The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has blamed the incessant clashes between farmers and herdsmen on environmental, rather than ethnic or religious issues, while assuring of the Federal Government’s commitment to finding a lasting solution to the clashes.
The Minister, who stated this at a mini town hall meeting which he organised for the staff of the Nigerian Embassy in Berlin, Germany, and a cross-section of Nigerians residing in the European country on Friday, said that contrary to the “narrative being pushed in certain quarters that gives ethnic and religious coloration to the clashes”, they were caused by purely environmental issues.
Mr. Mohammed said whereas Nigeria’s population in 1963 was about 48 million, it is now about 180 million, with the country’s land mass remaining the same, meaning there are more people per square kilometre and raising the chances of clashes over dwindling resources.
He also said that Lake Chad that used to provide water and other resources to more than 30 million people in four countries, including Nigeria, in the early 1960s has shrunk by about 90%, from 25,000 square kilometres to 2,500 square kilometres, thus forcing those affected to move south in search of resources.
”These and other reasons, like desertification, have altered the resource landscape, heightened competition for dwindling resources and raised the possibility of clashes between farmers and herders,” the Minister said, noting that the establishment of ranches is one sure way of reducing such clashes.
He, however, said that in resolving the crisis, both the farmers and the herders must be willing to shift slightly from their positions which are grounded in their way of life over centuries.
Mr. Mohammed, who is in Berlin to attend a meeting of African Tourism Ministers on the sidelines of the International Travel Trade Fair in the German capital, said contrary to the “fake news being peddled in the social media by naysayers”, President Muhammadu Buhari is putting Nigeria back on its feet.
”The naysayers have taken to the Social Media to distort the situation in Nigeria. They are spending huge amounts of money to spread fake news about Nigeria, hoping it will override the string of achievements by the Administration. That is why Nigerians at home and abroad must ensure they have access to authentic information. One way is to download the FGNiAPP on their hand-held devices. It is free!
”The economy is on a steady growth, as attested to be the latest report from the National Bureau of Statistics: The economy attracted $12.2 billion in foreign investments in 2017, up from $5.38 billion in 2016. That represents 138% increase; The economy further consolidated its recovery from recession with GDP growing by 1.92% in Q4 2017, compared to 1.40% in Q3 2017 and a contraction of -1.73% in Q4 2016; This means the economy ended 2017 with a growth of 0.82% compared to a contraction of -1.58% in 2016.
”GDP Growth in Q4 2017 was driven by growth in crop production, crude production and natural gas, metal ores, construction, transportation and storage, trade, electricity and gas production, indicating that the Administration’s diversification effort is working,” he said.
For his part, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Germany, Yusuf Tuggar, commended the patriotism and dedication of the Nigerians in Diaspora, especially those in Germany.
”There is a burgeoning Nigerian community (in Germany) committed to the prosperity of Nigeria. They are well in tune with the policies of (the Nigerian) government and they are accomplished men and women and worthy ambassadors,” he said.
In their comments, some leaders of the Nigerian diaspora commended the government for the progress being made in lifting up the country and stressed the need to step up efforts to ensure the security of life and property in order to attract more foreign investors to the country.