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At inception, TERRIFIC HEADLINES promised to focus on a broad spectrum of the global community with emphasis on Nigeria, Africa and indeed the whole world. We disclosed that our activities and publications would always be in good faith, and for future generations, in recognition of virtues and values that are worth reading and recording for posterity. Therefore, we shall sensitize Nigerians on their rights, privileges and obligations and to also influence the citizenry to embrace peaceful conducts and progress of the polity. We equally asserted that we will entertain only issue-based discussions grounded on merit, patriotism, fair play and justice. Therefore, our publications have been chiefly directed at influencing the citizenry for improvements and better standards of living and conducts, through sensitization and advocacy activities. We don’t do gossips.
For the next few weeks, TERRIFIC HEADLINES will publish the views of notable Nigerians and scholars of repute as a means of educating the government and the governed. Accordingly, we have lined up erudite scholars and experts in their different callings to express opinions about wide-raging issues that are beneficial to the society. These include Prof. Tunde Adeniran, OFR, Nigeria’s former Minister of Education, later Ambassador to Germany, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, CFR, OCRT, former Foreign Affairs Minister of Nigeria, former United Nations Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs & current Chairman, Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy & Development, Abuja, Nigeria & current Chairman, Governing Council, Bayero University, Kano, Prof. Michael Omolewa, president of the 32nd Session of UNESCO General Conference, respected communications specialist Dr. Yemi Farounbi, and Rogba Laluwoye, mni; a retired bureaucrat and former Permanent Secretary. We open the discourse today with an opinion by Prof. Ibrahim Gambari.
It is expected that these opinions would go a long way in encouraging proper periodic explanations of the need to re-engineer policies and plans of government in public interest and bring the citizenry closer to government. Specifically, we request that the relevant audience in tertiary institutions, including students and scholars of Political Science, Diplomacy, International Relations, Governance, Security Studies, History, Social Studies & Sciences and other related disciplines should join our social media networks to be able to benefit from refreshing debates and information. The first of such pieces is reproduced below:
VIOLENT CONFLICTS, CONFLICT RESOLUTION, & PEACEBUILDING: GLOBAL BEST PRACTICES AND NEW PERSPECTIVES ON FARMERS/HERDERS CLASHES IN NIGERIA: By Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, CFR
My basic premise and starting point in addressing the subject of this lecture is simple. The surest way to overcome the multi-faceted challenges especially the herdsmen and farmers clashes confronting us in Nigeria and thus promote strong, viable state in Africa, promote security in the continent and bring about sustainable development is to adopt and implement strategies to end violent conflicts, enhance human security and promote an inclusive political and socio-economic development and strong institutions. The security of a State and its peoples cannot be separated from the processes of development which they experience and the system of governance by which public affairs is administered. However, a cursory look at newspaper headlines and other news on global television screens, would suggest that the contemporary experience in Africa is one of perennial conflicts and wars; failed or failing states and national insecurity. Yet, starting with Nigeria’s own experience, there is a glimmer of hope that the negative trends can be reversed, especially if the African peoples take advantage of new opportunities for change, peace and security, and socio-economic development.
- Conceptual Framework
Ladies and gentlemen, as this presentation is taking place in an academic and intellectual community, it is perhaps useful to briefly touch upon some concepts which are relevant to the topic of my presentation today. Although, there have been broad consensus around definitions that have been achieved on each of these component elements of the lecture topic in recent years, nevertheless, they are not exhaustive. Nigeria has experienced different types of conflicts, but perhaps most worrisome about these conflicts is the ethno-religious dimension and violent nature of these conflicts. As a result of such conflicts, women have always been the most vulnerable and as such they make up a large percentage as victims of conflict. John Galtung (1969) distinguished “direct, personal or institutionalized violence” and “structural violence” as economic exploitation and/or political repression. According to the United Nations, it is estimated that 80 percent of the world’s internally displaced persons and refugees are women and children (UN Security Council Report, 2015). In Nigeria alone, the Internally Displaced Monitoring Center in December 2015, estimated that of the 2,152,000 internally displaced people 53% of them are women.
