Herder-farmers conflict: Embracing the Ganduje, Abounu solution

FIELDING questions from journalists in Katsina, recently, the Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, said his administration has been able to stem the tide of banditry by establishing a ranching culture in the state. He said: “We are building a RUGA settlement in Samsosua forest, our border with Katsina, and we have succeeded in curtailing the effect of banditry in that area. So, we are building many houses, constructing a dam, establishing a cattle artificial insemination centre. We are establishing a veterinary clinic and already, we have started building houses for herdsmen.”

Ganduje advocated for the abolishment of nomadic herding which features the transportation or trekking of herdsmen from the North to the Middle Belt and Southern part of Nigeria. “There should be a law that will ban it, otherwise, we cannot control the conflicts between herdsmen and farmers and cannot control the cattle rustling which are affecting us greatly,” he said.

For Benue State deputy governor, Benson Abounu, Ganduje’s advocacy is worth embracing, adding that having seen it all, Ganduje, who was once a cattle rearer, is highly informed about the situation, and his recommendation of a law prohibiting nomadic grazing should be given a chance to bear fruits across the country. There is no gainsaying Olayiwola Adeleke, the Chairman of the Igana Local Council Development Area, LCDA, and his constituency appreciates in no small measure, Governor Ganduje’s intervention and suggestions concerning the herdsmen-farmers conflict.

Not even Adeleke’s position as the chief security officer of Igana could earn him respect of preferential treatment when kidnappers accosted his vehicle and pounced on him. The beating he endured and humiliation he suffered in the hands of his assailants are better imagined. According to him: “All of a sudden, we heard gun shots. These people came out from the bush with guns in their hands. They ordered us to open the door. They began to slap me and my driver, they beat us mercilessly. They were even shooting to scare people away. They are young boys.”

On the heels of Adeleke’s travail, the chairman of the Ibarapa Northwest Local Government Area, Daniel Okediji, explained that the insecurity rocking Ibarapa metamorphosed from highway robbery to kidnapping. He said: “Initially it was the case of herders attacking the farmers on their farms; when they destroy the farm, farmers would want to react but instead of pleading, some of them will start attacking the farmers with machetes.”

According to the International Crisis Group, ICG, escalated conflicts between farming communities and criminal herders are six times deadlier than Boko Haram insurgency because of the number of civilian casualties. Between 2010 and 2015, 850 violent clashes were recorded between farmers and herders in the Middle Belt region claiming the lives of 6,500 people and displacing 62, 000. In 2016 alone, ICG recorded 2,500 deaths arising from these violent clashes majority of the victims were from Benue and Kaduna and other southern states. From 2018 when the crisis took a new dimension, an estimated 300,000 peoples have reportedly fled their homelands. As farmers flee their communities, criminal herders acquire their lands and settle.


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