Worried by the unquantifiable socio-economic losses associated with the lingering herdsmen/farmers clashes in major states and the growing negative implications for national food security, scores of agricultural sector stakeholders rose from a one-day workshop Monday in Abuja with a univocal call on the governments and the National Assembly to show more sincerity in tackling the menace.
The stakeholders, who comprised small holder farmers, representatives from Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), major civil society organizations (CSOs), academia, farmers’ groups and researchers, amongst others, noted that past efforts to tackle the menace failed because of lack of political will on the part of national leaders or their socio-cultural and religious biases as well as possibly lack of understanding of the root causes.
The dialogue, which was organized by the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) with support and collaboration of TrustAfrica, focused on the ‘thematic issues on agriculture in Nigeria’.
In his paper presented on the issues surrounding the herdsmen/famers clashes and how the crisis has degenerated into a seeming unmanageable level over the past few years at the forum, a researcher and Programme Officer TNI, Chris Kaka, analysed the socio-cultural and ethno-religious and climatic dimensions of the clashes, submitting that if the political leaders had taken time to critically appraise the context of the feuds, they would have constituted a threat, as we have it now, to national and indeed, food security.
This is even as he suggested that in order to completely address the challenges of the clashes, political and traditional leaders, governments, small holder farmers’ representatives, the civil society groups and other stakeholders must go beyond the current sentimental approach of describing the crisis and come up with fundamental, issue-based and legislative solutions to deal with the clashes once and for all to guarantee security of lives and property as well as create enabling environment for food security in the country.
Some of the discussants, including the National President of National Association of Nigerian Traders, Barrister Ken Ukaoha, a university don, Professor Seth Akutson; Deputy Executive Secretary, Federation of Agricultural Commodity Associations of Nigeria (FACAN), Prince Peter Bakare; and representative of All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Chris Onwuka; amongst others, agreed with the submissions of the presenter and tasked the leaders to adopt a more proactive strategy in dealing with the clashes.
One issue that took much time during the dialogue was the need for government, political leaders, the media and the public to properly classify the clashes rather than giving the feuds some descriptions that are usually intended to whip up ethno-religious or cultural sentiments and empathy.
Specifically, the participants believe that the clashes are between livestock and crop farmers and therefore should be seen in that light by all stakeholders, particularly the political leaders, such that solutions should be genuinely proffered to the clashes with that mindset in order to guarantee lasting peace among the livestock and crop farmers.