The Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, on Tuesday advised all Nigerians to actively play a role in ending the incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the country.
He stated this at a three-day National Conference organised by Faculty of Law, Ahmadu Bello University held in Zaria, Kaduna State.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the theme of the conference is: “Promoting Peace, Security and Human Rights: Curbing Unsavoury Relationship between Herdsmen and Farmers in Nigeria”.
Buratai, who was represented by the Commandant, Depot Nigerian Army, Zaria, Maj-Gen. Victor Okwudili-Ezugwu, said the call became necessary in view of the recurrence of the conflict across the country.
He observed that herdsmen/farmers conflict had remained global and well known historical phenomena, adding that the two groups derived their means of livelihood around common resources, including land and water.
Buratai observed that while developed societies have found a way out of the problem, some parts of Africa and indeed sub-Saharan Africa were still grabbing with the problem.
The COAS attributed causes of herdsmen/farmer conflicts to competition for scarce resources, urban development and land grabbing, increase in herds population, destruction of farmers’ crops, encroachment on grazing routes and lack of acceptance of herders by host communities.
He also identified climate change as one of the key causes of conflict, saying it leads to environmental degradation, desertification, drought and inadequate rainfall in some places which forced herders to move around the country.
Buratai prayed that the conference would at the end proffer solutions which would be acceptable to the government toward ending the crisis.
He said: “Nigeria is a great nation, nobody will argue that and Nigeria is the hope of Africa, nobody will argue that too.
“Therefore, I want to pray that the deliberations we are going to have here will find solutions for our national unity to be unequivocal and sacrosanct.”
In a goodwill message, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, prayed that at the end of the conference, solutions would be proffered to end the conflict.
Saraki, represented by Prof. Nuhu Jamo, Dean Faculty of Law, ABU, assured that the National Assembly was ready to act on the outcome of the deliberations that required legislation.
He lamented that the problem which started at the basic level now degenerated and assumed national dimension, adding that matters relating to the two groups were very important to the existence of Nigeria.
In a goodwill message, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who was represented by the Director, National Orientation Agency Kaduna State, Alhaji Zubairu Galadiman- Soba, promised to act on the outcome of the conference.
Mohammed said: “NOA is waiting for the outcome of this conference to take it to the grassroots and in our efforts at Mass Mobilisation and Value Reorientation, we shall put across the outcomes to the people of Nigeria.
“Whether you call them farmers, herdsmen or whatever, we know they are people of the same profession trying as much as possible to uplift their profession against incursion by others.
“But this is a very unique situation, where farmers who are supposed to be pillars of development and pillars of the nation are at loggerheads with their partners in the same profession.
“Without farmers, industrialisation will not be possible and decent living will not be possible. NOA will surely go to work with the outcomes of this conference.”
The ABU Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ibrahim Garba, applauded the efforts of Faculty of Law for what he described as a giant stride towards providing a lasting solution to the herdsmen/farmers conflicts.
The V-C, who was represented by Prof. Sheik Abdallah, a former Minister of Agriculture, said: “Nothing can be more topical than the choice of this topic to curtail the ugly and undesirable consensus”.