THE EVALUATION OF THE FULANI HERDSMEN AND FARMERS CLASHES IN THE NORTH CENTRAL GEOPOLITICAL ZONE OF NIGERIA AND SUGGESTIVE SOLUTIONS BY; ISA ABASS USMAN
The Fulani people also known as Fulani in Hausa language, are all mass population widely dispersed and culturally diverse in all of Africa, but most predominant in West Africa. The Fulani’s generally speak the Fula language. A significant number of them are nomadic in nature, herding cattle, goats and sheep across the vast dry grass lands of their environment, keeping isolate from the local farming communities, making them the world’s largest pastoral nomadic group. They are massively spread over many countries, and are found mainly in West Africa and northern parts of Central Africa.
Nigeria as a nation state is under a severe internal socio-economic and security threat. At a more general level, the threat has special economic, political and environmental dimensions. Each of these dimensions has greatly affected the nation’s stability and can be traced to the Fulani-herdsmen and farmers clash, ethnic militant armies, ethnic and religious conflicts, poverty, insurgency, armed robbery, corruption, economic sabotage.
Recently, several deaths and casualties have been recorded in series of clash between Fulani herdsmen and farmers. Most people attribute the clash between Fulani Herdsmen and Farmers to religious differences between the Muslims or Islam’s and the Christians in which several farmlands have been destroyed due to conflict erupting between farmers and herdsmen. Herdsmen attribute the roots of the crisis to religious differences resulting in the killing of their cows while the farmers see the herdsmen as a threat to their crops and agricultural produce since the herdsmen allow their cows to feed on the farmer crops. Evidences have shown these in several parts of Nigeria especially in the Nassarawa, Delta, Edo, and Benue states.
What is the dispute about?
The clashes are driven by a range of factors from the environmental to political — but at their core is the problem of land scarcity.
Climate change and the desertification of Nigeria’s north have forced the nomadic cattle herdsmen farther south to feed and sell their cattle, encroaching on the territory of sedentary farmers.
Rapid population growth — Nigeria has 180 million people today and is set to become the third largest in the world by 2050 — has worsened the competition for land.
What has the government done?
Each time there is an outbreak of violence the Nigerian government has promised to crack down on the perpetrators.
But the reality has seen herdsmen and farmers take matters into their own hands to settle scores.
“There’s no accountability, that’s the issue,”“Previous perpetrators have never been punished,” “Impunity is the most dangerous thing
Individual states are trying to introduce new laws with mixed results.
In Benue state, where many people have been killed since the start of the year, a ban on open grazing angered herders who said it threatens their way of life.
Can the violence be stopped? –ANLYTICAL-ANALIZER
1. The violence could be contained if the government focused on boosting security and enforcing legislation.
A first step would be to arrest perpetrators,
“If the people had been apprehended earlier on and dealt with, we would have been talking about another thing entirely,”
At the same time, legislation guaranteeing herders and farmers access to land has to be enforced.
2. Another viable way of keeping the crisis minimal is creating and revitalizing grazing reserves, especially within states in the north that have already indicated interest in doing so. Over the years, the victims of these clashes have been shoved aside, with no form of compensation for the lives and properties lost. It is therefore imperative to create special tribunals to investigate, prosecute offenders and compensate victims.
3. The federal government should as a matter of urgency review our border patrol system, thereby providing more security personnel, deployment of new technological facilities that will aid the immigration and other security agents to verify and admit any foreign herders entering the country. The officers must be trained to be able to identify and stop illegal intruders from entering Nigeria. All herds must have the international transhumance certificate as provided by the ECOWAS protocol.
4. Also the media should do away with this culture of exaggerating every crisis and do more of developmental and investigative journalism, crises would be averted. For instance, the pre-dawn attacks in some parts of Plateau, Benue, Kaduna, Nassarawa and Taraba states was widely reported to be perpetuated by “unknown gunmen”
The label was later switched to tagging every clash as a ‘reprisal attack by suspected Fulani herdsmen’ without reporting the original attacks that prompted these reprisals. The media keeps reporting the crisis with political and ethno-religious undertone, giving room for ethnic profiling of the entire Fulani race, accusing them of undertaking an ethnic cleansing agenda against the ‘Northern Minorities’.
Today we see how this profiling of the Fulani people has misled some into to believing that every Fulani man is violent and one who does not deserve to live.