An x-ray of incessant conflicts between nomads and their neighbours

Prof Rashid Aderinoye, Executive Secretary, National Commission for Nomadic Education

Prof Rashid Aderinoye, Executive Secretary, National Commission for Nomadic Education


By Rashid Aderinoye


Over the years there has been conflicts of different nature in Nigeria; such conflicts include industrial disputes between employers and employees, organised labour conflicts, conflicts due to leadership and political tussles, ethno-religious conflicts, and conflicts borne out of perceived marginalisation and deprivation. But for the purpose of this presentation, attention will be given to the persistent conflicts between nomadic herdsmen and farmers had received both national and international attention in recent times. Similarly, conflicts between nomadic fisher folk and fishing communities also occur in some parts of the country where the two groups co-exist.

Retrospectively, incessant conflicts between nomadic herders and farmers have been prevalent in states like Plateau, Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba, Kaduna, Bauchi, Adamawa, Zamfara, Katsina and the FCT in the north. Similarly, a number of states in the southern part of the country like Oyo, Ondo, Enugu, Delta and Cross River also experience herdsmen and farmers conflicts.

Immediate and Remote Causes of Farmer – Herders Conflicts

In an attempt to find out the immediate and remote causes of these conflicts, the National Commission for Nomadic Education through its field staff, teachers, and extension agents established the following as prime or remote factors that have triggered conflicts over the years:

  • areas hitherto identified and demarcated as grazing reserves by the local, states and federal government authorities have been taken over by big time and other local farmers, thereby depriving the pastoralists of grazing rights.
  • In some cases, while demarcating such grazing areas, alternative lands were not provided to farmers, thus both resource users have been utilising same space for dual purposes. An example is Paikonkore grazing reserve in Gwagwalada area council of the FCT.
  • In other areas, community leaders and influential members took over grazing areas as economic main stay and collect money and other royalties from pastoralists to enable them graze on lands where farmers have cultivated their crops.
  • Expansion in rural farming results in the encroachment of stock routes, grazing corridors and blockage of resting and watering points.
  • Climate change, diminishing availability of land space for grazing, massive trans-border stock movement and infiltration, deterioration of existing grazing lands, scarcity of water, poor carrying capacities of grazing reserves, inadequate pasture, endemic diseases and parasites results in migration to greener areas occupied by farmers and other natural resource users such as fishermen.
  • The conflicts had further assumed alarming proportions with colouration of ethnic, religious and socio-political factors. The proliferation of small and light weapons have aided criminal elements to capitalize on the conflicts by engaging in cattle rustling, kidnapping, killing, maiming, raping, intra-pastoralists conflicts, disconnection between community leaders, farmers and pastoralists over access to grazing areas and the use of crop residues.
  • The recent emerging trend and prevalence of armed robbery amongst pastoralists, rural banditry, emergence of ethnic militia and use of mercenaries coupled with the use of dangerous drugs had all added to the combustion.
  • Again, we find situation where some desperate armed livestock herders destroy farms to deliberately cause conflicts. While others do so in revenge of their rustled animals, molestation, and death of their members as well as kidnapped and sexually harassed victims of their families. Similarly, they as well engage in other forms of criminality such as dispossessing people of their legitimate properties.
  • Another major finding is that, the federal, states and local governments, in the past set up different panels of inquiry into farmer – herders’ conflict without implementation of such panel reports, recommendations and or white paper.

Consequences of Nomads and Farmers Conflicts

The conflicts, negative socio-economic factors and criminality had impacted negatively on the overall livelihoods of both Pastoralists and Farmers. Consequently it has resulted in the followings:

  • Loss of lives and properties, destruction of schools and other infrastructural facilities.
  • Disruption of academic calendar and children and adults turned to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) as refugees.
  • Displacement of hundreds of thousands of members of communities, loss of means of livelihoods leading to increased poverty and loss of interest in education and mistrust by victims.
  • Vulnerability of women and children, fear instilled in the minds of people and communities, depression and traumatic experiences by victims.
  • The unbalanced role of the media in exaggerating reporting of the occurrence of these conflicts have further exacerbated the crisis and induced countless reprisal attacks in areas hitherto not been affected by the conflict
  • Inability to provide social services including education.

 Our Efforts

In our efforts to find lasting solutions to these unending conflicts, we went further to examine past efforts. In the process, we discovered that there has been series of attempts to resolve such incidences through consultative meetings, resolutions and recommendations. Such includes; meetings presided over by the Presidency, Governors, Local Government Chairmen, Community and Religious Leaders and Law Enforcement Agencies. These we found in states like Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau, Kaduna, Kano, Niger, Katsina, Zamfara, Oyo, Delta, Enugu, Taraba, Kwara to mention but a few. Equally, there was a recent international conference held in Kaduna under the auspices of the former Office of National Security Adviser (NSA) where issues relating to conflicts, education, economic and importance of grazing reserves, stock routes as well as security were discussed.

