Xraying Fulani, Farmers Conflict In Nasarawa
As a young boy growing up in Adogi town, 17 kilometres east of Lafia, I knew when the Fulanis do exchange milk or other dairy products for cereal in Nasarawa State. Although this is still occasionally practiced, the story today is entirely that of conflict and crisis. Nigeria, and Nasarawa in particular has experienced considerable increase in related communal clashes often misinterpreted as ethnic, political or religious conflict. Of particular concern however are the clashes between farmers and pastoralists.
The pastoralist and farmer conflict in Nigeria dates back to the early 80s mainly to the fact that the predominant Fulani herdsman of the lower Sahel and Sudan savannah ecologies from the North West and North East Nigeria often migrate southward to find greener pasture for their herd of cattle and with time regard themselves as natives in such areas.
One of the major factors responsible for conflict in Nasarawa State between farmers and the Fulani is thus migration, largely as a result of climate change whose effect in the far North has assumed such magnitude that the minimum vegetation cover in Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, Kano, Jigawa, Bauch, Yobe, Maiduguri, Taraba, and Adamawa states respectively have fallen below 10% as against the ideal requirement of 25% ecological cover recommended by the UNDP. Therefore desert encroachment as a result of climate change has affected the ecology of Northern Nigeria in terms of inadequate productive land for food and cash crops, decline in greener pasture for animal grazing, decline in availability of water, etc.
It must be noted also that the system of Common Pool Resources (CPRs) evolved at a time when resources were abundant; when forest, wildlife, grazing, water etc were abundant in relation to the population exploiting them. Nigeria, for example, may have a population of 35 million in the pre-colonial times, but now there are at least 165 million Nigerians. the CPRs regime that was necessary in the past has now become very inappropriate due to population explosion, rising pressure on resources, etc.
In Nigeria, one of the effects of political and military expansion was to clear a way for the south ward movement of the Fulanis. During such period, herdsmen could only exploit the pastures of the Northern wetlands such as the Hadejia ? Jama?are River Basin and the sub-humid middle belt in the dry season. When the rains came, the bulk of the herds would be sent Northwards into the semi-arid zone to prevent diseases carried by tsetse flies and other dangerous insects. But now, the Fulanis have become part of the ?Middle Belters? whether we like it or not.
In Nasarawa State, traditional rulers play significant role in both managing conflict and arranging peace-making meetings when matters get out of hand. Despite some positive initiatives by the current administration in Nasarawa State to resolve and mitigate conflicts, the reality is that government needs to understand that globalization, population increase and climate change have all converged to increase demand for scarce natural resources.
?Mohammed sent in this piece from Kano