Buhari’s Solution To Farmers-Herders Crisis Best Since 1960 – Presidency

In what many may consider an unpopular opinion, presidential aide, Garba Shehu, has claimed that President Muhammadu Buhari’s strategy for tackling the farmers-herders crisis is the most effective since 1960 when the country gained independence.

Shehu faulted the positions of individuals and socio-cultural groups who claim that Buhari is treating the crisis with levity.

“It is a fact that the Buhari administration is the only government of Nigeria that has put forward a workable solution to the herder-farmer challenge in all the years since independence,” the presidential said while delivering a speech at the 10th anniversary of the Federal University Dutsin-Ma (FUDMA) on Friday in Katsina State.

Shehu’s claim, however, contradicts the stance of some prominent Nigerians such as Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State who had accused the Buhari administration of being emotionally attached to herdsmen which according to him is “very inimical to the corporate existence of Nigeria.”

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, had similarly accused the Buhari government of contributing to the country’s worsening insecurity through alleged protection of herdsmen’s interest.

“The Federal Government is biased and unfair,” Ortom had said in February, adding that “armed herders rated the fourth deadliest terrorist group by global terrorist index is enjoying the protection of the Federal Government. That is not justice.”

A report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) had also faulted the Buhari administration’s strategy at addressing the herders-farmers crisis.

“In February 2016, following a public outcry over scores killed in the Agatu area, Benue state, President Buhari ordered a probe, pledging that ‘once the investigations are concluded, we will act immediately to address the root of the problem’. There has been no public report of that investigation or follow-up action,” said the ICG.

“In April 2016, President Buhari said he had ordered security forces to ‘take all necessary action to stop the carnage’, pledging that stopping the violence had become a priority of his administration. Since then there have been many incidents and hundreds killed.”

According to the ICG, “feeble” judicial action or lack of prosecution of herders arrested for perpetrating violence has “encouraged actors to take matters into their own hands.”

But in his presentation titled ‘Fake news: Challenges of information management’, Shehu described such views as “incorrect”.

He said, “The threat to civilians and peaceful co-existence between different ethnic and religious groups from farmer-herders clashes, banditry and land disputes are of serious concern to the Buhari government.

“It is incorrect, however, to assert that the government has or is doing nothing to address the threats.

“Firstly, there are ongoing efforts for the establishment of cattle ranches to prevent or curtail open grazing, the practice that brings herders and farmers into conflict.

“This is an age-old problem facing Nigerian Governments since the colonial days. However, matters of land distribution are dealt with at state level.

“This means willingness has to be shown by state governors to drive the process forward. The Federal government launched a plan last year to work with states to address these issues together.

“Unfortunately, this has been lacking in some states, and with regards to the long and determined battle waged against Boko Haram, Nigerians are aware of the efforts made by this Government.

“When the government came to power, the terrorist group held and administered an area the size of Belgium. Now they hold none. The terrorists are hiding out amongst remote forests and across borders.

“This makes it difficult to extinguish the final flames of the insurgency, and the government has no illusions of the potent threat still posed.

“Recent statistics have shown that over 14,500 Boko haram members have voluntarily surrendered.

“However, the progress made cannot be denied. In the face of rising crime and insecurity, the government’s new community policing initiative was launched.

“Some 10,000 new constables were recruited and the process is on for another 10,000 to be recruited from the areas they will safeguard as opposed to past practice.

“The government hopes this will bring policing closer to local communities. N13 billion was earmarked for the initial initiative. Going by the plan, every year will see an additional 10,000 policemen,” said Shehu.

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