Hon. Tajudeen Abbas, Speaker of the House of Representatives, has enjoined all farmers and herders, traditional leaders and other stakeholders to, as a matter of urgency, nip in the bud the age-long conflict between farmers and herders in Nigeria. He lamented that farmer-herder clashes, which were hitherto seen as a regional or a confined conflict, have taken a new dimension as it has expanded and grown into a wider conflict beyond the borders of many west African countries.
The lawmaker was speaking at the opening ceremony of the stakeholders interactive session held by the House Ad-hoc Committee on the “Recurring Annual Clashes Between Farmers and Herders in Yamaltu/Deba Local Government Area Of Gombe State, and Neighbouring Local Government Areas, Including Other Regions Of The Country With Similar Incidents” in Abuja, where he was represented by the Deputy Speaker, Hon Benjamin Kalu.
More than 60,000 deaths have been recorded since 2001.
He said that the legislative chamber resolved to take a critical look into the causes, nature, dimensions, actors, impact, and possible solution to the nagging national challenge because of the implications for the collective good of the nation. The clashes have resulted in avoidable losses of lives and property. It is estimated that over 60,000 people have been killed since 2001. He said that the number of deaths, injuries, and kidnapped persons constitutes an alarming situation and poses a serious national security threat for Nigeria quest to attain food security and alternative foreign earnings from the agricultural sector.
While commending the committee for its prompt response to the request of the House to investigate the herder-farmer clashes, he enjoined members to be guided by the values of integrity, fairness, and social justice as they carry out the all-important national assignment. He urged them to also engage relevant stakeholders in open dialogues, including representatives from the security sector, and socio-cultural groups as well as experts in mediation, dialogue, conflict management, and peace building.
Government must strike a balance between groups.
Commenting on the matter, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, who was represented by Professor Abdullahi Mohammed Ya’u, lamented that farmer-herder conflicts have taken more lives than most of the crises seen in the country. Surprisingly, the problem is still ongoing and affecting the nation’s collective socio-economic interests. He said that the NSA office has expanded its focus to tackle the security issues involved by addressing the issue through dialogue, community engagements in collaboration with all relevant authorities.
A memorandum submitted by Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, titled “Memorandum on Disputes Between Farmers and Herders In Yamaltu-Deba Local Government Area, Gombe State,” stated that these conflicts have a significant impact on the livelihood of Nigerians in Yamaltu-Deba and other places. It further noted that understanding and addressing changes in access to grazing land or water sources is crucial in mitigating conflicts between herders and farmers in the area. Hence, to reduce conflicts and ensure the co-existence of herders and farmers in the region, the government must strike a balance between the needs and rights of groups, promote sustainable land and water management practices, and implement inclusive policies.
Multifaceted approach needed to address the root cause.
Similarly, in a presentation by its national president, Khalil Mohammed Bello, Kulen Allah Cattle Rearer Association of Nigeria (KACRAN) stated that the failure of states and federal governments to take sustainable actions contributed a lot to the escalation of the conflict. He cited some anti-grazing laws restricting the free movement of Pastoralists, which he said infringes on the principle of free movement of people – a constitutional right of every Nigerian. Meanwhile, the chairman of the committee, Hon Bappa Aliyu Misau, said that the government needs a multifaceted approach that integrates the effort of governments, the private Sector, and civil society organizations.