Edo State governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said the state government will continue to intensify efforts to stem clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the state to ensure harmonious relationship among different groups in the state.
Obaseki disclosed this during a parley with the national leaders of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria and heads of security agencies in the state, at the Government House in Benin City, Edo State capital.
He said though there might be challenges with identifying some herdsmen due to their itinerary nature, the state government was working to ensure that such issues are cleared to ensure smooth relations among the herdsmen and farming communities across the state.
He said the meeting was organised as part of the measures to engage stakeholders and exchange ideas to ensure peace, noting, “As a member of the committee of the National Economic Council led by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, to deal with the issue, I know how sensitive the issue is and how it has led to the loss of lives and property in many states across the country.”
He said the state is fortunate to have recorded fewer incidents as efforts have been intensified to manage the situation. He said this was done by setting up the security committee in the 18 local government councils, noting “The committee was made up of council chairmen, two leaders of the Hausa/Fulani community, Directorate of State Security, Divisional Police officers and two native farmers. They will continue to meet monthly and report any incident in their areas to the committee at the state level.”
Obaseki explained that in addition to the structures in place to address the situation, the state has resolved challenges by identifying herders and organising sensitisation programmes for them. He added, “With the structures in place, sensitisation programmes will be organised for the Hausa/Fulani herdsmen, farmers and other relevant stakeholders in different communities across the state. Through these, we hope to reduce the incidents of clashes between herders and farmers.”
He maintained that the ban on night-grazing still stands, and approved a 40-day window request by the group to allow strangers in their midst to register with the state government.
By Patrick Ochoga, Benin
National president, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Muhammadu Kirowa, represented by the group’s National Secretary, Baba Othman Ngelzarma, commended the governor for the positive steps taken to ensure peaceful co-existence between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in the state.
He said, “The stand against night-grazing shows the governor’s seriousness to maintain peace in the state. The setting up of the committee with representatives of local communities who are critical stakeholders, will go a long way to ensure a lasting peace.”
Kirowa said it was worrisome that the clash between farmers and herdsmen, which is a national security problem, has assumed a new dimension with political, religious and ethnic colourations.
“If the problem must be resolved, it must be approached holistically. We are ready to capture the data of our people through biometrics as it has become necessary for us to identify our members,” he said.
“The sensitisation for relevant stakeholders is another important step that will contribute to peace in the state. We have tried this method in Ekiti state and it has worked effectively to reduce the clash between farmers and Fulani herdsmen,” Kirowa added.