The major cause of the consistent conflict between the Fulani and the farmers in Kebbi State may be a thing of the past if the current effort by the state government is anything to go by.
Over N1.2 billion was recently budgeted for the construction of about 24 earths dams across the state as part of what the state government described as measures to check the threat of desertification, which has always be a major factor responsible for the persistent Fulani/Farmer conflicts. This came on the heels of repeated appeals by both the Fulani cattle bearers and the farmers during the 2011 governorship campaign tour.
In the past, frequent clashes between the farmers and the pastoral Fulani cattle bearers have posed a major challenge to the Northern governments, especially those within the far north, where such communal conflicts are more pronounced. Every year, particularly during the mid rainy season and soon after harvest, alarming number of deaths were often recorded, resulting from communal violence between the peasant farmers and the pastoral Fulani, who were in many instances, blamed for deliberate encroachment on farm crops to feed their cattle
Some scholars in the state have attributed such clashes to increasing threat of desertification, particularly within the North-West and the North-East regions and submitted that unless drastic measures were taken to curtail the threat of desert encroachment, such communal clashes may continue to remain a lingering scourge, and big security threat to the people of the zone.
During a recent summit held in Gusau, the Zamfara State capital, experts identified some of the northern states as the worst hit by the menace of desertification, and the summit unanimously agreed that the situation was closely linked to factors responsible for the persistent conflicts between the farmers and the pastoral Fulani, just as desertification continues to destroy arable and grazing lands - forcing the Fulani cattle bearers to often drive their herds to graze on farm crops, which have led to violence and loss of lives in the state.
LEADERSHIP investigations revealed that the Kebbi State’s intervention, to address the Farmer/Fulani clashes may hopefully motivate similar action plans by other stakeholders in the crusade against desertification scourge, particularly among the states identified as the worst hit by desert encroachment.
Experts also believe that the intervention would not only help in reducing the frequent communal conflicts, but would also provide alternative sources of water for both human and animal consumption in the state. The governor of the state, Alhaji Saidu Dakingari, who recently addressed the people on the social and economic significance of the facilities, advised the Fulani and the farmers to exploit the maximum advantage of the earth dams as part of their dividends of democracy and also called on them to cultivate the spirit of tolerance, peace and collaborative efforts towards developing the state.