A new framework for understanding and resolving farmers-herdsmen conflict in Nigeria
Herdsmen-farmers' relations have had a big impact on West African history, leading to revolutionary changes in the 19th-century when some old regimes were upended. In the subsequent two centuries specifically in Northern Nigeria, the new regime maintained law and order through a system that successfully regulated farming and herding. Following the destruction of this effective regulatory system, perennial farmers-herdsmen conflicts have intensified in recent decades, precipitating significant losses of lives and destruction of farmlands and property in various parts of Nigeria. Successive Nigerian governments have failed to resolve the problem due to, among others, lack of political will and the absence of a comprehensive policy initiative that considers technological, political, cultural, and ethnic dimensions of the problem. This study therefore draws from historical review and thematic analyses of documents, memos and interviews of key stakeholders, including farmers, herdsmen, political actors and policy makers to identify and analyse socio-political and technological factors associated with farmers-herdsmen conflicts. The findings reveal that the herdsmen, who have for centuries been accustomed to a nomadic lifestyle would, while not averse to technological innovations, struggle to adopt a new mode of production that is based on settlement in a single place. The paper therefore observes that, while technological innovations are essential to resolving the economic struggle for land, the required lifestyle changes associated with the uptake of technological innovations are a more complex process that requires continuous stakeholder engagement, cultural understanding, and sustained government commitment in a negotiated process of modernisation.
Citation:Kolade, O. and Ibrahim, G. (2017) A new framework for understanding and resolving farmers-herdsmen conflict in Nigeria. Paper presented at the Development Studies Association 2017 Annual Conference, Bradford, England. 6-8 September 2017