The Irish ambassador to Nigeria, Sean Hoy, has said Europe used laws limiting open grazing in addressing farmers and migratory herders conflict.
The ambassador was speaking at a panel discussion titled “sharing lessons from Northern Ireland peace process” organised by Embassy of Ireland, Abuja and Mambayya House, Bayero University, Kano, on Friday.
He said although the conflict is not new, it is now taking a new face.
“In Nigeria it is a history old conflict between pastoralists and certain people. While this is not a new story it is one that becomes more important in a country like Nigeria faced with a combination of mass population growth and the impact of climate change and possibly over grazing which makes the historical land use balance that suited both sides less feasible.
“We have dealt with this problem all over the world. In Europe, we have brought in laws to limit free grazing as it was essential to secure peace,” he said.
Mr. Hoy advocated for “access to education, listening to youth, provision of decent jobs, equal distribution of wealth and tolerance” as a key to sustainable peace.
“The objective was to share our experience not to tell Nigerians what to do. From discussion I believe many ideas are coming out. The importance of education, the importance of listening to young people, because young people can be radicalised if they were not educated. And this is a real risk to the stability as it was in Northern Ireland 20 years ago.
“We have to give people dignity of decent job, the chance for economy to grow. If you have more redistribution of wealth, more equality and respect for everybody’s view, then you will find much more stable environment. And in that environment peace will hold it together,” he added.
Mr. Hoy noted that, one advantage in Nigeria is that everyone identifies himself as Nigerian, as there is nobody here who does not share national identity.
“I believe Nigerians are peaceful and majority of people live in peace, very tolerant of the views of each other. You have many positive things, and in many ways you are starting in much better place than we were in Northern Ireland. We were much more divided.
“The main success story is what you see in your children. I have three children that are all adults now, they have much better life and much more peaceful life than I had. And I have much more peaceful life than the time of my father,” he said.
In his address, representative of Vice Chancellor of Bayero University, Sagiru Abbas, said the meeting was to see how other societies have tackled problems similar to that of Nigeria.
He said the university decided to invite the irish Ambassador to share some of their experience as they have encountered challenges similar to that of Nigeria.
“Their own experiences regarding peaceful coexistence as a nation. Nigeria is experiencing a lot of crisis all over the country such as farmers-herdsmen crisis, Boko Haram, Niger Delta crisis, issues of kidnapping and so many other things,” he said.