The Centre for Democracy and Development on Thursday, December 3, said it will provide necessary technical assistance needed to curb the protracted conflict between herders and farmers across some states in Nigeria.
The Centre’s Principal Program Officer, Shamsudeen Yusuf, while speaking at State-level Stakeholders’ Meeting on the Implementation of the National Livestock Plan (NLTP) in Lafia, Nasarawa State said CDD would stop at nothing to provide all technical assistance needed to ensure peace between the farmers, herders and residents of affected communities in the North Central States.
At the meeting organised in partnership with the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Yusuf, representing the Director of CDD said the Centre as a development partner decided to bring major stakeholders together to find ways to resolve conflicts in three states – Benue, Nasarawa and Plateau.
He said that the meeting will serve as an avenue for the stakeholders to brainstorm on strategic steps to take to foster peaceful co-existence between herders and farmers in the states.
According to Yusuf, the objective of the state-level stakeholders’ meeting is to support the implementation of NLTP in states affected by the conflict and bring about sustainable peace in these areas.
In his virtual address, the Special Adviser to the President on Agriculture and the National Coordinator of the NLTP, Andrew Kwasari, said farmers’/ herders’ conflict have evolved from just mere disputes and can be attributed to climate change, ideals, visions, migrations and among others.
He also raised the need for traditional and religious leaders to be part of the peacebuilding process as they are the ones who know and interact more with the people of the communities.
Kwasari said: “When speaking on migration, traditional leaders know those who are members of their communities and those who are foreigners.”
He says leaders of communities need to work together with other stakeholders to ensure that the farmers’/herders’ conflict is mitigated.
Also, the Nasarawa State Coordinator of the NLTP, Dr. Abdullahi Musa, commended the efforts of the CDD and its partners in pushing for the implementation of the plan.
Musa appealed to the Centre to take a step forward by going into the field in some of the affected communities to seek ways of getting resident to buy into the NLTP.
Identifying major factors responsible for the Herder/farmer conflict as population explosion and global warming which has necessitate migration and leading to limited land spaces, Musa assures that through NLTP farmers and herders are fully aware of their operational boundaries as far as grazing reserve is concerned in the state.
Representing the Abdullahi Sule, the Nasarawa State governor, his Special Adviser on Civil Society Organisations and Partners, Munirat Abdullahi, said the NLTP was keyed into by seven different states across Nigeria.
Ms. Abdullahi said that Nasarawa is one of the first three states which implemented the plan with a view of finding lasting solution to the conflict between farmers and herders.
Also, a representative of the Emir of Lafia, Alhaji Ishiaka Dauda, said the emirate is happy that the Nasarawa State government is serious about finding lasting solution to the crisis between farmers and herders.
Alhaji Dauda said a peaceful environment is key to productivity.
He said: “We all like meat, our crops are from farmers and everyone eats the products from the two parties, thus the need for us to ensure we all co-habit peacefully.”
Superintendent of Police, Jiriko Jonathan, who represented the Nasarawa State Commissioner of Police said the Police is interested in peacebuilding in the communities and state at large.
SP Jonathan said the Police has started the recruitment of officers referred to as Special Constables for the purpose of peacebuilding in areas where there are conflicts.
“These special constables are selected from the communities and the aim is to build people’s confidence. With this selection process, the people are part of the community and also part of the Nigeria Police Force,” Jonathan said.
He further called for the inclusion of the Police in activities bordering on peacebuilding and conflict resolution as such involvement helps the institution serve the people better.
In her address, the Assistant Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Eunice Ibitoye, said security agencies in Nasarawa States are saddled with the responsibility of securing the lives and property of the people of the state.
Ms. Ibitoye, who is also the Head of Department of Peace and Conflict Resolution at the NSCDC said her department tries to remain as civil as police as the name of the agencies implies.
She said: “In fact, for my department, which is Peace and Conflict Resolution, we barely wear uniforms like you can see me now on mufti. The essence is for us not to scare the people and for them to also see us as part of them.”