Skirmishes between farmers and herders in Nigeria particularly in the
North Central states are not new phenomena; the conflicts are as old
as the Nigerian nation. They have been with
us since time immemorial. Indeed, these conflicts
are not a creation of anyone. The conflicts are the creation of
nature. Nature made it possible for the human race to farm so as
to feed just as same nature also made it imperative for cattle to graze. Of
note is the fact that both the farmers and the herders serve one and
same purpose in our life, both are of equal importance to our
existence. It was in recognition of their significance and to avoid
conflicts that the colonial masters designated grazing routes for ease
of both farmers and herders.
Late Brigadier- General John Shagaya in a no-holds- barred interview
with Daily Trust (January 27, 2018) shortly before his demise and titled:
“We must understand dimension of farmers/herders clashes”, identified
convincingly, factors behind farmers/herders conflicts in Nigeria.
In the said interview Brigadier – General Shagaya gave an
insight into factors responsible for recent farmers/herders clashes as
he identified desert encroachment, drying of Lake Chad as well as
blocking of source of water by the Cameroonian authorities as some of
the factors responsible for migration of more numbers of herders down
through Benue and Niger troughs, for feeding.
Other factors according to Late General include, the collapsed of Muammar Gaddafi’s government in Libya
which made it possible for dangerous weapons to fall into the hands of
soldiers of fortune comprising of Chadians, Niger nationals and
Nigerians who now moved to the North East as well as politicization of the
issues by ethnic groups.
As a solution, the late Shagaya advocated for ranching and
admonished, “We must start seeing certain national problems as
problems of the country and not a problem of one religion or a
problem of Buhari because he is a Fulani man and a Fulani man entered
a farm, we have to outgrow that”
He was right and as I observed
elsewhere here, it was nature that brought these problems of
farmers/herders in Nigeria but politicization of the issues compounded
the matter particularly now that we have a Fulani man as president of
the country. As noted by many political commentators, farmers/herders
clashes claimed more lives during the last PDP administration but since
Jonathan is not a Fulani man, the issue did not generated intense
bashing of his administration. Our media today have become so obsessed
with Fulani herdsmen that anything that has to do with them attracts
screaming headlines, just to give Buhari’s administration a bad aura.
Now since those assigned to give the Buhari administration bad aura don’t
want the killings to stop, they are now waging another campaign to
stop the proposed cattle ranching in the country which many perceive
as the only solution to these endless farmers/herders clashes. A campaign
has already started to stop cattle ranches in Nigeria. There is now a
campaign in the media to the effect that the proposed cattle ranches
is a ploy by the federal government to create havens for Fulani
herdsmen and they are even warning the federal government not to use
state resources for building of these ranches. What all these
mean is that these people are not interested in solutions to these
problems of farmers/herders in Nigeria; what they were interested in is
continuation of the killings. To them continuation of the killings of
their fellow human beings is okay because the killings are serving
their political interests.
The decision therefore by the Nasarawa state government to support the
federal government’s proposed cattle ranching in the state is
not only a welcome development but is something that the people of
the state must support with an open mind.
This support by the Nasarawa state government for cattle ranching was
contained in a press statement issued last week and signed by the
Secretary to the State Government, Barr. Mohammed Hassan Abdullahi.
The statement which described the decision of the federal government
on modern ranching as laudable, further expressed the willingness of
Nasarawa state to key into the programme and approved that the
seven gazetted grazing reserves located at Awe, Keana, Doma, Assakio,
Konva, Gitata and Kurudu be utilized for purposes of ranching
in the state.
The action of the Nasarawa state government in supporting cattle
ranching demonstrates its desire to end farmers/herders clashes in
Nasarawa state since cattle ranching was identified as the only
proactive step towards lasting solution to the age-old challenge of
We have experienced enough of these farmers/herders conflicts in
Nasarawa state. Many lives have been lost and billions of naira worth of properties
destroyed through these conflicts. We must therefore support this
initiative in our own interest and development. Farmers/herders
clashes have wrecked a great havoc to our social cohesion in the state.
It would serve no purpose for us to recap how these conflicts have
dealt a deadly blow on our social cohesion but suffice it to say
however, that the conflict has damaged some existing
bonds between our people and only this cattle ranching can heal
Supporting the state and federal government on establishment of cattle
ranches in Nasarawa state has became an imperative, for we cannot afford to ignore this beautiful initiative. We must ‘shine’ our eyes
and have it always at the back of our minds that any person that comes
to us with an untoward idea that we should not embrace cattle ranching, we
should consider that person as our enemy.