The Governor of Borno State, Professor Babagana Umara, has donated parts of the Sambisa forest, for use in Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) programme. A programme already steeped in distrust and mired with controversy after the Federal Government again bungled the implimentation of their landmark agricultural programm. The donation of parts of the Boko Haram enclave, into an area of use for a government cattle grazing project by the State seems to have some elements of ‘cheek in tongue’. When we consider the Sambisa forest was set aside by the then colonial government as a game reserve and area preserved for the sake of the abundant and vibrant population of leopards, lions, elephants, hyenas, etc. Today it is notorious as an area over-run by bandits and terrorist, this is where the Borno State government is donating for us as RUGA?

The governor however mobilised the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), Agro Rangers and hunters to secure the large expanse of the forest and make it safe for the scheme. The allocated area (forest) covers six council areas of Konduga, Bama, Gwoza, Chibok, Damboa and Askira/Uba. The governor made the decision public last Monday when he hosted the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Garbai El-Kanemi, who paid him Sallah homage. He said the deployment of agro rangers, vigilantes and hunters are to protect farmers and herders in their respective communities.

Umara told the monarch that the state government would also deploy an Emergency Rapid Response Team (ERRT), comprising of security personnel, to protect commuters and rural dwellers against Boko Haram insurgents and bandits. According to the governor, “This administration is determined to strengthen the security architecture to encourage farming and herding activities across the state. “We’re also distributing 80 patrol vehicles to the response team so that farmers, herders and commuters could move as well as travel within a radius of 30-40 kilometres of Maiduguri metropolis.”

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