THE EFFECT OF HERDERS-FARMERS CONFLICT AND NATIONAL SECURITY IN NIGERIA
The herdsmen/farmers conflict in Nigeria in the past few years especially in the last five years or so portends a very great danger and a serious security threat to peace, unity, and socio- economic development of the country and Kogi State in particular. Pages of newspapers and empirical studies are replete with stories of massive killings arising from the conflicts between herders/farmers across various States in Nigeria
particularly Kogi State.
Areas affected by the conflict in the North Central Zone include Kogi, Benue, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Plateau and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, which have left heavy casualty figures, (Chinweizu, 2015 and Abiodu, 2016). Other parts of the country affected by the crisis include Ukpabi Nimbo in Uzo- Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State, Oyo, Ekiti, Ondo, Osun, Abia, Anambra, Delta, and Edo states respectively. Virtually all States in Nigeria have had (or are still experiencing) the herdsmen/farmers conflict (Abraham, 2017).
Many writers, commentators and researchers have expressed different opinions and dimensions to the causes of these conflicts. Some people see it from the cultural/historical perspective of nomadic pastoralism and climate change, (Adogi, (2013); Stone, (2013). Yet, others see it from socio-economic perspective and the struggle for resource control (Abba, 2008). Other groups also view the conflicts from ethno-religious angle, while another school of thought views the crisis from the land use planning occasioned by land tenure system in Nigeria (Isah, 2012). Those who subscribe to the land resource control premised their arguments on the presumption that farmers belief that they are the traditional owners of the land and are strongly in support of the old order which gives them inheritance of land as ancestry hereditary, patrimonial and transmissible and opposed to any unauthorized occupation or intrusion on their lands by herdsmen for forceful grazing. The herdsmen on the other hand, want free access to any grazing land for their cattle and reject or
oppose to the old order of land as hereditary and transmissible. In pursuance of these conflicting interests by the two parties, clashes ensued.
Reports in newspapers and empirical studies have indicated that there are tensions in any parts of country including Kogi State as a result of incessant conflicts between herders/farmers. The dimension the conflict has taken in recent past is left much to be desired. If the problem of herdsmen/farmers conflict is not tackled early enough and with dispatch too, it could lead to deviant defeatism and may be more catastrophic than Boko Haram crisis because of its spread, and sophistication which may degenerate into a threat to national security, peace and development.
It is interesting to note that the rapid escalation, spread and frightening dimension that the herdsmen/farmers crises have assumed in recent time, and the increasing use of sophisticated weapons as well as the impunity with which they carry out their dastardly acts call for a very serious early decisive attention to the issue in order not to allow this time bomb to degenerate beyond control. In an increasingly interconnected and complex world, it has become clear that security and development are inextricably linked, especially in a developing nation like Nigeria. Threats to security can have socio-economic implications which could impinge on development if not tackled early enough.
As the world sets a new global agenda for sustainable development, security and development research becomes very crucial to bridge these two domains. Thus, the 2003 European Security Strategy and the 2005 European Consensus on Development acknowledged the fact that there cannot be sustainable development without peace and security, and that without development and poverty eradication, there will be no sustainable peace (The WRC3, 2017). Literatures have shown that conflicts have enormous costs in terms of human, financial and infrastructure resources. Hence, International Cooperation and Development, (2017) strongly noted that Development cooperation must tackle the root causes of conflicts as instability, insecurity, violence, organized crime etc not only deter investment, hinder trade, divert public social expenditure and hamper access to development, but also severally weaken democracy, human rights and the rule of law which are core values of development (ICD, 2017). It is for the foregoing reasons that this study was carried out to identify the immediate and remote causes of herdsmen and farmers conflicts in Kogi State with a view to finding lasting solutions to the problem so as to pave way for peace, harmony and development.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEMS/JUSTIFICATION
There has been hue and cry by many people in various communities across Kogi State ons the incessant herdsmen/farmers conflicts in the recent past. The conflicts have taken new dangerous dimension to the extent that the clashes have become so frequent culminating into killings, maiming, and in some cases burning of houses and invasion of communities. Cases in point include various communities in Kogi State such as Agojeju-Idaka in Dekina Local Government Area where herders invaded the village early hours of the morning in October, 2015
and killed about 23 persons, destroyed properties and burnt down houses. Egbolo in Igalamela/Odolu Local Government Area, Umomi in Ofu Local Government Area, and the most recent was the 2018 attack in Omala Local Government Area in Kogi State where the following communities were affected by the attack – Ajichekpa, Opada, and Agbenema, while Amuro in Mopa Moro Local Government area in Kogi West and a host of other communities had experienced the same fate (Oladipo, (2018). In each of these conflicts lives were lost, property worth billions of Naira destroyed and houses were burnt. It has been observed that in the very recent past, herdsmen/farmers conflicts have increased exponentially.
Many people have attributed the conflicts to different factors such as cultural/historical, backdrop of nomadic pastoralism (Adogi, 2013). Others also attributed the causes of the conflicts to factors such as migration due to climate change, Boko Haram insurgency, policy on land law and land resource control system (Okpaleke, 2016).
Whatever may be the perceived/presumed causes, it is germane to state that a thorough research is necessary with a view to unearthing the actual causes of the conflict so as to take proactive measures that could put a stop to the herders/farmers conflict. The continuous neglect of this all important challenge poses a great threat to peace, unity, security and socio-economic development of the State and Nigeria at large as any problem in any part of the country directly or indirectly hinder national development. This research work was therefore undertaken with a view to proffering solutions that could identify early warning signals, use conflict risk analysis method and mediation to prevent eventual crisis.
Going by the foregoing backdrop, this study addressed the following research questions:
1. What are the causes of herders/farmers conflicts in Kogi State?
2. What are the security implications of herders/farmers in Kogi State?
3. How does farmers and herders conflict affect the social and economic development of Kogi State?
4. What policy measures can be put in place by both the Federal and State Governments to resolve herders/farmers conflicts in Kogi State?