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ASUU blames government for herders, farmers clashes

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ASUU National President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi

The University of Jos Branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has blamed the Federal Government for the festering of the clashes between herdsmen and farmers in parts of the country by its management of the crisis.

During a public lecture yesterday in Joss and entitled Herdsmen/Farmers Clashes Today: Ecology, Class and Categorical Politics in Contemporary Nigeria, ASUU accused the media and the people in leadership of preventing the airing of certain opinions.

The chief speaker, Prof. Omotoye Olorode of the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State held that though the menace was not peculiar to Nigeria, he, however, argued that the ecological and climate change crises do not exhaust the causes of these conflicts.

He said: “I am trying to show on the one hand that the herdsmen-farmers narrative in the public domain in Nigeria today is compounded by ethnic nationalist and religious anti-parties that are being manipulated and promoted for political mobilisation.

These elements of the conflict are typical when a ruling class is faced with the possibility of open resistance and complex with the oppressed class of the society.

“So, we must put this thing in the context of the neo-liberal crisis in the world today and especially how this crisis affects peripheries like the Republic of Nigeria.

The neo-liberal crisis assumes the particular form in agriculture and agricultural development and land use especially in regards to import of food, agricultural inputs and machinery, and massive intervention of international finance institutions like the World Bank, multi-national corporations etc.”

He noted that the Agricultural Development Programmes (ADPs), especially in the areas where they were initially established, have also raised the value of land which has led to the large-scale land appropriation from pure peasant households in favour of rich peasants, traditional rulers, bureaucrats, top military officers and business tycoons who have taken this opportunity to become large scale land owners.

“In this way, millions of peasant households have been pauperised or their holdings reduced to such a size that it becomes uneconomic to cultivate,” he stressed.

Olorode pointed out that the effect of climate change in far Northern Nigeria had assumed such a magnitude that the minimum vegetation cover you see now are Zamfara, Sokoto, Kano, Yola, Jigawa, Bauchi, Taraba, Maiduguri and Adamawa states that have already fallen below 10 per cent as against the recommended 25 per cent ecological cover.

He noted that that there was a fundamental economic crisis of access to land on which the majority of Nigerians, livestock producers and crop producers belong.

Olorode went on: “Politically, we need to think outside the box. The ruling class will politicise this crisis and its clash because that is the world they live on.

So, this thing we see in Nasarawa State and some other places is purely a natural resource conflict. It happens in Taraba, Benin, Kwara, Southern Kaduna, and recently Plateau and others.”


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