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THE CRISIS BETWEEN HERDSMEN AND FARMERS, IMPLICATIONS AND SECURITY CHALLENGES
- Background of the study
Nigeria’s arid North West is beset by violence between herders and farmers, which has been compounded by an explosion in criminal activity and infiltration by jihadist groups into the region. The last decade has seen thousands of people killed and hundreds of thousands displaced, with many fleeing into Niger Republic next door. Statelevel peace efforts with several armed factions have had some success, but these will not prove durable unless more actors lay down their weapons. To roll back the mayhem, federal and state authorities should focus on reducing tensions between herders and farmers, including by expediting implementation of the national livestock plan. They should also support dialogue between the Hausa and Fulani, the region’s two communities most closely tied to farming and herding, respectively. In addition, Abuja needs to improve security and law enforcement in the region in order to curb criminality and bolster its ability to protect citizens, as well as to step up efforts to address environmental and economic issues underlying the violence.
International Crisis Group
Africa Report N°288 18 May 2020
The causes of violence in the North West are complex and inter-related. At its root, the region’s security crisis derives from long-running competition over land and water resources between predominantly Fulani herders and mainly Hausa farmers, both of whom have over time mobilised armed groups (referred to by the authorities as “bandits” and “vigilantes”, respectively) for protection. Climate change-related environmental degradation and high population growth have intensified this struggle. Amid a boom in the trade of small arms and light weapons in the region, organised gangs operating from ungoverned forests have proliferated, engaging in cattle rustling, kidnapping for ransom and armed robbery, including of miners and traders in the largely unregulated gold mining sector, as well as pillage of communities. Having originated in Zamfara state, gang violence has since spread to five other nearby states, namely Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi and Niger, the last of which is in North Central Nigeria.
As security has deteriorated, the region has steadily come under the renewed influence of jihadist groups, which have sometimes attacked security forces. The spike in jihadist activity in the North West has raised fears that the region could soon become a land bridge connecting Islamic insurgencies in the central Sahel with the decade-old insurgency in the Lake Chad region of north-eastern Nigeria. Security sources point to a resurgence of the long-dormant Boko Haram splinter group, Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan (Group of Partisans for Muslims in Black Africa), better known as Ansaru, which was active in north-western Nigeria between 2011 and 2014. Elements of other Boko Haram offshoots, notably the Islamic State in West Africa Province, are arriving in the area. A poorly secured international boundary, meanwhile, enables the influx of arms and facilitates the movement of jihadists to and from the Sahel, where the Islamic State has been expanding its influence.
Violence has had a far-reaching humanitarian and economic impact on the region and created a domino effect of security problems. Over the last decade, more than 8,000 people have been killed – mainly in Zamfara state – with over 200,000 internally displaced and about 60,000 fleeing into Niger Republic. Livestock and crops have been decimated, further depressing human livelihood indices that were already
It is a truism that conflict occurs whenever disagreements exist in a social situation over issues of substance or whenever emotional antagonisms create frictions between individuals or groups (Okoro, 2018). The issues of substance may include resources such as land, water, trees, crops, crude oil, diamond, gold, reserves and rights – grazing rights, farming rights and hunting rights. However, most conflicts emanating from the above itemized issues are called resource conflicts. Blench (1996) asserted that resource conflicts can be classified into two, namely point resources including mines, farms and reserves and eco-zonal conflicts including water, grazing and hunting rights. Resource conflict is not unusual and perhaps not unnatural in human ecosystems. Conflict per se, is not bad: it is perhaps a necessity in the evolution and development of human organizations. But when conflicts degenerate to violent and destructive clashes, they become not only unhealthy but also counter-productive and progress-threatening. It is reported that 63 percent of total SubSaharan population live in rural areas in contrast with EU population where 74 per cent of all her citizens live in urban areas and 26 per cent in the countryside. The report further stressed that in overall, there are 854 Million people living in Sub-Saharan Africa, compared to 502 million in the European Union (globalgrowing.org, 2018). However, majority of these population of Africans who live in the rural areas are usually among the most vulnerable and insecure in terms of poverty, health, food security, and economic losses owing to resource conflicts. This is because, the eyes of the central governments are usually far from them, and many of their crisis are never reported. As Okoro, (2018) put it, struggle for survival and protection of economic livelihood (including, farmlands, crops and cattle) appears to precipitate conflict between herdsmen and farmers across many communities in Nigeria. And most times the attacks and counter attacks between these vulnerable groups in the rural areas are precipitated by government inactions. The people take law into their hands because they feel they are abandoned by the governments, and some of them even migrate to the urban areas abandoning their farmlands, just to secure lives.
