Stakeholders urge formal engagement of traditional rulers to tackle herdsmen/farmers’ conflict

Some stakeholders on Wednesday called on the Federal Government to formally engage traditional rulers in the search for lasting solutions to the lingering farmers/herders imbroglio in the country.

They made the call in Abuja at a two-day Policy Dialogue on Crop/Livestock Integration organised by Synergos Nigeria.

The policy dialogue was organised to tackle both root causes and the consequences of the farmer-herder challenge in the country.

Mrs Tanwa Ashiru, the Head, the Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution said that one of the recommendations made by the participants was the need for traditional leaders to be given central and formal role in the peace building process.

She said that before now, cases of crop damage by cattle were reported to ward heads, who then inform the village heads and appropriate actions would be taken amicably.

‘‘The village heads will invite the two parties and the allegations were read out and if the herdsmen involved accept that their animals were responsible, a delegation will be raised to accompany them to the farm to assess the extent of damage.

‘‘When the teams complete their inspection, they will report back their findings to the village heads.

‘‘The Imam is then requested to speak to the two parties and admonish them on their responsibilities to each other.

‘‘What the traditional ruler or village head is doing here is mediating, dialogue between the two parties and telling them the need for peace, which must not be compromised,’’ she said.

Ashiru admonished other stakeholders on the importance of brotherhood, adding that the issue of continued clashes between farmers and herdsmen was beyond just resolving the issue but building peace.

‘‘Today, a farmer reports crop damage to the police who respond quickly by arresting the cowboy.

‘‘The owner of cows is invited to the station. The allegation is read to the herdsman and be requested to pay for the release of the cowboy that was arrested.

‘‘After paying for the cowboy release, the herdsmen will be requested to pay the farmer approximate quantity of crops during the harvest season, especially if these crops are subsistence cereals.’’

She said that whatever solutions agreed upon at the end of the dialogue should be done at the community level by involving traditional rulers resolving the conflict in amicably.

On his part, Prof. Abba Aminu, the Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension, Bayero University, Kano, said that dialogue would ensure that some recommendations for the Federal Government would be made for appropriate implementation.

He said that make the role of the traditional rulers to be more effective as they had played major roles in the past to resolve conflicts within their local domains.

NAN reports that no fewer than 70 stakeholders from federal and state ministries and private sector organisations attended the meeting. (NAN)