Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi has said Nigeria loses $14 billion yearly to the lingering farmer-herdsmen clashes.
Fayemi spoke on Thursday while delivering a paper, titled: Farmer-Herder Conflicts in Nigeria: Implications for National Security, at the National Institute for Security Studies (NISS) Executive Management Course in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
The governor called for the enactment of appropriate states and Federal legislative frameworks and strategies to resolve farmer-herder conflicts and the attendant loss of lives and property.
He also canvassed the need for effective and strategic communications of government policies on this and other national issues to ensure that the right messaging reaches the citizenry and save the country from avoidable crises.
Fayemi said the extent of the challenge requires that government moves to unpack what has become a major threat to peaceful coexistence and food security in the country.
The governor noted that the fatalities recorded from the farmer-herder clashes outnumber those of the devastating insurgency in the Northeast and led to the loss of more lives in Nigeria than in the rest of West Africa.
Dr Fayemi, who called for the enactment of state and Federal laws to foster peaceful coexistence, despite the nation’s diversity, added that such legislations on regulating the conduct of farmers and herders must have a human face and must harness the country’s economic and socio-cultural potentials.
This is also in addition to ensuring that law breakers do not escape punishment, the governor said.
According to him, political leaders must bear in mind socio-cultural and political sensitivities while communicating policies with the citizenry.
This, Fayemi said, would make them avoid the risk of leaving those policies to faulty interpretations and susceptible to politicisation.
The lecture was attended by participants from the security and para-military agencies attending the Executive Intelligence Management Course at the institute.
The governor posited that beyond Nigeria, farmers-herders conflict has also become a threat to sub-regional and continental peace and stability for its devastating effects on human fatalities, livelihoods and the economy.
Other devastating effects, according to him, include banditry, cattle rustling, proliferation of small arms and light weapons as well as extreme violence.
He said: “As political and policymakers, we must be humble enough to admit that the messaging around the farmer-herder crisis, in terms of being mindful of sensitivities and the use of polarising terminologies and concepts, leaves room for improvement.
“From the evolution of the discourse on major issues, such as the anti-grazing laws, which have been passed into law in Ekiti, Benue and Taraba states, to colonies, the Ruga settlement phenomenon, the ranching options, we have not done enough to properly manage the various narratives or interpretations that emerged from this problem.”