Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Federal Government of Nigeria have renewed efforts to address problems associated with transhumance and its attendant security concerns.
The development is the outcome of a meeting between the Minister of Interior, Lt.-General Abdurahman Danbazau (rtd) and the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Marcel de Souza in Abuja.
Danbazau, in his remarks, maintained that the dimensions of regional security have become more challenging, what with the herder-farmer clashes occurring alongside terrorists attacks.
The Federal Government, he said, is seeking collaborative support to tackle the drivers of dangerous crossborder activities which was identified as the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.
“Clashes between cattle herders and farmers are tending to be more prevalent in Nigeria, owing to its size and population. We think that we and ECOWAS should come together to look at the wider dimension.
“We require stability in the region, hence this high-level conference is being proposed to examine among others, the ecological dimension such as desertification and draught,” the ECOWAS Commission, in a statement made available to Daily Sun in Abuja, quoted Danbazau to have said during the meeting.
The ECOWAS Commission added that with the concurrence of the Nigerian side, a high-level inter-ministerial conference will be convoked sometime in February, 2018 to find amicable solutions to the problems.
The inter-ministerial meeting comprising appropriate ministries will be supported by designated focal persons from the Nigerian end, as well as a relevant directorate from the ECOWAS Commission.
On his part, the ECOWAS Commission President told Danbazau that cooperation between the two sides had become imperative given the complex nature of the problem of transhumance.
“He told his guests that the clashes between herders and farmers have become incessant following the occurrence of pockets of draught leading to increased wave of movements of cattle to the coastal areas of the region.
“And if herders are moving with arms at a time when there is a reduced number of arable land, this has a serious security implication. Whereas, it is the ECOWAS Commission that regulates the movement of arms into West Africa,” de Souza said.
The ECOWAS Commission President further lamented poor commitment by national governments of states to the ECOWAS Protocol on Transhumance, where parties to the conflict are unaware of the provisions of the protocol with regards to corridors which provide grazing opportunities.