Few days ago, I was fortunate to attend a lecture delivered by Professor A.B Aromolaran, Dean Faculty of Agriculture, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akangba Ondo State Nigeria. The title of the lecture was “Cattle Ranching: Solution to Farmer-Herdsmen clash in Nigeria”.
The Professor cited cogent points and stated recommended policies to help nip the menace of the activities of Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria in the bud. This I found very imperative to share to the populace perhaps to it could get to the bigwigs in the agricultural sector of Nigeria for implementation, if need be.
Nigeria, being a country of many tribes and diverse cultural orientation, has faced lots of torments over the last two years in the hands of her citizens. Both farmers and herdsmen play significant roles in the economic development of Nigeria; they work hand-in-hand to provide one of the basic needs of man, food, for Nigerians. They are very relevant and the interest of both parties have to be protected.
Since the inception of this national menace, over 2000 lives have been lost and a humongous number of families have been displaced in states like Benue, Taraba, Kaduna, Katsina, Plateau among others. It really saddens my heart as I write. May souls of the deceased rest in perfect peace.
Looking at this incidence holistically; the two parties, the farmers and the herdsmen, are both protecting their interest. The farmers want to reap what he sows to sustain his family while the herdsmen do not want their herd to die of hunger, hence, have to move forward in search of food in other parts of the country.
The two parties presume “land” as a natural resource, hence a means of sustenance. During the dry season, the Fulani herdsmen move southward, where the vegetation still bloom, to feed their cattle. This is, sincerely, “a must” because they can’t afford to lose their herd; and because they have the orientation that land is a free resource, they go to any extent to ensure their cattle survive.
For information sake, Fulani controls over 90% of the meat production in Nigeria; this accounts for one-third of the GDP of Nigeria. They are very relevant and need to be protected as the farmer that cultivated what we eat daily. The ominous activities of Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria has to be controlled as fast as possible; the government needs to take an agile approach to curb the menace because of the following reasons:
- Increase in population growth: Nigeria population is increasing at an alarming rate. This implies that there is a need for more food supply and peace in the nation to salvage the unborn generations.
- Climate change: It is no longer news that the climate is becoming epileptic and different from what we used to have in the past. We now have a long spell of the dry season in Nigeria. This means that the economic activities of Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria are more vulnerable to this change and the only way to safe their business and conversely maintain the GDP is to move southward.
Hence this menace must stop as fast as possible.
Lasting solutions to farmers-herdsmen clash in Nigeria.
To ensure peace and harmony as we used to have in the past the government must look closely to these points:
- Reference the constitution, where it is reinstated that the resources are equal.
- Protect the rights of the herdsmen.
- Protect the rights to the farmers.
- Reinstating human right.
Possible actions to end to farmers-herdsmen clash in Nigeria:
- Enlightening human resources: Every Nigerian, irrespective of the language, tribe or color, must be treated equally to foster love and affection. Ethnicity should not be a source of variation; Nigerians must learn to appreciate and accommodate each other’s differences.
- Establishment of grazing reserve: This is the only feasible solution to farmers-herdsmen clash in Nigeria. Any state that consumes meat must provide expanse of land for grazing. It is saddening that some states in Nigeria rejected this proposal of grazing reserves, forgetting that the Fulani are also citizens of Nigeria; this notion must be corrected to foster love in the country. Grazing reserve must be established; it creates more jobs and also increase government revenue.
- Identification of suitable reserve in Sahara areas: The government can make use of the Sahara areas to reduce the clash and bring peace to this state by providing basic amenities for the Fulani to live and peace and harmony. The herdsmen would also pay for these amenities in form of taxation for maintenance of the amenities.
Farmers-herdsmen clash is a major source of insecurity in Nigeria. It has the propensity to last longer if left unattended or through consolatory approach. It needs an agile approach where the interest of both parties is protected.
Adapted from a lecture delivered by Professor A.B Aromolaran, Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akangba, Ondo state.
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