The National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Sen. Bola Tinubu, has called for unity and decisiveness to tackle the unabated farmer herders crisis in the country.
Tinubu, in a statement by his Media Aide, Tunde Rahman, said that the herder-farmer dispute had taken acute and violent dimensions and had cost too many innocent lives while destroying the property and livelihoods of many others.
According to him, as vital as security is to the resolution of this matter, the nation must realise security measures alone will not suffice.
He said that enhanced security might be the necessary first step, but it could not be the only step.
“This matter is not ethnic in factual origin or actual causation although in the minds and hearts of too many it has become ethnic in recrimination and impulsive action.
“There have been sporadic disputes in the past but this one is more severe. The reasons for the greater violence of this current dispute are myriad, “Tinubu said.
According to him, farmers have a right to farm their land unmolested and herders have a right to raise their livestock without undue interference.
He, however, added that when the conflict between these groups arises to such an extent, the nation must set forth clear principles and policies to remove the tension, in order to allow both to proceed toward their stated goals, to live in harmony and according to their respective rights.
“To destroy the crops or seize the property of the innocent farmer or herder is nothing if not an act of criminality,” he said.
Tinubu noted that unoccupied public land could be fenced into grazing areas or ranches and leased to herders on a very low-cost, nominal basis.
He added that the leasing is not intended to penalise herders, rather the nominal fee should be intended to ensure the herders were invested in the project and incentivized to use the land provided.
Tinubu said this aspect would also mitigate any resentment over herders being given land for free.
He urged the government to also assist farmers to increase productivity by providing subvention for their acquisition of fertilizer, equipment and machinery.
He said this could be done by establishing commodity boards to guarantee minimum prices for important crops.
Tinubu said in the medium to long term, resources must be dedicated to establishing better irrigation and water catchment systems to further improve farm productivity and mitigate the dire impact of the flood.
He stressed the need to establish a permanent panel in each state as a forum for farmers, herders, security officials and senior state officials to discuss their concerns, mitigate contention and identify trouble before it erupts.
According to him, the crisis gas aggravated ethnic sentiment and political tension and despite the efforts of some of those in positions of high responsibility and public trust, the crisis has not significantly abated.
“Sadly, others who should know better have incited matters by tossing about hate-tainted statements that fall dangerously short of the leadership these people claim to provide.
“Because of the violence that has ensued and the fretful consequences of such violence, if left unabated, we must move in unison but decisively to end the spiral of death and destruction.
“Only when the violence and the illogic of it are halted can logic and reason prevail. Until the violence is rolled back, we cannot resolve the deep problems that underlie this conflict.
“We will neither be able to uplift the farmer from his impoverished toil nor move the herder toward the historic transformation which he must make,” Tinubu said.