A non-governmental organisation (NGO) based in Kaduna, the Gusau Institute (GI), has suggested ways to address the lingering herder-farmer conflicts and irregular migration, two major challenges the nation is currently facing.
The recommendations are products of the first two sessions of the GI Roundtable Series whose reports were made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday, April 10, 2018.
The suggestions came amid warning by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Audu Ogbeh, that the crisis could escalate in 2019 if efforts are not intensified to create cattle ranches or provide better security against rustling.
In a report signed by its Director, Mrs M. Maritz, the think-tank called for a review of Nigeria’s national security policy and strategy to address the pastoralist-farmer conflicts “more directly and comprehensively”.
The group said policy guidelines on grazing activities should be retooled to mitigate the challenges of such conflicts.
Clashes between farmers and herdsmen have claimed hundreds of lives, including women and children, across the country in recent times.
Worst hit is the north central state of Benue where deadly attacks blamed on herders have left over a hundred villagers dead in many communities since the night of Dec. 31.
GI noted that a deep understanding by all role players of all the issues involved is critical to reach an agreement on proper, actionable solutions.
“The Federal Government should co-ordinate with state governments to reduce the risk of violence and to define a clear and coherent political approach to resolving the risks of pastoralist-related conflicts.
“The state governments should work more closely with traditional institutions and leaders in seeking solutions.
“The engagement and input of traditional community leaders as products of their respective people’s consensus, customs and cultures could help mitigate the friction between pastoralist and agrarian communities.
“A comprehensive study of Fulani culture and pastoralism should be commissioned so as to provide much needed insight into the thought processes that will allow for positive dialogue and negotiation,” the institute said, among other recommendations.
NAN reports that GI is the brainchild of Gen. Aliyu Gusau Mohammed (Rtd.), former Nigerian National Security Adviser and former Minister of Defence.
On irregular migration, it said there was need for the root causes of the problem to be clearly defined and tackled.
To this end, it recommended a media campaign to correct the misconception that there are always are more and better opportunities abroad.
“There is a need to emphasise growing opportunities for freedom and wealth for Nigerians, as well as the fact that entrepreneurship and innovation are in many instances worth more than an educational qualification acquired outside Nigeria.
“Still, economic development remains key,” GI said, urging governments at all levels to strengthen good governance practices, which it noted are critical for productivity and poverty alleviation.
The organisation urged the creation of a broad-based synergy among local stakeholders, security agencies, and government establishments charged with curtailing human trafficking and irregular migration.
“In this regard, reliable and actionable intelligence sharing is crucial if the operations of criminal kingpins and human traffickers are to be disrupted or ended
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as the lead government agency on international relations, should become more engaged in migration and mobility issues, including working closely with the international community.
“Regarding the transit route for irregular migrants through Niger, it is suggested that the Minister of Interior should initiate dialogue with the neighbouring Nigerien government on how to address and curb the rising number of migrants transiting Niger.
“The repatriation and re-integration of returnees should be supported in such a manner as to encourage the affected persons to return home and re-start their lives again with dignity,” GI said.
By Harrison Arubu