Over the past decade, there has been a dramatic explosion of violent conflicts associated with the deteriorating relationship between farmers and herders, cattle rustling and rural banditry in Nigeria. There is also limited knowledge about who the perpetrators are and their motives. We need to get to the bottom of who is doing what to who and why? What is clear, however, is that the violent conflicts in Nigeria have resulted to destabilization and dislocation of the populace. Series of regional, ethnic, political and religious conflicts have been experienced in different parts of the country and together they have led to the loss of many lives and many cases of internally displaced persons. All of these violent conflicts have contributed in no small measure to the poor state of Nigeria. Each of the conflicts leads to wanton loss of human lives and property as well as human displacement (Nnoli, 2003; IPCR, 2003). Both family and community lives are disrupted and destroyed.
They particularly undermine family systems through the deliberate targeting of women and the recruitment of children to join in carrying out explosives and the current herdsmen and farmers violence. The loss of livelihoods, due in part to the destruction of infrastructure and natural resources, and lack of employment opportunities coincides with a weakened social safety net and the capacity of the state to provide services, such as health and education (Albert, 2012). The experience so far in Nigeria since the transition to democracy in 1999 shows that violent conflict impacts negatively on the rule of law, state capacity, and democratic political processes.
Experiencing violent conflict can be extremely traumatic especially to the vulnerable groups like children and women. Those that are residents in communities experiencing violent conflicts suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome, which contributes to poor mental and physical health, reduced quality of life, and in some cases, have negative effects and greater difficulties in work, education and family life and increased violent behavior. There are always the feelings of humiliation and betrayal, and the desire for revenge, can also perpetuate a cycle of violence in which ‘underlings’ rise to power, engage in extreme acts, inflicting indignities on those who had done the same to them. Particular attention must be paid to addressing the causes of violent conflicts. The prevention of conflict is far better and cheaper than the consequences of violence. And as the saying goes prevention is better than cure.
Meanwhile, the importance of conflict resolution and peacebuilding for the individual and society in general cannot be overemphasized. Ambassador Eloho Otobo published a book titled “Consolidating Peace in Africa: The Role of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission”. In reviewing the book at its launch in Lagos on, 16th September 2015, Oseloka Obaze pointed out that “peacebuilding is the direct result of UN’s unending search for credible alternative ways of delivering sustainable peace dividends to our global community”. The concept of peacebuilding was first introduced in 1992 when UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali launched the “Agenda for Peace” in which he laid out a Post-Cold War Agenda and argued that there can be no development without peace and emphasized the need for preventative diplomacy and conflict resolution. He followed that in 1994 with “Agenda for Development”, wherein he further argued that there can be no durable peace without sustainable development.
Peacebuilding gained institutional expression through the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission in 2005. It is based on the understanding that peacebuilding involves a range of measures targeted to reduce the risk of relapsing into conflict by strengthening national capacity at all levels for conflict management, and to lay the foundations for sustainable peace and development. Peacebuilding is seen as a broad policy framework that enhances synergy among the related efforts of conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping, recovery and development, as part of a collective and sustained effort to build lasting peace. Peacebuilding emphasizes local ownership, civil society engagement and community buy-in. An effective peacebuilding strategy is one that is not only holistic but carefully targeted in addressing structural causes of conflicts and fragility which includes the following;
(i) Widespread conditions of conflict; poverty, social inequality and injustices, unemployment and ignorance leading to breeding grounds for terrorist recruits.
(ii) Endemic corruption, weak State institutions and stagnated socio-economic development.
(iii) Existence of smuggling networks and sundry trans-national crimes which provides financial support for the activities of terrorist groups.
(iv) Movement of illegal/economic migrants susceptible to crime within the West African sub-region and beyond in search of greener pastures.
