The Federal Government has commenced nationwide consultations with community, traditional, religious and opinion leaders (led by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo (SAN)) towards ending the incessant farmers-herdsmen conflict in Nigeria. NANTS notes that violent conflicts between nomadic herders from northern Nigeria and sedentary farming communities in the central and southern zones have escalated in recent years and are spreading southward, threatening the country’s security and stability. With an estimated death toll of approximately 2,500 people in 2016, these clashes are becoming as potentially dangerous as the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East. As these conflicts increase in frequency, intensity and geographical scope, so do their humanitarian and economic toll exacerbate.
It is therefore on this backdrop that the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) commends the federal government over the current initiative of open nationwide consultations to address the needless conflicts. NANTS asserts that although government’s assertive action is long overdue, the consultation is a way of extending an olive branch to the perpetrators of such crimes across the country. The Government should however bear in mind that those who are killer herdsmen may require more than consultation; therefore, they should be properly identified and consequently prosecuted with the long arm of the law so that others who are planning or intending to do same will be able to learn their lessons. Such prosecutorial/legal actions would further strengthen the resolve of government’s recognition of the sanctity of human rights of citizens and particularly the right to life. To this end, government and well meaning Nigerians must be ready to condemn in the most unequivocal and sturdy terms the acts of violence perpetrated by any person and more particularly, the killing and maiming of women and their children in the farms. These despicable and nefarious activities today instill fears in small scale farmers and often prevent them from going to the farms, resulting in shrinking agricultural productivity and constantly reducing the nation to the status of food import dependence.