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Members of the Peace Architecture Dialogue (PAD), Search for Common Ground

Members of the Peace Architecture Dialogue (PAD), Search for Common Ground, has called on governments of the Middle belt region, Benue, Nasarawa and Plateau in particular, to adopt a multisectoral approach towards ending the herder-farmer conflicts in the region.

The stakeholders rising from a meeting recently insisted that there was an urgent need for a “multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral approach that involves Government, Traditional Rulers, Religious Leaders, Civil Society Organisations, Ethno-cultural Organizations, women and youths Leaders from all conflicting groups in leading peace-building interventions and processes at community, Local Government, State, Regional and National Levels.

Their position was contained in a communique issued at the end of a two-day Middle Belt Regional Peace Architecture Dialogue (RPAD) meeting, which held via Google meet.

The stakeholders who pointed out that the call has become necessary expressed concerns that farmer and herder conflicts have assumed a new dimension of ethnicity and religion leading to recurring incidents of reprisal attacks between the various groups.

According to them, “there exists an inconsistent documentation system of migrants particularly at rural areas especially where security agencies do not have sufficient presence hence posing a risk to the citizens generally.

They noted that while there is influx of herders from neighbouring states, which has contributed to incessant incidents of farmers and herders attacks and conflicts, they also observed that whenever there are attacks, perpetrators are being generalized to be armed herdsmen whereas there are criminals amongst both Herders and Farmers.

They, therefore, emphasized the need for “increased collaboration between leaders of Farmers and Herders towards joint identification of criminal gangs who perpetrate violence amongst both groups and facilitate their arrests by security agencies

The meeting, which deliberated on the roles of the PAD at State and Regional Level in transforming farmers and herder’s conflicts, among other issues, observed that as a result of the effects of climate change, population increase and change in lifestyle of herders, there has been inadequate feed for livestock hence the conflicts between farmers and herders for available farmland.

“That there has been inadequate education on human rights for citizens at all levels leading to infringement on the rights of farmers and herders hence the escalation of farmer and herders conflicts.

“The inadequate sensitization on the impact of drug abuse and inadequate trauma centers for rehabilitation of victims of farmers and herder conflicts who usually are suffering from psychological issues thus making it difficult for the parties to forgive each other and let go of existing grievances.

“That development interventions have also contributed largely to the reduction in available land for grazing hence farmers were no longer as accommodative as they used to be and that relevant Government Agencies has not lived up to its responsibilities in performing its duties with regards to implementation of existing laws put in place to prevent and mitigate farmer and herder conflicts.”

It also observed that UN Agencies particularly UNDP has begun the process of engaging a legal drafter for developing the bills for establishing the State Peace Agencies in Benue and Nasarawa States, thus creating windows for collaboration with the State PADs.

Stakeholders observed that there is the huge gap on utilization of information technology that can allow for effective and efficient early warning and early response system in managing farmer and herders conflict, just as they noted that dialogues has been more effective in managing farmer and herder conflicts than enactment of laws which usually are perceived negatively in terms of purpose and intent.

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