(v) The problem of huge youth unemployment. This is indeed, a serious threat to peace and security especially in a country like Nigeria where 62% of population is under 24 and median age is 18.2years.
III. Lessons Learned and Global Best Practices in Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding
May I at this juncture, share my thoughts on the broad lessons learned and global best practices in conflict resolution and peacebuilding. There are, in my view, nine major issues that are of critical importance in this regard. First, is that conflict resolution efforts and peace-making requires peacemakers at local, national, global levels. Second, it is important that peacemakers must embrace the challenge of maintaining contact and credibility with major parties of a conflict in order to have a good chance of resolving them. In this regard, I wish to recall the rather hot exchange with the then Ambassador/Permanent Representatives of the United States of America to the UN who castigated me on the floor of the United Nations Security Council (when I returned from a visit to Lebanon in my capacity as Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs) for daring to speak with Hezbollah which was considered by the USA as a terrorist organization. My response was that you cannot seek to change the behaviours of a party to a conflict if you do not talk to them – however distasteful you may find their positions or actions. Moreover, the spoilers or enemy of today may become the partner of tomorrow. In this regard, I recalled to Ambassador Bolton that one of his predecessors, Andrew Young, was dismissed by President Carter for daring to meet with the President of PLO, Yasser Arafat – and yet PLO became an important US ally for peace in the Middle East. The UN is uniquely placed to dialogue with difficult regimes or pariah States.
More particularly in Darfur, progress was possible only by carrying along both the Government and the armed movements. Similarly, as SRSG and head of UNAMA in Angola, it was imperative to engage the MPLA Government and Savimbi’s UNITA. Third, Peace Operations especially conflict resolution must be conducted in tandem with peacebuilding. One cannot wait till peace has broken out throughout a conflict area such as Darfur, before we pursue reconstruction and development issues. On the contrary, there is a real need to demonstrate to those communities and areas where fighting has stopped that there are peace dividends, and this may have positive spill-over effects in other areas where conflict continues. There is also a growing recognition that the entire UN system has to be mobilised to promote peace in conflict affected areas and regime.
Fourth, justice is an imperative on the pathway to making peace. As a major instrument for promoting justice, the International Criminal Court (ICC) was not there before and it has so far tended to concentrate on indicting sitting African leaders. Nonetheless, the Court – as a new invention – is a good one because it addresses the issue of impunity. You cannot have peace if there is no justice, and if people don’t feel a sense of closure, a feeling that those who are guilty of or accused of egregious violations of human rights are brought to justice. So you have the ICC pursuing that track. At the same time, if you are going to resolve a conflict, and one of the parties to the conflict may be, as in the case of Darfur, an indictee of the ICC, how do you engage with an indictee of the ICC who is part of the solution to the conflict, and also part of the peace process? It is extremely difficult to strike the right balance.
CHOOSING BETWEEN PEACE & JUSTICE
My own experience and position are that you do not have to choose between peace and justice, rather you can sequence them. You can phase them. For example, you can say, ‘At this point, what is the most important emphasis that will bring us closer to peace?’ The UN, on its part, has given strict instructions to its Envoys on what is and is not acceptable in terms of the necessity of dealing with an indicted war criminal. I just mentioned the example of Darfur, but you could say the same of Liberia and the case of Charles Taylor. There was a time that nobody wanted to touch him. But if he had not been taken out of Liberia by prior arrangement involving the African Union, ECOWAS and Nigeria, if that aspect of his past had not been sequenced to follow rather than to precede peace process, there may have been no peace, no election, and Liberia would not be where it is today.
