom he said advised Christians to reduce or stop the consumption of beef.
He said, “Please, do not quote me, quote my friend. Listen with anointed ears. I have a friend who is a mathematician and he is very funny. My mathematician friend told me a story that a cattle rearer kills your brother and your brother’s blood spilled on the grass and the cow eats from the grass, directly or indirectly, you are also participating in the killing of that your brother.
“Someone cannot be killing your brother and you are eating his cow meat. My friend said if you begin to allow them to rear cow at your backyard, very soon, they will send you out of your house. My friend also said that even the scientists have said that red meat is not good for our health and we are buying cow meat, why can’t we eat fish which has been confirmed to be the best for us. My friend said if we stop eating cow meat for a while, the man who sells it will come and renegotiate the terms.”