Participants at the State Partnership for Agriculture (SPA) workshop on conflict resolution in Keffi on Monday advised stakeholders to adopt a “win-win” approach to resolve the protracted herdsmen-farmers conflicts in the country.
The training, jointly organised by Technoserve and Synergos Nigeria, was aimed at contributing to ongoing government efforts to end herders-farmers conflicts in Benue, Kaduna and Kogi States.
Jammai Ambi, Deputy Director, Agricultural Services, Kaduna State Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, said that the adoption of a “win-win’’ approach would strengthen efforts to stem clashes between farmers and herdsmen in the states.
He said that if the approach was adopted and effectively applied, it would enhance dialogue between the two parties and promote peaceful co-existence in the affected communities.
Mr Farouk Aliyu, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in Kaduna State Command, said that if the approach was adopted, there would be no victor and no vanquished at the end of the day, as it would substantially ease tension between herders and farmers.
He said that the police always preferred the use of the proposed approach in their activities because it often provided permanent solutions to conflicts, while promoting peace in the society.
Mr Nuhu Aminu, the Chairman of All Farmers Association (AFAN) in Kaduna State, said that the adoption of the “win-win’’ approach would facilitate efforts to restore peace and harmony among the farmers and the pastoralists in the conflict-ridden areas.
He urged stakeholders, particularly policymakers in the affected states, to support traditional and religious leaders in the affected communities to resolve the herders-farmers conflict through the approach.
Aminu noted that the conflict had adversely affected food production in Kaduna State and called for urgent efforts to end the conflict.
A cross-section of participants from Kogi and Benue, who spoke at the end of event, said that they were now better equipped with the requisite skills that would aid efforts to deal with the farmers-herdsmen clashes.
They, however, called on the federal, state and local governments to support the initiatives aimed at addressing herders-farmers clashes in the affected areas.
Speaking, Mr Obosi Philip, Project Coordinator for SPA, said that the training of 30 persons in conflict resolution mechanisms was aimed at complementing the Federal Government’s efforts to tackle herders-farmers clashes.
He said that the selection of the workshop participants was based on the critical roles they played in the agriculture sector and in formulating government policies on conflict resolution.
He said that the participants were drawn from Benue, Kaduna and Kogi states, the Nigerian Police Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and the media.
He said that the training was on modules that would help in resolving the herders-farmers conflict, which had claimed several lives, while affecting food production.
“The crisis may likely also affect livelihoods of communities and the contribution of the agriculture sector to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“The situation had also threatened the nation’s food security, as many farmers had abandoned their farmlands.
“We deemed it fit to organise this workshop to re-orientate decision makers in the agriculture sector as well as security officers.
“We trained them on how to mediate and bring about peaceful resolution of conflicts in the areas.
“The skills will also enable the participants to mediate in conflict situations in rural areas because the herders-farmers conflicts are affecting the overall agricultural production and key value chains in those states,” Phillip said.
Also speaking, Dr Joseph Shopade, a Technoserve consultant, said that the training had empowered government officials with the requisite skills to address conflict situations.
He said that the training would facilitate efforts by the critical stakeholders to deal with the contentious issues that engendered the conflicts.
Also, Dr Stephen Faleti, a Research Fellow in Conflict Resolution in the University of Ibadan, said that certain conflict escalation dynamics were ignored at the onset of the herders-farmers conflicts in the areas.
Faleti said that there must have been early warning signals which were either ignored or not addressed in good time, adding that this had led to the escalation of the farmers-herdsmen clashes.
Prof. Ayo Hammed, a Counselling and Personnel Psychologist, however, underscored the need for a proper understanding of the rationale behind the conflicts.
He called for involvement of primary and secondary parties in efforts to find permanent solution to the farmers-herdsmen crisis in the three states.
Hammed, however, said that every conflict provided novel opportunities for the development of the society.