Fifth, to address herdsmen and farmers conflicts or any form of conflict, the root causes have to be identified and effectively addressed. As observed earlier, the Darfur conflict was fundamentally about water; you have environmental degradation, rapid urbanization and increasing population going on all at once. The most important resource in Darfur is water, and there is not enough of it and the little that is available poorly distributed. This has brought tension between nomads and farmers, who tend to belong to different ethnic groups. Specifically, the nomadic peoples are primarily Arabs, and sedentary and farming peoples are non-Arabs, Africans. They are competing for the same scarce resources, and therefore prone to be in conflict over them. If you want to address the issue of conflict, and if you want to bring peace closer, you have to address root causes such as these. That is why, at one point, when I was Head of the African-UN mission, the UNAMID [African Union-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur], we organized a large International Conference on Water for Peace. We have seen land for peace famously proposed in the Middle-East, nowhere we see similar approaches taken with water resources in the Darfur region.
Sixth, the leadership of our country Nigeria must recognize that there can be no military solution to most conflicts, especially in the Post-Cold War era, where there have been far more intra-State rather than inter-State conflicts, where wars are asymmetrical and where civilian causalities are high, and displacements of peoples are cases in point. For example, at the height of the conflict in Darfur, there were an estimated 300,000 people dead and almost two million refugees and IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) – in a region whose total population was seven million. Therefore, mediation must be intensified to find political solutions for the conflicts. The central role of politics in driving peace processes should be fully recognized by those in authority. At the moment, the Nigeria military is overstretched, because they are involved into so many conflicts ordinarily they shouldn’t have been involved.
Seventh, is to seriously address the role of ‘spoilers’, which has become a lot more significant in many peace processes. There are different types of ‘spoilers’. You have those with limited objectives, some with broader national and international objectives, and those who really don’t want any peace at all. How do you deal with them? What are the sticks and carrots that you might use to reduce the potential influence of ‘spoilers’? I feel concerned that, in the case of Darfur again, which was my last experience in peace-making and peacekeeping, there were many important actors who played the role of ‘spoilers’ who were not compelled to join the peace process in a meaningful way. It is a problem that the international community has not reached consensus on how to deal with ‘spoilers’ in peace processes. The international community has to be willing to identify them, and once identified, to really take the necessary steps, for the sake of the people who are suffering. At this point there are cases in which, because of their affiliation, key groups with the ability to undermine peace are not engaged with effectively. That’s not good enough. More should be done – for the sake of peace, and in the case of Darfur, for the sake of the people who have suffered for so long.
THE ROLE OF NGOs
Eight, the role of NGOs and Civil Society groups in conflict resolution and peacebuilding is very imperative. For the most part, NGOs could be agents of change. Let me again use examples from Darfur. You have a situation where, at the height of the conflict in Darfur, there were over 300,000 people dead, but also 2 million were internally displaced – out of a total population of 7 million – in scores of IDP [internally displaced person] camps according to UN figures. The huge numbers of IDP’s are critically important for the role of NGOs. Although the peacekeepers had the role of facilitating the delivery of humanitarian assistance to those in need, they did not have the needed humanitarian materials. The NGOs and the humanitarian community as a whole were the ones that provided for the basic needs of the people in the camps. NGOs and some Western countries behind the NGOs spearheaded the delivery of food, clothing, education and health assistance that was vitally important.
Nevertheless, concerning the peace processes, the role of NGOs tend to be more complicated, because they often tend to become advocates for the armed movements. In effect, they take sides, so the UN or any Mediator can have very difficult relationships with the NGOs because the role of the mediation is to reconcile not take sides. However, it is impossible for the former not to have to deal with the latter. NGOs make hugely positive contributions in addressing the real needs of victims of violence and war. They are advocates for the weak and for those whose voice needs to be heard or heard more loudly.
Ninth and finally, I have observed from decades of peace-making efforts at the United Nations and with the African Union and presently the Common Wealth that in peacebuilding and conflict resolution, the parties are able to stand their respective grounds more strongly while also developing a common ground. As President Martti Ahtisaari puts it the most successful mediation and conflict resolutions are that promises a “better future for everyone” It is in this context that mediators can make their most valuable contribution by identifying, widening and consolidating the common ground. In so doing, they must build relationships of trust and confidence with the parties. Mediators must also be impartial, tough, humble but very patient. Nonetheless, the Chief Mediator and team should recognize his/her limitations and know when to give way for others to try if (a) the peace process comes to a dead end; (b) the trust and confidence of the parties and key interested outside actors have evaporated; and (c) the mediator becomes the issue rather than the focal point for moving forward the substance resolution of the conflict.
