A mediation and peace-building organisation, Farmers and Herders Initiative for Peace and Development, has proffered solutions to ending the conflict between farmers and herdsmen especially in North-central and North-western Nigeria.
The conflict in states like Nasarawa, Benue, Taraba, Zamfara and Kaduna states has variously claimed lives and property on both sides.
The organisation said it embarked on peace-building mission in July in seven of the most affected states.
The initiative, it said, is sponsored by a leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu.
In a statement by Salim Umar, the group’s secretary, the organisation identified some ways that can lead to curtailing of the perennial conflict, arising from its five-month field work.
The organisation advocated for checking activities of armed vigilante groups, which, it said, often go beyond their own briefs and do things inimical to peace and harmony.
They also identified educating the rural populace as one way of increasing their awareness levels.
The group said governments must “intensify their efforts in taming the activities of illegal vigilante groups and armed gangs operating with impunity in many states. They indirectly instigate farmers and herders’ clashes in the Middle Belt areas. They are also responsible for cattle rustling and burning of herders hamlets including the outright shooting of cattle.
“These groups are posing a serious threat to peaceful coexistence as they are mostly engaged in criminal activities that are provoking negative emotions and reactions,” the statement added.
The group said, “there is an appreciable level of peace in all the states visited thereby minimizing the infamous farmers-herders violent confrontations that were hitherto a weekly incident.”
The initiative, it said, is desirous of ensuring that “peace reigns supreme between our farming communities and the pastoralists in the country.
“There had been this age-long harmonious relationship between them, which suffered a serious setback not too long ago. It is in the light of this objective that we embarked on sensitization, peace advocacy visitations in order to reach out to the communities in disputes across the seven states that cut across the North East, North West and North Central zones of Nigeria.”
“All this was made possible through the interventions of many distinguished Nigerians particularly that of elder-statesman Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu – The Jagabanof Borgu Kingdom, who single-handedly sponsored all our engagements in the states mentioned earlier.
“It is important to note that the intervention of Asiwaju BolaAhmed Tinubu was informed by his personal desire to see the two communities of herders and farmers live in peace with one another.”
The group said the politician’s sponsorship of the initiative was “a patriotic act and a humanitarian intervention that is devoid of any political affiliation whatsoever”
The organisation said the project has the “full support” of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, saying the two leaders provide support and guidance for the peace-building mission.