Although natural resource conflicts were common in the early 1990s, violent fatalities between farmers and cattle rearers have been as tremendous as the daily ritual killings across Nigeria, particularly since 2006 till date. If death tolls occasioned by Boko Haram and other unreported extrajudicial killings are added, human killings are no longer newsy phenomena in the country. As such, in view of the complex nature and patterns of these clashes, President Muhammadu Buhari’s government should ally with relevant international organizations to urgently address the following remote and immediate causes of the ongoing killings.
One of the remote causes of violent clashes between farmers and cattle breeders is deforestation. Of the world’s remaining biodiversity, tropical forests which cover half are deteriorating at a devastating rate, even as population growth uncontrollably increases. As deforestation of the tropical forests continues, there is evident loss of species, forcing the cattle rearers to invade lands mainly specified for farming. The challenges and difficult choices before us today are the results of the neglected warnings by World’s professional environmentalists about population growth. Therefore, President Buhari should begin the integration of more efficient reproductive health and family planning programmes.
The effects of poverty and globalization on the environment must be functionally tackled for the government to permanently stop the killings. For survival, many poor people (Including farmers and cattle rearers) are pressurized into the pursuit of fragile natural resources, courtesy of poverty. Despite rising economic activity, several billions of people in developing countries lack basic sanitation, clean water, adequate housing, access to modern health services and purposive primary schooling. Nigeria cannot stay unaffected from globalization which has increased global wealth and growth. This has also indirectly increased income inequality. The environment is basically about the people, plants and animals. As cattles and their owners need potable water and grazing, so the farmers want more proper infrastructure to meet growing needs, contaminated water, air and garbage due to increasing urbanization.
As the economic gap between industrialized and developing nations widens by the day, Buhari’s government should introduce more purposive perpendicular poverty alleviating measures to cushion the cruel effects arising from the parallel gap between developed and underdeveloped nations. The particular areas that constitute the gap include population growth, rising affluence, pollution, waste management and persistent poverty.
Via the social media, the emir of Kano and patron to Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi had alleged that about 800 herdsmen were killed by Mambilla militias in 2014 and that evidence of names and pictures of the deceased were submitted to the former president Goodluck Jonathan, also allegedly. The matters arising pose the following questions: were the names and pictures of the killed officially submitted to Jonathan administration? Was there any subsequent investigation or not to uncover those behind the genocide? Who constitute (d) the Mambilla militancy? Was the alleged killing a direct or otherwise, alleged consequence of earlier attacks launched by the 800 herdsmen?
The government can stop the incessant clashes through renewed campaigns for more tree planting to soften the cruel efforts of deforestation in Nigeria; by tackling the challenges and difficult choices which population growth causes; integration of more reproductive health and family planning programmers; more poverty alleviation projects should be implemented by governments at all levels; and provision of proper infrastructure to meet growing needs, like potable water systems in the rural areas.
Mr Sulaiman Ajibade lives in Lagos