A coalition of eminent Nigerians has suggested ways to end the incessant farmers-herders clashes in the country.
The Nigerians under the aegis of the Nigerian Working Group on Peace Building and Governance, suggested the establishment of grazing reserves, development of a new policy framework on farmers-pastoralists relations as some of the solutions to tackle the crisis.
In a memorandum, released after its meeting in Abuja, yesterday, the Group primarily fingered the country’s population explosion which has led to an expansion in cultivated farmland and a reduction in available grazing land for pastoralists, this, coupled with agro-climatic conditions such as desertification, which have forced pastoralists further south as major causes of the conflict.
In the memo, the group also identified blockage of transhumance routes, the politicisation of legal regimes and the resistance to the enactment or implementation of laws as other causative factors.
Plateau, Kaduna, Niger, Nassarawa, Benue, Taraba, and Adamawa States were identified by the Group as areas worst hit by the crisis.
It berated the recent efforts by some states such as Ekiti, Taraba, Edo and Benue to enact laws against grazing, noting, that the new laws are bound to meet implementation hurdles, being inconsistent with clear provisions of the Nigerian Constitution on freedom of movement.
It also called for the modernisation of the livestock industry in the country and recommended commercial ranches, private sector investment in modern dairy farms, sensitisation programmes, adoption of time tested conflict resolution frameworks as possible solutions.
The group called for quick measures to address the Boko Haram crisis which has negatively impacted livestock production. The Memorandum noted that: “specific measures are required to address the Boko Haram insurgency in the North Eastern States of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, and Yobe, which have close to 40% of the total cattle, sheep, and goats of the National herd. These States also have the highest number of grazing reserves 255 or 61% of the 415 nationally identified grazing reserves”.
Furthermore, the Memo called on the media to adopt international best practices on reporting issues of conflict and banditry as well as the harmonisation of laws on livestock as they exist at the state, regional and national levels – digital tracking of cattle was also suggested in order to tackle menace posed by cattle rustling.
The Group has Professor Ibrahim Gambari, General Martin Luther Agwai (Rtd), Professor Jibrin Ibrahim, Professor Attahiru Jega, Dr. Chris Kwaja, Ambassador Fatima Balla, Dr. Nguyan Fesse, Mrs. Aisha Muhammed – Oyebode and Mallam Y. Z. Ya’u as members. agronigeria.com.