Being the first part of a public lecture delivered by Prof. (Amb) Ibrahim Gambari, CFR, OCRT, former Foreign Affairs Minister of Nigeria, former United Nations Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, current Chairman, Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy & Development, Abuja, Nigeria, & current Chairman, Governing Council, Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria.
Next: New Perspectives on Farmers/Herders Conflicts and the Search for Peaceful Resolution in Nigeria by Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, CFR.
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NEW PERSPECTIVES ON FARMERS/HERDERS & CONFLICTS AND THE SEARCH FOR PEACEFUL RESOLUTIONS IN NIGERIA.
Yesterday, we published the first of a two-part serial on the above captioned issue. Please find below the concluding part.
- Coming back to the pressing issue of Farmers/Herders Conflict and the imperative of a peaceful resolution, I would like to draw attention to the contents of a memorandum prepared by the Nigerian Working Group on Peacebuilding and Governance, of which I am a member. And by way of background and according to the memorandum, herders-farmers’ conflicts in Nigeria have grown, spread and intensified over the past decade and today poses a threat to national survival. Thousands of people have been killed, communities have been destroyed and so many farmers and pastoralists have lost their lives and property in an orgy of killings and destruction that is not only destroying livelihoods but also affecting national cohesion and food security. Each day, we witness more reprisal killings that are simply making the possibilities of peaceful resolution more difficult. Rural banditry is becoming the norm in the Nigerian hinterland and has been transformed into a vicious criminal activity. The result is that the scale of loss of both herds and human life has been escalating and the victims are on all sides – subsistence farmers, commercial farmers and pastoralists.The conflicts often have localised dynamics, but primarily involve Fulani pastoralists and local farming communities. Nonetheless, proffering solution to internecine crisis has become urgent
- Nigeria has a landmass of 98.3 million hectares, 82 million hectares of arable land of which about 34 million hectares are currently under cultivation. In crop farming, human beings only directly utilize about a quarter of the total biomass. The other three quarters is in the form of crop residue and low quality crop, which is not directly useful to people. It is this residue that cattle (ruminants) convert into meat and milk. In addition to this, cattle also utilize grasses on fallow lands, non-arable poor quality lands, open ranges and fadama in the same manner. Pastoralists move their animals to these locations to access these opportunities. This system of production is breaking down today as violent conflicts between pastoralists and farmers have arisen and created a major national crisis.
- The Nigeria’s population has grown from 33 million in 1950 to about 192.3 million today. The United Nations recently projected more growth in terms of population in the coming years, 364 million in 2030 and 480 million in 2050 respectively. This phenomenal increase of the population has put enormous pressure on land and water resources used by farmers and pastoralists. Specifically, the demographic increase has led to an expansion in cultivated farmland and a reduction in available grazing land for pastoralists that is characterised by competition over dwindling resources. In the far North, the impact of desertification as well as the crisis of energy, which has resulted in deforestation, coupled with climatic uncertainty and lower rainfall have made it more difficult to sustain increasing populations, pushing many farmers and pastoralists with livestock Southwards. This has happened gradually over a period of decades – with an apparent increase over the past decade – and has added to pressure on land and water in central and Southern Nigeria.
- One of the outcomes of this process has been the blockage of transhumance routes and loss of grazing land to agricultural expansion and the increased southward movement of pastoralists has led to increased conflict with local communities. This is particularly the case in the Middle Belt – notably in Plateau, Kaduna, Niger, Nassarawa, Benue, Taraba, and Adamawa States.
