THE general attitude of perceived insensitivity of the Federal Government to the spate of attacks on farming communities by armed pastoralist invaders could exacerbate the threats to food security of the nation unless there is an urgent change in attitude.
That these attacks, which became pronounced in 2012 under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, have not been frontally addressed by the President Muhammadu regime after 31 months in office smacks of failure of governance across party lines. That is unacceptable.
Today, the southern parts of Kaduna and many areas in Nasarawa, Benue, Taraba, Kogi, Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti, Enugu, Ebonyi, Abia, Edo, Rivers, Cross River, Akwa Ibom and Delta States are systematically targeted by armed herdsmen militias, with people killed, homes and farmlands destroyed and the indigenes often driven off their lands.
It has also been established that the ordinary harmless Fulani herdsmen have often lost their lives and livestock to cattle rustlers. There is no denying the fact that farmers and pastoralists, being invaluable factors in our drive to adequately feed our large and ballooning population, are living under tension and fear which the country does not need.
It is the duty of the Federal and State governments to provide a peaceful, harmonious and conducive environment for those engaged in all forms of agriculture not only to do their businesses but also prosper. That is the only way of ensuring food security for all Nigerians.
The major task before, especially the Federal Government, is to immediately halt the invasions of communities by armed herdsmen militias and bring those behind the attacks to book. It must be made known that both crop and livestock farming are businesses. Every investor in these businesses must be prepared, with adequate government support, to procure the land on which to carry out their business activities. Invasion of other people’s lands and communities, destruction of their crops and disrupting their means of livelihood are assaults on their constitutional rights. Government can no longer pay lip service to providing security while these horrible crimes continue unabated.
The theatres of our food basket are under siege, and many farmers are currently displaced or live in fear. Many of them have been killed and maimed. Farming manpower is being savagely depleted and jeopardised.
The agricultural sector is only next to the oil sector in efforts to drag the economy out of recession. If government does not act fast, our subsistence farmers who have toiled with very little government support might have very little to offer in our drive for food security.
The Federal Government must lead the effort to calm the storms and provide a conducive atmosphere for all farmers to thrive within the dictates of extant laws.