CONFLICT RESOLUTION IN NIGERIA THE PROSPECTS AND CHALLENGES FOR PEACE. A CASE STUDY OF FULANI HERDSMEN AND THE BENUE STATE
1.1 Background to the Study
Land is probably the most important resource needed by Man for his day-to-day existence. All human livelihoods and activities are directly or indirectly dependent on land at varying thresholds. But land connotes different meanings to the various user groups. For instance, builders, manufacturers, fishermen, miners, hunters and farmers have different specifications in their requirements for land for their production/services. Out of all user groups, agricultural production perhaps exhibits the highest form of sophistication in its use of land. Not only must agricultural land be capable of supplying crop-specific nutrients and water; soil temperature, structure, texture and PH levels are inevitable requisites in the choice of land for agricultural production activities. Yet, land is a limited, somewhat scarce resource with both artificial and natural access and usage barriers (Rashid 2012).
These factors of specifications, multifarious uses of land and its limitedness have necessitated that various shades of competition for its utilization must ensue. Thus, competition for land between and within various user groups has been the bane of mankind since time immemorial. Non-agricultural user groups compete with agricultural user groups on one hand, while there are various levels of intra-user group competition on the other. Indeed, competition for land use is becoming keener and fiercer, largely due to increasing human and animal populations (Richard 1976). It has been illustrated that increasing population growth rate has continued to exert great pressure on available land resources with which to some extend results in conflict (Fiki and Lee, 2004).
One most important problem confronting world peace today is the manifestation of conflicts in special dimensions across the globe. From Europe to america, Africa to Asia, conflicts are common phenomena (Marshall and Gurr, 2005 in Jeong, 2008). war has been defined in special approaches via exceptional pupils. as an example, Ekong (2003) defined struggle as that shape of social interaction wherein the actors are looking for to reap scarce praise through removing or weakening their contenders. Folger et al. (2009) described conflict as the interaction of interdependent folks that perceive incompatible goals and interference from each other in reaching thosegoals. Gyong (2007) described conflict because the battle for dominance or manage of 1 group via the other in any such way as to subjugate or even dispose of the opponent.
Nigeria has experienced and is still experiencing conflicts of grave proportions amongst numerous ethnic and religious groups across the states. Those conflicts appreciably vary in size and the groups involved. It was observed by Momale (2003) that, even as some conflicts arise among same aid consumer organization along with between one farming community and another, others arise between exceptional consumer organizations consisting of among herders and farmers or between foresters and farmers. Adisa (2012) found that the farmers-herdsmen warfare has remained the maximum preponderant resource-use conflict in Nigeria.
The Fulani herdsmen brutality that was experienced lately in Benue state was a result of fighting space for grazing land. It is evident from the instructions from the president of Nigeria that each stated must provide a grazing space for the Fulani herdsmen; which resulted to conflict in most of the rural areas in Nigeria as a result of high level of illiteracy and greed.
According to Berger (2003) stated that there is a need for grazing movements to access pasture resources across regions in order to ensure food security for the herds. Hence, pastures, woody vegetation, water resources and land are taken as a common property resource.
Most of the local government area in Benue State has had a terrible experience lately as a result of crises over grazing space. It was reported that the complex land-use system that has changed markedly over time, has culminated in the present day tension and conflicts between herds man and host communities.
Social and economic factors continue to provoke violent conflicts among the Fulani pastoralists and farmers. The intensity and variations of the conflicts largely depend on the nature and type of the user groups where the pastoralists graze. These conflicts have constituted serious threats to the means of survival and livelihoods of both the farmers and pastoralists and what both groups are tenaciously protecting (Abbas, 2009), hence the urgent need for effective conflict resolution for both parties.
Miller (2003) posits that conflict resolution is “a variety of approaches aimed at terminating conflicts through the constructive solving of problems, distinct from management or transformation of conflict”. For Mial and Wood House (2001), by conflict resolution, it is expected that the deep rooted sources of conflict are addressed and resolved, and behaviour is no longer violent, nor are attitude hostile any longer, while structure of the conflict has been changed. In the understanding of Mitchel and Banks (1996), conflict resolution refers to an outcome in which the issues in an existing conflict are satisfactorily dealt with through a solution that is mutually acceptable to the parties, selfsustaining in the long run and productive of a new, positive relationship betweenparties that were previously hostile adversaries; and process or procedure by which such an outcome is achieved (p. 21).
In all this, one understands conflict resolution to imply that conflict is bad hence it is something that should not be encouraged. It also assumes that conflict is a short-term phenomenon that can be “resolved” permanently through mediation or other intervention processes. Best (2005) putting these ideas together, concludes that conflict resolution connotes a sense of finality, where the parties to a conflict are mutually satisfied with the outcome of a settlement.