- As violence between herdsmen and farmers has grown and developed into criminality and rural banditry, popular narratives creating meaning, context and (mis) understandings have been emerging. The narratives emerging on rural banditry in the media and in popular discourse are becoming part of the drivers for expanding conflicts in the country. The protagonists in this saga are often presented as being nomadic Fulani cattle herders, who are mostly Muslims, and sedentary farmer communities of several other ethnic extractions, who are often, but not always non-Muslims. These two distinct groups are usually depicted as perpetrators and victims, respectively. Perspectives of the social, religious and ethnic characteristics of these rural communities are framed into expansive essentialist discourses that actively breed and sustain suspicion and distrust. The result is negative stereotyping between “the one” and “the other” that lead further to ethnic and religious bigotry which fuels the hate process, culminating in further chains of attacks and counter or revenge attacks being exchanged between these different groups.
- The following are some recommendations aimed at addressing the conflict;
(a) Grazing Reserves as Possible Solution
- Nigeria urgently needs to find pathways to get out of the crisis and one approach may be the development of grazing reserves for pastoralists.The establishment of grazing reserves provides the opportunity for practicing a more limited form of pastoralism and is therefore a pathway towards a more settled form of animal husbandry. Grazing reserves are areas of land demarcated, set aside and reserved for exclusive or semi-exclusive use by pastoralists. Currently, Nigeria has a total of 417 grazing reserves all over the country, out of which only about 113 have been gazetted. On the other hand, there are many problems facing the implementation of the provisions of the 1965 Grazing Reserve Law and the management of the established grazing reserves. First, most of the grazing reserves were established by the then Northern Regional Government. Since the 1970’s subsequent military and civilian governments have in effect abandoned the policy of establishing and developing grazing reserves. Secondly, State governments have not been diligent in sustaining previous policies and have not surveyed and gazetted most of the designated grazing reserves. Indeed, only 113 (about 27%) of the 417 proposed grazing reserves have been gazetted.It is important to focus on the development of grazing reserves as part of the solution.
25.In addressing the problem of migration. Movement of illegal/economic migrants susceptible to crime within the West African sub-region and beyond in search of greener pastures must be addressed. It is very vital because, migration is the channel that links pastoralists and farmers to potential and real conflicts.
(b) Developing a Comprehensive Policy Framework
- Developing a Comprehensive Policy Framework:Livestock production in Nigeria is in existential crisis and the country lacks a cohesive and comprehensive policy framework for livestock development and regulation in Nigeria. The defunct Northern Grazing Reserve Law has not been updated, the Land Use Act of 1978 is dysfunctional, emerging state grazing reserve laws, the ECOWAS Transhumance Protocol and other related international instruments have to be updated and streamlined.
- It is important therefore to develop a plan for a transitional period during which new systems would be put in place. Pastoralism is not sustainable in Nigeria over the long term due to high population growth rate, expansion of farming and loss of pasture and cattle routes. At the same time, pastoralism cannot end of be prohibited in the short term as there are strong cultural and political economy reasons for its existence.
Modernisation of Livestock; Nigeria has one of the lowest productivity levels of livestock in the world. It is for this reason that Nigeria imports very large quantities of milk, fish and chicken. The Nigerian herd requires sustained efforts at quality development based on a modernisation strategy that would transform the industry and move the country towards the objective of self-reliance.
(c) Establishing Conflict Management Institutions
- Establishing such institutions should be established more especially across Sub-Saharan African countries where farmers-herders conflicts are prevalent. Information and best practices should be shared among a major pool of trained indigenous mediators within countries bedeviled with farmers-herders clashes. This is in order to strengthen conflict mediation, resolution, reconciliation and peacebuilding mechanisms: this should be done at state and local government levels, and also within rural communities particularly in areas that have been most affected by farmers-herders conflicts. This also demands investment in education. Many universities in Nigeria are now introducing the study of ‘conflict management’ in their post-graduate programs. This is a welcome development that should be encouraged through provision of scholarships to student and grants to research in peace studies.
