Ali Abare, Gombe
The lingering farmers/herdsmen conflict across the country is not as a result of differences in ethnicity or religion, but fierce competition for access to diminishing land and water resources.
This was part of a communique issued on Wednesday at the end of a two-day first national conference on the dynamics of pastoral nomadism in contemporary Nigeria, which held at the Federal University of Kashere.
Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Alhassan Mohammed Gani, read the communiqué to newsmen at the Gombe International Hotel.
While noting that the conflict between farmers and herdsmen has led to incalculable destruction across the country, undermining national stability and security, participants identified diminishing land and water resources in the Chad/Benue drainage basins, engendered by Climate Change and human activity, as leading cause of the crisis.
The communiqué argued against the trivialisation of the conflict between farmers and herders as well as the refusal by policy makers, opinion leaders and even experts, to admit the conflict a matter of public interest.
“Often, the claim is that cattle rearing and farming are personal enterprise,” the participants said.
“The enormity of the conflict makes it a matter of public interest due to the evidence of the colossal economic, social and political consequences.”
They observed that lack of formative action towards identifying, reassessing and building a strategic roadmap for the development of the millions of hectares legally acquired by the Federal Government across various states for the purpose of grazing.
It equally noted that conflict between farmers and herdsmen is a familiar phenomenon across the world, but has been strategically managed in the interest of both parties and society.
On the way forward, the participants, among others recommendations, suggested the need to design “appropriate, comprehensive and positive integration programme to integrate nomadic herdsmen into the Nigerian society, culturally and politically.”
It also called for the creation of a fund for the programme of making herdsmen sedentary, to be used in subsidizing access to land, development of ranches and capacity building for the intensification of pastoralism and crop production.
The conference also tasked the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, Ministry for Agriculture and all relevant Federal agencies on the urgent need to assess and build a strategic roadmap for the development of the millions of hectares legally acquired by the Federal Government, in line with Section 28-29 of the Land Use Act.
“States that are politically willing, especially in the two major livestock corridors in the northeast and northwest, should be supported by the Federal Government to resuscitate moribund grazing reserves and develop new ones,” the communiqué recommended.
About 1,200 participants attended the conference, including government representatives from relevant state and Federal MDAs, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, the academia, civil society organizations, students and media.
It brought together experts, policymakers, specialised agencies, CSOs, farmers and herdsmen representatives as well as researchers to exchange views and share information on burning issue of pastoral nomadism in contemporary Nigeria.
The technical session featured the presentation of 9 papers and a roundtable discussion for input from select stakeholders.