1.2 Problem Statement
The rate of the incessant conflicts between Fulani herdsmen and farmers made the Local, States and the Federal Government of Nigeria to employ different mechanisms in order to end the menace. For instance, the Federal Government of Nigeria has commenced the construction of grazing reserves, and has clearly delineated stock routes covering 1,000,000 hectares in Jangere village of Benue State (NAN in Daily Trust,
September 22, 2009).
According to 2009 official report of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and WaterResources, Nigeria has officially demarcated 4125 grazing reserves or routes. Out of thisnumber, only one third is put in use, whereas 270 grazing reserves have been put intocultivation. In order to curb farmers-pastoralists‟ clashes, the federal government inSeptember 2009 carried out demarcation of a grazing route running through the central statesof Nasarawa, Benue and Plateau. Other grazing routes also marked out and demarcated werestarted across Benue and Bauchi States, spanning across Abuja. Further grazing routes were also demarcated from Sokoto in the Northwest to Oyo State in the Southwest as well as another 2,000km grazing route from Adamawa State in the Northeast to Calabar in the Niger Delta (IRIN,2009).All these were done to strengthen the relationship between the two groups, but the relationship keeps on degenerating. The question not yet answered is why have all these efforts and resources not produced the desired result? What is clear to all, however, is that something fundamental is amiss. Could it be the defective public policy, in some cases, the lack of policy or the failure of the Fulani to avail themselves to modernization (Iro, 2000).
Similarly, Tonah (2006) opined that, farmer-herder differences are not only seen as resource conflict but are also sometimes represented as ethnic conflict involving the two groups. Since herder and farmer groups have very different values, customs, physical and cultural characteristics, disputes between them are frequently characterized as ethnic conflict. The task here is to examine some of the factors responsible for the conflicts and also examine the roles played by institutions in managing the conflicts between crop farmers and cattle herders in Benue State.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The broad objective of the study was to analyse the challenges to conflict resolution conflictsand the roles played by institutions towards the resolution of the conflicts in Benue State.
The specific objectives of the study were to:
- describe the socio-economic characteristics of the respondents in the study areas;
- examine the challenges to conflict resolution between crop farmers and cattle herders in the State;
- examine the institutions involved in the management and resolution of the conflict between farmers and Fulani herders in the study area, and
- identify and describe the types of conflict resolution mechanisms employed by these institutions.
1.4 Research Questions
The study therefore provided answers to the following questions:
- What are the socio-economic characteristics of crop farmers and cattle herders in Benue State?
- What are the challenges to conflict resolution between crop farmers and herders in the State?
- Which institutions are involved in resolving conflict between farmers and herders in the study area?
iv What are the types of conflict resolution mechanisms employed by these institutions?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The increasing number of reports of violence at this occupational boundary makes understanding herders-farmers conflict an urgent task. We need to know not just why friction begins, but also why and how, as some conflicts unfold they articulate with religious, ethnic, and political conditions (Morizt, 2010).
In addition, there is the need to comprehend how the „farmers and herders‟ on the one hand and the „community and the state‟ on the other have viewed such conflicting issues and the strategies put in place to ameliorate or even resolve them. Until the sources of such conflicts are clearly identified, understood, managed and resolved, such incidences will continue to show their ugly heads at the slightest provocation (Abbas,
2009).Conflict between farmers and herders could be reduced or averted when Government policies are clearly formulated and implementation framework aimed at setting a guiding principle on future cooperation between the two warring groups is established.
The study examined the perception of the two different groups on land usage and access to natural resources which were basically the main cause of the conflict, so as to enable further understanding of the issue from the viewpoint of the conflict actors. It, therefore, provides a sort of communication platform that will enable bottom-up flow of information from the grassroots to the general public and the policy making unit of the government.
Although scholars such as, Abubakar (2012), Kehinde (2011), Ofuoku and Isife (2009) and Adebayo and Olaniyi (2008), have written on land resource conflict and considerable research has been devoted to farmer-herder conflict in particular, the most recent security challenges that leads to the escalation of violence of different dimension across the country, has prompted the need for a fresh investigation. This will complement the efforts of the other researchers.This being the case, it is hoped that the study has provided the Government, Non-governmental organizations and the general public with relevant and up-to-date information on challenges to conflict resolution and efforts of various institutions towards the resolutions of conflicts between them.It has also provided the required information on the current status of farmer-herder conflict as well as helps contribute to the existing literature on global conflicts with specific emphasis on land resource use conflicts. Finally, the best ways to improve the relationship between these important groups form the concern of this study.
1.6 scope of study
The scope of the study is limited to examiningThe Prospects and Challenges for conflict resolution in Nigerian with specific reference to the herdsmen-farmers conflict in Benue state