Continuous communal and/or boundary clashes between herdsmen and farmers have been identified as a very serious threat to food security and economic prosperity of Nigeria in general.
All these information was revealed during a 1-day workshop organized by Cleen Foundation, in association with a Canadian organisation at Mbalano, in Isukwuato Local Government Area of Abia State.
The workshop, which was organised on how to foster peace, friendship and understanding among farmers, villagers and herdsmen in all parts of the state gave participants the opportunity to bare their minds on what they think should be done to find a lasting solution between herdsmen and their host communities.
The programme officer of the Foundation, Mr. Ifeanyi Anyanwu urged participants not to see the conflict from tribal or religious perspective.
He said if the association between the herdsmen and their host communities were harnessed, they could help in exposing nefarious activities of some evil-minded people, like kidnappers and ritual killers.
“We want them to understand that when you kill a cow out of anger, you are committing a crime. We want them to work together to promote peace and also to help us to come out of this recession. You can imagine farmers not going to farm because of herdsmen and herdsmen not rearing their cows because of farmers, you can see that it would even bring us down the more,” Anyanwu wondered.
Nevertheless, he suggested that in the event that it is established that a herdsman destroys a farmer’s crops, he should be made to pay compensation to the affected farmer. He strained that the host communities should also communicate the norms of their land to strangers to achieve a lasting peace. Some farmers present lamented that the herdsmen were violent and in some instance, raped their women.
In her narration, Mrs. Chinasa Egu, the chairman of Isukwuato Market Women Association, regretted that the farmers/herdsmen conflict had negatively affected traders in her area as they bow have little to buy from farmers for sale. She, however, thanked Cleen Foundation for trying to end the problem in the country.
The event was declared open by the Transitional Chairman of Isukwuato Local Government of Abia State, Navy Captain Chris Osondu, representative of Nigerian Police Force, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, traditional rulers, women and youth leaders, journalists and members drawn from various communities in Isukwuato.
But at the time of filing this report, herdsmen or their representatives were still being awaited at the venue, to give their own side of the story as well as benefit from the workshop.