By Milcah Tanimu
Stakeholders from Delta and Bayelsa states have emphasized the significance of addressing the recurring conflicts between farmers and herders through continuous dialogue and collaboration. these stakeholders stressed that fostering understanding and appropriate actions against wrongdoers could help mitigate these clashes.
Recognizing the interdependence of herders and farmers within the ecosystem, the stakeholders underscored the importance of preserving each other’s interests. They expressed concern that the continual destruction of farmlands by cattle could escalate tensions and hostility towards herders. As a solution, they urged residents to involve security agencies when infractions occur, rather than resorting to vigilantism.
Dr. Festus Ebimo, a lecturer at the Federal University Otuoke, Bayelsa, highlighted the need for swift action by security agencies to prevent the situation from escalating into a crisis. He raised concerns about the potential impact on communities like Elebele, Zarama, Nedugo-Agbia, and others, which may experience food shortages due to farmers abandoning their fields due to fear.
Chief Gift Oru, a community leader in Otuoke, emphasized the importance of proactive measures by security agencies to hold herders accountable for damaging farms. He referenced incidents where herders allegedly attacked locals, emphasizing the necessity of curbing such situations before they escalate into severe conflicts.
Chief Mrs. Duenize Ogon, a woman leader in Agudama-Epie community, stressed the role of both security agencies and the government in finding a lasting solution to the farmers-herders rift. She highlighted ongoing efforts by the Divisional Police Officer in Akenfa to collaborate with the community and encouraged patience as solutions are sought.
In Delta, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) intervened in the dispute between farmers and herders in Obetim-Uno community, Ndokwa East LGA. The NSCDC Commandant in the state, Suleiman Jimoh, outlined the command’s approach, which includes mediating between community leaders and herders. Jimoh highlighted the importance of holding herders accountable for crop destruction and urged communities to report incidents rather than taking matters into their own hands.
Overall, these stakeholders emphasize the need for dialogue, collaboration, and effective security measures to address the persistent challenges posed by clashes between farmers and herders in the region.