Prof. Isaac Albert, an expert on Peace and Conflict Resolutions, has urged Nigerians to avoid politicising the Farmer-Herder issue, saying herders are assets and not liabilities to the country.
Albert gave the advice at a two-day seminar organised by the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), tagged “Addressing Farmer-Herder Relations in the Lake Chad and Western Sahel’’ in Abuja.
Cue in audio (Albert)
“We have the capacity within the sub-region to deal with the problem, but the problem is that the issue has been politicised, it has been ethicised and too much religion has been brought into it.
“And therefore, when anybody is responding to the problem, he will respond to the problem according to these sentiments.
“If I am a Christian, I consider the Fulani to be Muslims and I don’t want to talk to them, I don’t want to listen to them, if I am a Muslim I see anybody complaining about Fulani to be saying something that is not cogent.
“So, what I am saying is that let us take politics out of the management of the problem, ethnicity out of the problem, and allow the primary stakeholders to talk.
“If we allow them to talk they will come up with their solutions that will work for all of us.
Cue out audio (Albert)
Albert said both herder and farmers were important and of economic benefits to the country.
According to him, we have to look at the Farmer-Herder crisis from two perspectives, we either see it as a liability or we look at it as assets.
“If we approach it from the political economy dimension you will realise that the animals produced and pastured by this herdsmen create not only food for us, but there is the economic value that is not taken into consideration.
“The person who sells food, hide and skin and is doing any business related to animals is benefiting from the activities of herdsmen.
“Therefore, when we close our eyes and say herdsmen should be driven away, we are not familiar with the value chain” and that is part of the issue we are dealing with here,’’ he said.
Albert called for a roundtable with all parties affected by the conflict as a viable approach to dealing with the situation.
The expert said that the farmer-herder crisis does not affect Nigeria alone, noting that it is a regional problem that affects the Sahel, the Lake Chad basin and West Africa as a whole.
Also, the President of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Kabiru Ibrahim, urged the media to sensitise the public to the efforts of stakeholders, to curb the menace.
Malam Yahaya Isa, the Secretary General of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), on his part stressed the need to adopt the traditional methods of handling disputes, which he said worked better than subscribing to western ideologies.
Also, the Country Director, Search for Common Ground in Nigeria, Sher Ali Nawaz said farmer herder clash had claimed more lives when compared with other conflicts in the country.
Cue in audio (Nawaz on lives lost)
“What happened is, in 2018 almost around 2,800 people died because of this conflict.
“ The figures are estimates because you never get the actual figures, but there are claims that it has claimed more lives than some of the other conflicts in the country.
“ And, along with that, I think with climate change, 320,000 hectares of land become uncultivable every year.
“And we are having an increase in the population all of these factors are contributing to the escalation of the conflict.
“The most important thing is that the Federal Government and the Civil Society groups should come together to address these issues.
Cue out audio (Nawaz)
He noted that women were the worst affected by the conflict as they lose brothers, sons, and husbands on a daily basis.
The seminar was organised with the support of Search for Common Ground (SCG) and Forum on Farmers and Herders Relations in Nigeria (FFARN).
Nigeria News Agency reports that the seminar aims to create opportunity for peace building by scholars and national and regional policymakers to exchange ideas, experience and insight on farmers/herdsmen conflict and its transnational impact in the Sahel.
Edited by Lydia Beshel/Felix Ajide