(d)Adoption of New Media Code
- There is need for the development of a media code to be used in sensitizing the media on the relevant international standards on reporting issues of conflict and banditry. This process should involve conflict sensitivity and safety training and it should be based on very strict journalistic standards. Appropriate laws and regulations should be developed at both the federal and state levels towards ensuring that the margin of what is seen, as “free speech” in the media will be effectively regulated.
- Cattle routes should be restored and significant investment made in restoring traditional conflict resolution mechanisms. As massive corruption has accompanied the increased presence of the police and courts in matters affecting farmers and herders, there should be advocacy and administrative guidance to return to traditional methods of conflict resolution. There should be capacity development of farmers and herders associations so that they play a more positive role in the process.
(e)New Initiatives Involving the Military and Security Agencies
- In addition to the search for improving security in the zone through the use of security forces and mobilizing the civil population, some policy decisions are required. The military should be encouraged to pursue the path of ranching as it has already decided to. The Sambisa Grazing Reserve (4800 ha) is an ideal and symbolic place to take-off by establishing a ranch run by the military. It would significantly improve the security situation in the zone and encourage cooperation between pastoralists and the military. In the North West, the military should also be encouraged to create ranches in the GidanJaja Grazing Reserve (565,000 ha) for the same purpose of improving security and cooperation with pastoralists.
(f) Partnerships and Cooperation among Stakeholders
- There is need for partnership and cooperation among all the major stakeholders in other to address the menace of farmers/herders conflicts. For this singular goal to be achieved, everyone needs to do their part: governments, the private sector, civil society and indeed the general public. There should also be inter-connectedness among the ‘conflict management agencies’ across region, continent and the world. Regional, continental governmental organizations such as ECOWAS and AU, and UN should be the platform of collaboration among the agencies including non-governmental organizations that are also engage in conflict management. Change starts with you. Every one of us—even the most indifferent, laziest person among us—is part of the solution.
- Transitional Arrangements in Addressing Farmers-Herders Conflicts in Nigeria
- Piecemeal of sectorial approach to livestock development will not suffice. A new policy framework should be developed that is both comprehensive and must be mutually beneficial to pastoralists and farmers. Any policy that does not take into consideration the welfare of both sides will most likely fail or meet resistance by either side. An inter-ministerial committee should be constituted with experts and stakeholder membership to draw up the framework. There must be a consultative process that listens to the concerns of all stakeholders in developing the new framework so that the outcome would have national ownership.
- In this regard, we suggested that there should be arrangements to address this increasingly deadly conflict. And experts should be assembled to map out the duration, strategy and timelines for the transition plan. As there is no miracle model for solving the problems, the plan should simultaneously pursue a number of models including:
i.Ranching can be pursued as one of the possible models in areas with lower population densities in the North East (Sambisa Game Reserve in Borno State) and North West (GidanJaja Grazing Reserve in Zamfara State);
ii.Semi-intensive systems of animal husbandry should be pursued accompanied with requisite investment in infrastructure, training, extension, marketing and animal health service delivery in conjuncture with the private sector;
iii.The traditional form of pastoralism should continue for a period to be agreed upon with some improvements (in the form of coordinated mobility between wet and dry season grazing areas and effective management of farmers and pastoralists relations);
iv.Use of and development of grazing reserves to target pastoralists with large stocks where skills for pasture production, large milk production, etc can be promoted.
v.Development of integrated crop-livestock systems with farmers and pastoralists being encouraged to keep some animals in their farms.
vi.In order to meet the feeding needs of herds, alternative low water and drought resistant grasses should be produced, in response to the impact of desertification on fodder production.
- The programme for the country’s transition to modern forms of animal husbandry must be accelerated and funded. The national stock would require rapid improvement and modernisation to meet market demands for meat, milk, hides and other products from the industry:
i.Commercial ranches should be established in some of the sparsely populated zones in the North East and North West;
ii.The business community should be encouraged through policy measures to invest in the establishment of modern dairy farms;
iii.Sensitisationprogrammes should be undertaken on the values of livestock improvement and breeding centres for the production of quality heifers to improve pastoral stock should be developed all over the country.
iv.Efforts should be made towards modelling best practices of pastoral-farmer relations as evident in countries such as Chad, Ethiopia and Niger, where the existence of institutionalised and functional mechanisms for pre-empting and resolving conflicts between farmers and pastoralists enable them to live in peace.
