By Aideloje Ojo
Over 2, 500 lives have been lost in the past one year as a result of bloody clashes between farmers and herdsmen in four states of Kaduna, Benue, Plateau and Nasarawa.
Former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, disclosed this yesterday while addressing the opening ceremony of a one-day forum on farmers, herdsmen clash held in his farm in Niger state.
He said the country also lost $13.7 billion within the period as a result of the farmers, herders’ clashes, adding that 62, 000 persons were displaced the affected states.
“With respect to economic impact, the federal government loses $13.7 billion annually as a result of farmer/herder conflicts in Benue, Kaduna, Nasarawa and Plateau states. Averagely, these four states lost up to half (47%) of their internally generated revenue,” he said.
He said the hidden cause of these conflicts on every sphere of our national life were enormous, adding that “it has been estimated that about 25, 00 persons were killed nationwide in 2016.”
Abubakar advised governments at all level to put in place appropriate policies and responses that would guide against reoccurrence of farmers, herders’ clashes across the country.
“The recent crises in Plateau, Benue and other states that have led to loss of lives, properties, displacement of persons and families, untold hardships to communities and individuals affected. It’s a wake-up call to all relevant stakeholders, states and federal government, legislatures, traditional rulers, civil society organisations, security agencies and communities on the need to address these deadly conflicts that are expanding gradually to other states in the federation. The current situation is threatening the fragile peace of the nation.”
He commended the Search for Common Ground for its initiative and for collaborating with the General Abdulsalami Abubakar Institute for Peace and Sustainable Development Studies, expressing optimism that the Forum would recommend sustainable solutions to farmers, herders’ clashes in the country.
Project analyst Search for Common Ground, Bukola Adeleye, in an address, traced the causes of farmers, herders’ clashes to struggle for control of arable land and water in the affected areas.
According to him, the conflicts have little or no relationship with religion and ethnicity.