AN ASSESSMENT OF THE GOVERNMENT’S RESPONSE TO FARMER-HERDER CONFLICT IN NORTH-CENTRAL NIGERIA: A STUDY OF BENUE AND NASARAWA STATES, 2012-2016
Keywords:Farmers, Herder, Government, Assessment, Response
Farmers and Pastoralists are two principal land resource users primarily involved in crop production and animal husbandry respectively. Historically, the two groups had hitherto co-existed in all manners of complementarities. However, effects of environmental degradation had forced the pastoralists out of their usual traditional ecological zones, migrating south-ward to the North-Central and Southern Nigeria in search of greener pasture. This phenomenon, combined with other factors such as population increase ignited a destructive competition for land resources, leading to the present perennial clashes between the two warring groups. Thus, the Nigerian government has severally been accused of being tepid, lackadaisical and indifference in the response to the conflict. Hence, this study assesses the level of the responses by the Nigerian government to the conflict in Benue and Nasarawa states in North-Central Nigeria. Survey research method was adopted with 350 questionnaires randomly administered to respondents in the purposively selected affected communities. In addition, Key Informant Interview and Focus Group Discussion techniques were equally employed to obtain empirical information. The secondary data was sourced from array of published documents including Journals, reports and newspapers. The quantitative and qualitative methods of data analysis were used to analyze the data obtained from the field. The findings reveal that the conflict has not been adequately responded to, by the Government. The study therefore recommends settlement schemes (grazing reserves/ranches) as viable options for a more sustainable solution to the conflict.
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