Irked by the wave of deadly clashes between herdsmen and farmers in some parts of the country, the Federal Government, yesterday, in Abuja put its foot down, declaring that enough was enough, vowing to deal with perpetrators, Fulani herdsmen. Minister of Interior, Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd) and Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Bassey Okon Akpanyung, gave the warning at a one-day stakeholders’ meeting on Pastoralists-Sedentary Farmers’ conflict in Nigeria.
The warning came, even as the government blamed the social media for its unsavory role in fuelling much of the crisis, especially as it related to reprisals. According to Dambazau, “the rise of the social media and the internet has given scope to non-traditional media outlets which has seen interest groups frame stories surrounding the conflict in ways that have tended to undermine the corporate existence of Nigeria.”
While he noted that clashes between herdsmen and farmers had grave implications for Nigeria’s internal security architecture, the minister said the parley was to arrive at a common understanding of the problems underlying the conflict and to harness institutional memory of past policy interventions from the various stakeholders. He said: “There have been a number of committees and think-thank type investigations into the conflict in the past and it is the intention of the Ministry of Interior to gather these together and note which have been implemented, highlighting the effects and failures of each in order to arrive at narrative and doctrinal certainties.
He said a subsequent and expanded meeting would be held soon to develop a sustainable and enduring solution to the conflict but warned that such engagements must be devoid of ethnic, religious or partisan agenda which often led to rancour and sentimental difficulties.
The permanent secretary, on his part, regretted that such conflicts had led to the untimely deaths of not just the actors but many innocent Nigerians. He said: “We have, as a nation, already lost many lives and we must find a solution to this conflict. It is of a needless nature and we think enough is enough.” The parley drew participants from security agencies, National Boundary Commission, National Human Rights Commission, relevant ministries, among others.