CSO calls for caution on farmers/herdsmen conflict

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Herdsmen

By Angela Atabo/Katura Yashim

Search for Common Ground, a Civil Society Organisation (CSO) has called on Nigerians not to exaggerate the farmers and herdsmen conflict across the country.

Ms Imaobong Akpan, the Design, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Manager of the CSO, made the call at the group’s Conflict Prevention and Resolution Forum for Researchers on farmers-herdsmen issues in Nigeria.

Akpan said on Monday that one of the things discovered by the group was that the narratives around the conflict always portrayed the farmers as the victims.

She said that most times, nobody really heard the narratives from the herdsmen, who also suffer the brunt of the conflict, adding that the forum sought to brainstorm to proffer solutions to the issues.

“One of the salient things we are hoping this brings out is to balance the story between the challenges the farmers face as well as the challenges the herdsmen face.

“This is because if we cannot look at both sides of the equation, we might not be able to come to a practical solution that meets the needs of both sides.

“The policy makers and Nigerians generally need to be open-minded towards the herdsmen-farmers conflict; we hear a lot of stories and we need to be careful where these stories are coming from.

“We need to be careful of what we believe because a lot of the things we hear are exaggerated and not always the truth; there are always two sides or more to a story.

“So, it will be nice to explore other angles of the story and not just take hook, line and sinker what is said about the crisis,’’ she said.

Akpan said that one of the challenges that came out from the field on the crisis was the issue of indigene and settlers.

She said that in a community where herdsmen were settlers, the people always said “they do not belong to that community’’, but there were policies that gave some rights to settlers.

Akpan urged Nigerians to proffer opinions that would deal with the conflict, saying “it is not enough for us to have conversations; if there are no strong policies implemented, this crisis will not cease’’.

The Conflict Analyst of the organisation, Ms Olubukola Ademola-Adelehin, said that the group had worked on issues of conflict in Nigeria for many years and had discovered that there was no one-way solution to the crisis.

Ademola-Adelehin said that establishment of nationwide grazing fields was debated upon as the solution, adding that there was need to explore other options.

“My advice is that there is a need for policy makers to reach out to practitioners working with farmers and herders on the field.

“They should also reach out to the academia that have done many years of research on how this issue can be tackled.

“This is to dissect this problem from different angles and look at what will be appropriate for all.

“I don’t see Nigeria having one set of resolutions, because even the communities where we are having farmers-herdsmen crisis don’t have the same reality.’’

She said that the crisis was being experienced Delta, Oyo, Ogun, Ekiti, states in the Middle Belt and in the North-West.

Ademola-Adelehin added that Nigeria could not do a “fix-it-all’’ approach but should explore different ways to settle the issue.


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