BY MAIRIGA Juliana, Minna
Former Military Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar has recalled loss of agricultural goods and services due to incessant clashes between Nigerian farmers and Fulani herdsmen, particularly in Benue, Plateau, Kaduna and Nasarawa states in the past one year to the tune of $13.7 billion.
“During the clashes, about 2, 500 lives were lost while about 62, 000 families were displaced in the four states”, General Abdulsalami said while addressing the opening of a one-day forum on Farmers-Herder relations in Nigeria which took place at Maizube Farm, along Minna-Bida road.
“With respect to economic impact, the federal government loses $13.7 billion annually as a result of farmer/herder conflicts in Benue, Kaduna, Nasarawa and Plateau states. Averagely, these four states lost up to half (47%) of their internally generated revenue”, he said.
The former Military Head of State further explained that, “The hidden causes of the conflicts on every sphere of our national life are enormous and it has been estimated that, about 2, 500 persons were killed nationwide as a result of the clashes in 2016 alone”.
It was therefore imperative for all the three tiers of governments to guarantee security of lives and properties of Nigerians by putting in place appropriate policies and responses that would guard against future reoccurrence of farmers/herders clash across the country, he said.
General Abdulsalam expressed regrets that recent crises in Plateau, Benue and other states particularly in the north central region, leading to loss of lives, properties, displacement of persons and families, caused untold hardships to communities and individuals affected.
He therefore said, “This a wakeup call to all relevant stakeholders, states and federal government, legislatures, traditional rulers, civil society organizations, security agencies and communities on the need to address these deadly conflicts that are expanding gradually to other states in the federation”
“The current situation is threatening the fragile peace of the nation”, the former President said, arguing however that, farmers and herders have had beneficial and cordial relationship with minimal conflicts in the past and also had mechanisms of resolving them without resorting to destructive acts of violence against one another.
General Abdulsalam however regretted that it is surprising that the mutual trust between the two groups no longer exist, saying,
“There is a breakdown of communal trust, conflict resolution mechanisms thereby the conflicts have become deadly”.
He commended the, Search for Common Ground’ for its initiatives in collaborating with the, General Abdulsalami Abubakar Institute for Peace and Sustainable Development Studies, Minna while expressing optimism that the forum would recommend sustainable solutions to bringing permanent solution to farmers/herders clashes in the country.
Project analyst, Search for Common Ground, Mr. Bukola Adeleye had earlier traced the cause (s) of farmers/herders clashes in Nigeria to what he termed, struggle for control of arable land and water in the affected areas.
Mr. Adeyeye who ruled out ethno-religious undertone to the incessant Fulani herdsmen and farmers clashes in Nigeria also expressed optimisms that there will always be a way out to build lasting peace among the two parties.