Adjunct Professor of Communications and ardent proponent of national discourse, Dr. Abubakar Abba Tahir, has given insights into Nigeria's age-long herder-farmer conflict.
The Vice President for University Relations said a sustainable solution to the lingering conflict will only come from a consultative forum that involves traditional institutions, farmers, herders, and a wide range of professionals with vested interests in the agricultural and peace sectors.
Dr. Tahir was the keynote speaker at the annual Law Week of the Nigerian Bar Association, Adamawa State Chapter, held from December 2 to 6, 2019. His presentation was themed Farmer-Herders Conflict & the Way Forward.
"I belong to the school of thought that espouses amicable solutions to this age-old conflict through a mediation process that includes our African traditional institutions," said Dr. Tahir
He highlighted the symbiotic relationship between farmers and herders and said both play vital roles in sustaining the agricultural value chain.
"Farmers feed the nation and cattle plod through farms, thereby ventilating the earth and providing natural and harmless manure. These same cattle eat weeds, saving labor costs for farmers."
For this, he maintained that even as herders and farmers clash across the country, it is certain that herdsmen will always rear their cattle and farmers will never stop farming. The ethnic backgrounds and socioeconomic status of people who ply these trades from the two groups (Fulbe who are mainly nomads and the non-Fulbe) will continue to be diluted, with any going either way at any time.
Nigerians caught in the middle of the crisis will continue to demand both farm produce and cattle with the by-products.
He explained that some people have called for cattle ranching in appropriated spaces while many others have called for the outright outlawing of open grazing. In an instance of why passing laws on open grazing may not be a solution, he said legislation banning herdsmen in Taraba and Benue states did not end the crisis but heightened tensions.
"States, governors, and legislators who passed the laws neither stopped utilizing cow products nor did their families abstain from owning cattle or deploying Fulbe herdsman to rear them on their behalf."
And the nomads, he said, did not stop working for non-Fulbe owners of cattle or stopped completely from engaging in subsistence farming on the sidelines of herding their cattle or the herds owned by their employers who are mainly the elite from other ethnic groups.
More than 200 lawyers attended the conference which took place at the Women Education and Empowerment Initiative Resource Center in Yola. The Law week ended on a merry note as guests wined and dined at the AUN Club. In an awards ceremony, many outstanding practitioners were honored for their meritorious service.
Reported by Omorogbe Omorogiuwa