Herdsmen Aggression on Settled Farmers As a Threat to Agricultural Renaissance in Nigeria: Sifting the Conflicting Narratives

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 11:30
Oral Presentation
Adolphus NASWEM, Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Nigeria
Egri EJEMBI, Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Nigeria
Pastoral Fulani herdsmen account for the bulk of beef production in Nigeria. In the past, these herdsmen followed defined north-south routes as they moved their livestock in sync with the changes in the seasons. Clashes often occurred with sedentary crop farmers in the contest for resources in the communities along the routes which were officially gazetted. These were minor, and relationships between the herdsmen and crop farmers were generally cordial. Recently however these herdsmen have become so violent that their unprovoked attacks on unsuspecting farming communities all over Nigeria has earned them the position of the fourth deadliest terror group in the world. Their activities have sacked several farming communities from their ancestral farmlands, and added significantly to the pool of internally displaced persons. This has adversely affected the agricultural renaissance that is expected as a result of the renewed emphasis on agriculture occasioned by falling oil prices. Analyses of the problem dwell on climate change, 'development,' urbanization, cultural or political factors including the spillover of conflicts in neighbouring countries. This paper examines the various arguments and concludes that all the factors contribute to the problem, but the problem is much more complex especially given that the Fulani tribe are highly organized relatives in several countries in Africa, and that a significant proportion of the livestock involved are owned by powerful politically exposed persons. The paper recommends that the international community must get involved to provide neutral arbitrage and support the exercise of strong political leadership that employs effective confidence-building strategies to reassure farming communities who perceive the state as being sympathetic to the herdsmen. Herdsmen must also abandon the old tradition of transhumance and ranch their livestock in their indigenous states.