By Chidinma Ewunonu-Aluko
The Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER), on Tuesday called for the strengthening of security arrangements to stem the incessant clashes between herders and farmers in different parts of Nigeria, especially in the North.
Dr Hakeem Tijani, a Senior Research Fellow, Political and Governance Policy Department, NISER made the call in Ibadan at the NISER Research Seminar Series (NRSS) in Ibadan.
The seminar has the theme: “Strategies for resolving conflicts between farmers and herdsmen in Nigeria.“
Tijani said the strategy would require government and security agencies to sustain, improve early warning systems, maintain operational readiness of rural-based police, other security units and encourage communication and collaboration with local authorities.
He said there should be control of the circulation and possession of illicit firearms and ammunition, especially automatic rifles.
Tijani underscored the need for the country to establish and strengthen conflict mediation, resolution, reconciliation mechanism at state, local and community levels, especially in areas mostly affected by conflicts.
“There should be establishment of grazing reserves in consenting states, to minimise contacts, frictions between herders and farmers; this should be a temporary measure till ranching is established for the animals,” he said.
On the long term measure, Tijani urged the Federal and State governments to address environmental factors that aided herders’ migration to the South.
He said the measure required stepping up implementation of programmes under Green Wall initiative for Sahara and Sahel.
He recommended that Nigeria should work with Cameroon, Chad and Niger to regulate movements across borders, particularly cattle rustlers, armed herders and others identified as aggravating internal tension and insecurity in the country.
Tijani also called for the establishment of cattle ranches all over the country, using Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.
“It appears that what holds promise for sustainable peace between farming communities and pastoralists is the establishment of ranching.”
Earlier, the NISER Director-General, Dr Folarin Gbadebo-Smith, said the NRSS was part of NISER mandates to conduct research into the economic, social problems of the country.
He was represented by Prof. Sunday Odekunle, Head, Human Capital Department, NISER.
The NISER boss said the topic of the seminar was important, adding that it was critical to all arms of the government, nation and international communities.
He stressed the need to strategise, check the problems and proffer solutions to herders/farmers crisis.
“Both the herders and farmers are two economic groups within the same family, so they should not be fighting, thousands of lives have gone due to the crisis so there is urgent need to provide better strategies for the government.”
The Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Oka Obono of the Department of Sociology, University of Ibadan, said the herders/farmers crisis had in recent times threatened national unity.
“This is the kind of research professionals should be doing, I hope government adopts the recommended policies; I commend NISER for organising such,” Obono said. (NAN)