As part of the efforts the immediate past federal government, under the then Vice President, announced proposals to establish, demarcate and gazette grazing reserves with defined stock routes across the country. This has not been done from the National Commission for Nomadic Education end, we ensure that the scope of our educational programmes is not only for the children, but also for the youths, women and adults. The programmes include the followings:

  1. Adaptation, development and production of tailor – made curricula materials on National Values and Security Education that is currently implemented in our schools.
  2. Our advocacy, mobilization and sensitization efforts with community and religious leaders in engaging on security education and peace building were also intensified.
  3. The use of extension education and radio as a tool for the dissemination of useful information on peace, security and mutual coexistence through face to face campaigns, meetings, mass education partnerships with relevant agencies such as the ministry of agriculture and NGOs is ongoing.
  4. In collaboration with NMEC and SAME, adult and non-formal education was introduced to our youths, adults and women with a view to improve their levels of literacy, numeracy and livelihood skills.
  5. The introduction of Skills Training and Vocational Education and Empowerment Programmes has helped in increasing incomes and reducing poverty and inequality.
  6. The mounting of effective collaboration and partnership with governmental and non-governmental organisations such Federal and States Ministries of Agriculture, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), the Sultanate, Al-hayah and CORET have played a positive role to certain extent in reducing conflicts.

Our Position

Now that we have come to realise that enough efforts have not been in place, we are compelled to recommend the following

  • That governments at all levels – federal, state and local governments should come up with joint resolution on the effective identification of areas demarcated as grazing reserves, stock routes, resting and watering points in each local government and administer as such.
  • That in such areas demarcated, alternative land should be allocated to farmers for their farming activities and adequately compensated.
  • The need to strengthen the management of Grazing Reserves and stock routes with a view to gradual sedentarization for qualitative livestock practices. Introduction of tracking and biometric registration of livestock as well as the creation of cross-border buffer zones and development of satelite technology for mapping transhumant movements and potential flash points.
  • Government should ensure that no community leaders, influential members or militia should commercialise such areas so demarcated for grazing for their selfish interest.
  • That the Federal, State, Local Governments, NGOs, CBOs, CSOs, traditional institutions, leaders of pastoralist and farmers should be involved in peaceful resolution of conflicts and effective and transparent administration of justice to achieve an enduring peace between pastoralists and farming communities.
  • Regular consultations and mass education be mounted with the leadership of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) and other NGOs. The focus should be on peace building and not allowing their members to be used for political or ethnic interest as well as stop banditry, kidnapping or road blocking and other forms of public molestation.
  • Government, particularly ministries of Agriculture should go into their archives and make public all relevant resolutions that will help in bringing an end to these incessant conflicts as well as muster the political will to implement the resolutions.
  • The security agencies, states, local governments and stakeholders should be proactive in recognising and addressing security challenges involving pastoralists and farmers and should be more responsive to the conflicts between Farmer and Pastoralists .
  • The security agencies should as a matter of urgency dismantle and disband all ethnic militia masquerading as vigilante groups as well as increase joint community policing involving relevant stakeholders and increase the number of police personnel in the country.
  • Nigeria should collaborate with neighbouring countries such Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin in areas of information sharing concerning pastoralists and livestock movements to enhance security. Introduction of tracking and biometric registration of livestock as well as the creation of cross-border buffer zones and development of satelite technology for mapping transhumant movements and potential flash points.
  • There is need for a comprehensive livestock and agriculture sector review to identify, plan and implement short, medium and long term programmes as well as strengthen the Unified Extension Education Programmes that will address some of the inadequacies in the sector and integrate pastoralists and farmers into modern production systems and market linkages.
  • Pastoral communities should be mobilized and trained to adapt to modern and improved techniques of livestock production that will encourage sedentarization. This also requires the expansion, acquisition and making of the State governments to gazette, develop and protect all grazing areas/grazing reserves in their States and Local Governments.
  • Government at all levels should endeavour to adequately fund education of this group of people as it remains the major influence of change in attitude and behaviour.
  • There is need for the media to imbibe the culture of balanced reporting of conflicts involving farmers and herders to ensure peace and harmony in the country


This submission has unravelled the antecedents, immediate and remote cause of incessant conflicts between farmers and herders. Similarly the paper identified the consequences and brought to fore our modest efforts aimed at addressing such conflicts as well as proffered recommendations which if utilised will go a long way to solving the problem of incessant conflicts.

In conclusion, we are convinced that if the education of the nomads as well as their neighbours has been given proper and adequate attention, they would have been able to know their right from their left and live a life devoid of conflict.

Professor Rashid Aderinoye is the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Nomadic Education


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