- Intensive capacity building is required in promoting and advocating for climate smart approaches to animal husbandry including the prevention of overgrazing, promoting integration of grazing and manure provision for farms and coordinated movement between ecological zones in the dry and wet seasons.
- A harmonization of relevant laws and policies that governs grazing reserves. Specifically, the 1965 Grazing Reserve Law can be revived based on section 315 of the 1999 constitution in the 19 Northern States. This should be complemented with a national review and protection of traditional stock routes. In addition to the laws, consultative process between farming and pastoral communities is required to review the effect of statutes and regulations on routine practices of animal husbandry.
vii.Meanwhile,the Katsina State Government has just launched a digital tracking system for cattle in the State. It involves inserting microchips in the animals’ skin and tracking them with mobile phones. The use of such technologies could help address the problem of cattle rustling and violence that have become so rampant. Such initiatives should be supported.
- The rapid increase in the farmers-herders conflicts represents a danger and real threat to the survival of Nigeria. Hence, as a problem at the heart of our country, it requires collective and decisive action to deal with. It requires collaboration among different stakeholders across Sub-Saharan Africaand must involve everyone. It also requires a peacebuilding approach for three main reasons; first at a basic level, conflict causes significant devastation and inflicts much suffering, and from both purely humanitarian perspective, as well as demonstration of our common humanity, it is a decent thing to help people who are suffering. But at a more fundamental level, conflict can be contagious, and if we fail to put out the fire in our neighbours’s house, the risks are high that it could spread to ours. And third, peacebuilding efforts are aimed at addressing the root causes of conflicts such that peace endures.
- We must also revisit the traditional conflict resolution mechanism in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. One of the most important dimensions of the growing conflicts between pastoralists and farmers has been the breakdown of traditional conflict resolution mechanisms. In the past, when conflicts arise, they were settled by village heads and ardos, Fulani community leaders and if the need for payment of compensation arises, there were traditional systems and knowledge of how to assess damage done and the amount necessary to compensate for the damage and not profiteering. What we see today as a breakdown of traditional authority in the context of conflict management is a consequence of the takeover of their powers by the state at the federal, state and local government levels, through the adhoc measures that are often time wasting and whose recommendations are not implemented.
- In conclusion, the Preamble of the Charter of the United Nations started with the words: “We the peoples”. It is a recognition that the “raison d’être” of the world body, i.e. the prevention and resolution of wars and conflict, is far too important to be left to countries and their government alone. Indeed, as the link between peace and justice has grown in importance; as addressing the root causes of conflicts become imperative and as peace building, recovery and reconstruction become part and parcel of consolidating peace, individuals and institutions such as yours must redouble efforts towards building and enhancing the mechanisms for peaceful resolution of wars and violent conflicts including farmers-herders conflicts.
- The Construction of Positive Narratives: The atmosphere between farming and pastoral communities is extremely bitter and negative. Support should be provided for creative writers in Nollywood, Kannywood, radio and television to create new narratives showing how the interaction between the two groups could be peaceful and mutually beneficial. Above all, the National Orientation Agency (NOA), as an institution with presence across the 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the country, should provide these critical services.
- As such, Kofi Annan noted that “Human security encompasses human rights, good governance, access to education and healthcare and ensuring that each individual has opportunities and choices to fulfill his or her own potential. Every step in this direction is also a step towards reducing poverty, achieving economic growth and preventing conflict. Freedom from want, freedom from fear and freedom of future generations to inherit a healthy natural environment-these are the interrelated building blocks of conflict resolution and peacebuilding.
I thank you for listening.
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