THE Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo-led Committee set up by the National Economic Council, NEC, to tackle the armed herdsmen menace in the country is the highest gesture by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration in solving this national crisis.
With this gesture, we hope the President Muhammadu Buhari regime is now fully prepared to tackle this problem with all the might of the Federal Government to bring peace across the land.
According to a statement read out by a member of the Committee, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State: “On the farmers/herdsmen crises, Council constituted a working group to collaborate with the Federal Government in addressing the issues of impunity regarding the killings and violence. The Committee, composed of nine governors under the chairmanship of the Vice- President, would work in accordance with the President’s commitment to ensure that all perpetrators of violence are brought to book.”
The killings have festered for over 15 years, starting with the serial massacres of indigenes of communities around the Jos areas of Plateau State. Various task forces and peace efforts were put in place without making any meaningful impact. Rather, the incursions, raids and attacks by armed herdsmen continued to spread and increase in scope. Today, virtually all the states in the North Central and Southern zones of the country have fallen victim to the rampaging herdsmen, some whom are said to be “foreigners.”
For the Osinbajo Committee to deliver results, it must first of all define the problem at hand truthfully and realistically. The crisis primarily has to do with the invasion of communities and farmlands by illegally-armed militias masquerading as pastoralists. They lead their livestock into people’s farmlands, and when they are resisted, they kill, burn, displace communities and sometimes take over people’s land.
Nigerian farmers and Fulani pastoralists have lived peacefully for decades, often forming symbiotic relationships. It was the coming of the violent armed militias targeting farmers and their means of livelihood that changed the equation. The situation is not helped by the refusal of the pastoralists to accept other options to transhumance. It is further worsened by the position of government on this vexatious issue, which, where we stand, is at best unclear.
The Osinbajo Committee must strive for success. Failure of its efforts will drain the nation of all hopes of peaceful resolution. It must consult widely and recommend measures that will give justice to those who lost heavily in lives and property while ensuring that both crop and livestock farmers are accommodated without depriving anyone of their ancestral patrimony for the benefit of the other.
We wish the Osinbajo panel unqualified success.