On Tuesday May 10, 2016, the Senate Conference Hall 022, venue of the public hearing on a motion, “Tackling the perennial conflicts between farmers and Cattle Herdsmen,” was filled to the brim and those not lucky enough to get seats had to make do with standing to take part in the public hearing.
Education as a Vaccine (EVA) was at the public hearing with Pastoralists Resolve (PARE), and Mercy Corps. We have seen in communities where we work that conflicts erode investment; EVA as an organization understands that we can’t just sit and do nothing. In improving community resilience, EVA’s work in conflict resolution has been on building capacity to prevent and reduce the chances of conflict escalating to violence in communities where we work.
The Senate Leader, Ali Ndume represented the Senate President Bukola Saraki, to declare the hearing open. Ndume mentioned that love lost between farmers and pastoralists has been responsible for clashes across the country. Acknowledging the role of the Federal Government in tackling the incessant clashes, Ndume said it could only be realized if there was adequate laws that support government efforts. “We were quite aware of President Buhari’s effort at ending farmers and Herdsmen’s Conflict across the country, but this can be realized with bills from the executive which the Senate will not waste time to pass into law.”
Senator Abdullahi Adamu, Chairman, Joint Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and National Security and Intelligence in his remarks said clashes between farmers and pastoralists is not new. “What is new is the sophisticated weapon that is used by both sides.” He stressed further that grazing reserves has been take up due to increase in population and has therefore bring competition between the two groups.
EVA’s submission at the public hearing can be fully accessed here https://www.evanigeria.org/wp/download/memorandum-on-the-motion-on-tackling-of-the-perennial-conflicts-between-farmers-and-cattle-herdsmen/
Below are summary of points made at the hearing:
FEDERAL MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT – Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lopobiri.
- Pastoralists involved in killings and destruction of property in different communities are not Fulani. Some of the pastoralists arrested do not speak any Nigerian language which clearly underscores that it is a regional conflict.
- It is not a problem between pastoralists and farmers. Fulani people in our own opinion are very peaceful. We believe that most of those who are involved in the clashes could be affiliated to terror organizations outside the shores of the country.
- The best way to solve this problem will be the creation of ranches. If we create ranches, we will provide what the Fulani man is looking for. Nine states have donated 5,000 hectares each to the federal government to start recreation of ranches.
- Grass seedlings will be imported to support establishment of ranches and simultaneously import semen to birth more calves as the current reed of cattles are not able to produce the require quantity of milk consumed in the country. By establishing ranches, each cow will produce 30 litres of milk per day as against the average three litres they presently produce due to their movement from one location to the other in search of grazing.
- Urgent re-orientation of pastoralists to become more sedentary. Risk pastoralists face when moving around include kidnapping and killings which is very high. To avert this, creation of ranches with modern facilities within the ranches will stop the norm of moving cattles which adversely have negative effect on the value and productivity of the cow.
- To stop encroachment on farmlands, farmers are to grow special plants to act as a ruminant repellent ad serve as fence round the farmland.
CHIEF OF DEFENCE STAFF – Represented by Major General Edward Okechukwu Nze,
- The military’s immediate action to end the incessant clashes is the deployment of troops to hunt down marauders terrorising farming communities.
- The Nigerian military is collaborating with other security agencies to ensure security and order is being maintained in communities where these conflicts occurred. Plan to establish border outfit is underway; visit to interior part of the ad working with information made available to nip in the bud future occurrence. The institution’s long term action is to help in scanning and protecting ranches wherever they are established.
NATIONAL BOUNDARY COMMISSION
- The federal government was charged to recover grazing and stock routes that have been encroached on. More importantly, the commission implored the government to consider some of the agreements which Nigeria is a signatory to, such as the ECOWAS protocol on free movement which guarantees free movement in West Africa.
- On its long term approach, the commission suggested institutions like the judiciary ad security agencies be strengthened, advocated for more effective intelligence gathering system, transform grazing reserves into ranches to limit movement of cattle, integrate the pastoralists into society and economy by introducing cattle tax, and ensure pastoralists have national identity card
ELDER STATESMAN PROFESSOR JUBRIL AMINU
- The former Nigerian Ambassador to the United States of America opined that the Senate should take steps to control group of people threatening peace. “The Fulanis are not violent, it is not the nomadic Fulanis that perpetrate violence. Something should be done to people that are making the Fulanis look bad.”
National Human Rights Commission
- The commission recommends the federal government to investigate reported incident between farmers and pastoralists and apprehend all persons involved.
OHANEZE NDIBGO – Dr. Pade Njokwu,
- Umbrella body of Igbo indigenes recommends that pastoralists should be disarmed.
- The group restates its support for helping Fulani cattlemen to settle down somewhere but also want its communities protected from attack; it kicked against liberty of cattles to graze through farmlands.
MIYETTI ALLAH CATTLE THE ASSOCIATION OF CATTLE BREEDERS ASSOCIATION
- The association wants a Ministry for Livestock and development be established. It also ask it should be fully compensated for its losses during clashes with farmers as they are often ignored while attention has always been focused on the farmers.
- The association seeks the issue of climate change and migration be properly addressed.
NETWORK OF YOUNG FEMALE LEADERS OF ECOWAS COMMUNITY
- Interest of women and children be protected in time of conflicts as they are the most vulnerable.
ASSOCIATION OF ALL FARMERS
- The association called the federal government to remove barriers between farmers and pastoralists as the group has admitted the pastoralists to be part of its association.
TIV COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION
- The association expressed its dissatisfaction with the incessant clashes between farmers and pastoralist as they alleged to be the most affected.
- It said part of its land in six local government area of Benue State – Guma, Tarka, kwande, Gwer West, uruku and Logo, have been occupied by pastoralists.
- The association kicked against reserved routes but called for the establishment of ranches. It says “there are about 100,000 cattle in Benue State now. Creating reserves will allow pastoralists from all over Africa to Nigeria to graze. Cattle rearing is a private business thus land should not be taken from communities for commercial purposes.”