1.2 Statement of the problem
The Fulani cattle herdsmen have identified conflicts arising from land use as the “most important” problem they face in their occupation (Van’tHooft, Millar & Django, 2005). During the peak of rainy season, characterized by cattle-breeding, more milk production and shorter grazing hours, cattle herding coincides significantly with arable crop production emanating in herdsmen-farmers conflict. The resultant increase in competition for arable land has often times led to serious manifestation of hostilities and social friction among the two user-groups in many parts of Nigeria. The conflicts have not only heightened the level of insecurity, but have also demonstrated high potential to exacerbate the food crisis in Nigeria and other affected countries due to loss of farmer lives, animals, crops and valuable properties (Cotula, Toulmin & Hesse, 2004).
This conflict is believed to have existed since the beginning of agriculture and either increased or decreased in intensity or frequency depending on economic, environmental and other factors (Aliyu, 2015). Idowu (2017) submits that the violence between herdsmen and farmers has displaced more than 100,000 people in Benue and Enugu States and left them under the care of relatives or in makeshift Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps while many are still struggling to rebuild their lives. The Global Terrorism Index (GTI) recently placed the Nigeria’s Fulani herdsmen as the world’s fourth deadliest militant group for having accounted for about 1,229 deaths in 2014. Amnesty International (as published on New Telegraph) on January
29th 2018 asserted that Fulani Herdsmen have killed 168 people in January, 2018 alone. In their words, “The Nigerian authorities’ response to communal violence is totally inadequate, too slow and ineffective, and in some cases unlawful. Clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Adamawa, Benue, Taraba, Ondo and Kaduna have resulted in 168 deaths in January 2018 alone. Hundreds of people lost their lives in 2017, and the government is still not doing enough to protect communities from these violent clashes. For instance, 549 deaths were recorded across 14 states while thousands were displaced in 2017. These 549 deaths and thousands that were displaced as a result of clashes between nomadic herdsmen and local farmers were recorded across Enugu, Benue, Taraba, Zamfara, Kaduna, Plateau, Nasarawa, Niger, Plateau, Cross Rivers, Adamawa, Katsina,
Delta and Ekiti states, in 2017”.
However, before this time, Taiwo (2010) averred that armed conflict between herdsmen and their host communities had been reported to have taken place in over 20 villages in Nigeria, including, Ago Nla, Ago Kekere, Idi Ope Kekere, Olukore, Olokuta, Apena, Jaramosan, Akeeran, Alagigo, Aaaro, Temidire, Iya Ibadan, Ideto, Apapa, Akele, Agwo, Bodija, Olufayo, Oko Teku, Moniya, Oke Ogun, Shaki, Egbedore. Ilobu, Efon Alaye, Alu, and Iya moye. Also, the study carried out by Sulaiman and Ja’ afar to ascertain the economic effects of this type of conflict in Bauchi state from 2003 to 2007 discovered that: Livestock that were lost through the farmers-pastoralists conflict included 34 cattle and 11 sheep/goats, valued about 1.8 million Naira and N66, 000.00 for cattle and sheep/goat, respectively. Six persons lost their lives during the period with anticipated economic contribution valued at N2, 844,000.00. The number of persons injured in the farmerpastoralists conflict as revealed by the study was 45 among whom 15 persons were incapacitated that they could not perform their economic activities during the period of treatment. The cost implication due to the body injuries of those affected in this respect was about N2.64 million. In addition, a research carried out on the causes and effects of the perennial clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria by Mercy Corps between 2013 and 2016, funded by the British Department for International Development (DFID) reviewed that the conflict is costing Nigeria at least $14 billion in potential revenues annually. Meanwhile, the usual resultant effects of the conflict are loss of lives, crops, destruction of houses, displacement of persons, decline in income, distrust; as well as threat to food and national security.
1.3 Objectives of the study
1. Ascertain the prevalence of Herdsmen-farmers conflict in Nigeria
2. Ascertain the courses of herdsmen-farmers conflict in Nigeria
3. Examine the effects of Herdsmen-farmers conflict on socio-economic development in Nigeria.
1.4 Research Questions
Following the above objectives, the research questions include:
1. How often is the herdsmen-farmers conflict occurring in Nigeria?
2. What are the courses of herdsmen-farmers conflict in Nigeria?
3. What are the effects of herdsmen-farmers conflict on socio-economic development in Nigeria?
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