Former Commissioner for Agriculture in Abia state and a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ugwu Rocks Emma, Tuesday, lambasted the current Senator representing Abia North district in the National Assembly, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, over his claim that he (Kalu) provided land for the resettlement of Fulani herders when he served as Governor of Abia.
DAILY POST had reported that the Chief Whip of the Nigerian Senate and former Governor Kalu revealed that he pioneered “Ruga Settlement” in Abia State when he governed the state between 1999 to 2007.
The lawmaker, who is a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, during an interaction with the Senate Press Corps on Friday in Abuja, stressed that as governor, he provided land for Fulani settlement in Umuahia.
“I provided land for herders in Umuahia during my time as governor of Abia State where cattle were brought from the North for sale across the South-East and there were no problems,” he had said.
But, the ex-Commissioner, while reacting in a statement made available to newsmen, in Umuahia, the state capital, on Tuesday, countered Kalu’s claims, pointing out that the former governor lied that he provided land for Ruga Settlement for Fulani herdsmen when he was governor of the state.
The statement reads, “The has become necessary in order not to allow the Nigerian public and the world be deceived by a Senator who should know better than to paint his Constituency Black. It is either the Senator does not understand RUGA or he has his reasons for trying to mislead the Nation. As a Commissioner for Agriculture, the place Orji Kalu is talking about (Lokpanta cattle market) was under my Ministry. Certain activities there also concerned the Ministry of Commerce. It is simply a cattle market transferred from the Old Gariki (Garki) near Amuzukwu Umuahia.
“There are no Schools, hospitals, Network of roads, FGN-Assited- Community -Infrastructure and no permanent residency. It was because of the nuisance this Garki (pronounced as GARIKI) was causing Umuahia residents that informed relocating the trade to Ubakala. The traders did not like it and Imo State gave them a place at Okigwe along Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway, thereby blocking the accruing revenue to Abia. Governor Orji Kalu then went further the express to Lokpanta and provided space for the cattle market, thereby collecting the revenue before it will get to Okigwe/Imo State.
“Today, that spot is the most nasty spot from Enugu to Port Harcourt . The cattle traders are tenants and not Landlords. Yet, it is home to the worst type of indiscipline and disregard to public safety to users of the expressway. RUGA would mean Lokpanta times 5000 in Land and times 1,000,000 in infrastructure. Security risk would mean times 5000 times 1,000,000. The Senator should consider this to realise what he is wishing his people. But it is obvious he has misunderstood Ruga Gariki is not Ruga. Enugu gariki was there before Lokpanta . Others too.
“So if gariki is Ruga , Orji Kalu was not the one who established it in the South East. Again, for those irked by his support for Ruga and advising him to make land available in Igbere or Bende LGA of Abia State, he does not have our mandate to do that. I know our position on Ruga. As a former Elected Chairman of Bende LGA and a major Stakeholder, I speak authoritatively on this matter.
“For emphasis, Trading Spots along major highways are not the same as the proposed (but suspended and really should be cancelled) Ruga Settlement. If not , Ore along Lagos-Benin, Oboloafor along Enugu-Markudi, Umunede along Onitsha-Benin-Lagos, Lokoja along Kogi-Abuja expressways would all be called Ruga Settlements. My advise therefore to the Senator is to come home and flow with his people who have said NO TO RUGA.”