Opinion

Bishop Ezeokafor Rejects RUGA

. . Urges NASS, Monarchs to Join

By Abuchi Onwumelu

The Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, His Excellency, Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor, has rejected any plan to establish a RUGA Settlement in any part of the South East, describing it as a misnomer, reports Abuchi Onwumelu.

The Bishop’s condemnation comes in the wake of plans by the Federal Government to establish RUGA Settlements across the country where herdsmen and their families will stay with their cattle and provided with such amenities as roads, hospitals, schools, among others.
However, lending his voice to the raging issue, Bishop Ezeokafor who stated this at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Nibo, in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State, urged the National Assembly not to consider supporting the RUGA Bill, maintaining that cattle rearing remained a private business and should not form a national discourse.

The visibly disturbed Catholic prelate also enjoined the traditional rulers not to consent to RUGA which he described as a subtle attempt by the Fulani oligarchy to subject the entire nation into a difficult situation and then possibly fulfill their nefarious ends.

‘Imagine! What are we even talking about? This issue should not be discussed in the first instance. How can we be talking about RUGA in a country like Nigeria? These people are really planning to Islamize Nigeria, but, we will not allow them. Nigeria remains a secular nation.

‘The National Assembly should not consider it at all. It is not for our own good. What we need is restructuring. We need state police. I have said it before, and I am going to say it again, that what we need is state police. Let every region manage their natural resources. Let each region build their place. Let us have state police whereby we will be safeguarding ourselves by ourselves.

‘I heard that our International Passport now carries the picture of Fulani herdsmen and their cattle. If that is true, then, we are in for serious trouble. I want to believe it is not true. How can we have such in a secular country like Nigeria? I urge the traditional rulers not to consider giving any Fulani man an inch, let alone, land, in their respective communities.

‘We should not be talking about this at this 21st Century. When other countries of the world are talking about producing cars that will run without petrol, we are here talking about RUGA. Nigeria operates a mono- economy. 95% of what we do today in Nigeria is oil driven. No country will survive that way.

‘It’s now some months after President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in for a second term and there is no cabinet in place. The only appearance of government that we see are measures that remove faith in corporate Nigeria like the Fulani Radio and negotiation with Miyetti Allah.

‘The latest is the RUGA Settlement that has polarized the country and made it more divided than it was before the amalgamation. The brazen audacity of coming up with a project in Hausa word is the crudest assault on inclusivity in a multi-ethnic country like Nigeria,’ he concluded.

In his homlily, Bishop Ezeokafor charged Christians not to be in enmity with one another but to show agape love always. The Catholic Prelate, who stressed the importance of investing in God’s vineyard and its reward, stated that it was expected of every Christian to keep the law, be humble and show love to one another as Christ charged them.

Bishop Ezeokafor during the visit, administered the Sacrament of Confirmation on deserving candidates and urged them to live according to the faith and teachings of the Church.

The Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Paulus-Maria Okafor, said the bishop’s pastoral visit to the church would attract more grace to the parishioners.

In an interview, the Awka Diocesan Director of Social Communications and Director of Fides Communications, Rev. Fr. Dr. Martin Chuks Anusi, corroborated Bishop Ezeokafor’s stance on RUGA, and called on the Igbo elite, traditional rulers, as well as Presidents General of various communities, to support the bishop in his call against RUGA Settlement.

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