by Evelyn Okakwu,
Nigeria’s Interior Minister has blamed social media for escalating herdsmen/farmers clashes across the country.
Clashes between herdsmen and their host communities (mainly farmers) have caused the deaths of hundreds of people in the past year.
The Interior Minister, Abdulrahman Dambazau, said the crises between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria constitute a threat to the peaceful co-existence of the country.
Speaking during an inaugural meeting for stakeholders on the conflict in Abuja, Mr. Dambazau said the effects of the conflicts have been loss of lives, dislocation of people and communities, as well as the destruction of socio-economic activity.
He blamed social media for the way the crisis is viewed by Nigerians
“The rise of the social media has given scope to the non-traditional media outlets which has seen interest groups frame stories surrounding the conflict in ways that tend to undermine the cooperate existence of Nigeria,” he said.
Mr. Dambazau said the meeting, which hopes to bring together ethnic, religious, geopolitical, civil societies and other concerned parties, will after its inauguration on Thursday serve as a basis for deciding on the membership of subsequent stakeholders meeting on the conflict.
“Although the problem is currently within the Niger-Benue river basin regions of the country, it has a wider geographical implication affecting the West and even Central Africa.
“While the ongoing conflict and present meeting is centered on Nigeria’s internal security, I believe it might be necessary to also consider the larger West and Central Africa region in arriving at an understanding of the Niger-Benue basin as an arena of conflict because of its rich pasture and water resources where pastoralists converge seasonally to graze their cattle”.
“It is duly recognised that the conflict spawns beyond the immediate Niger-Benue river through to even south-eastern and western Nigeria, where similar conflicts; even with violent tendencies, are being recorded regularly”, Mr. Dambazau said.
He said the stakeholders meeting is aimed at assessing the “Pastoralist/sedentary farmers conflict in Nigeria,” a plan by the Federal Government to put together the results of various investigations and documentation about herdsmen/farmers clash in Nigeria, in a bid find a lasting solution to the problem.
“There have been a number of committees and think-thank type investigations into the conflict in the past; and it is the intention of the Ministry of Interior to gather these together and note which have been implemented, highlighting the effects and failures of each, in order to arrive at narrative and doctrinal certainties,” Mr. Dambazau stated.
He added that deliberate effort will be made to avoid religious or partisan agenda; and previous legislations on the matter will also be assessed for necessary interventions.
“This will in turn inform the design of a definite policy intervention, which will see multi-level convergent action that will in turn lead to an abatement of the conflict”, Mr. Dambazau said.