July 14, 2024

Kogi inaugurates conflict prevention committee for farmers, herders

To ensure peaceful coexistence between farmers and herders, the Kogi State governor, Alhaji Usman Ahmed Ododo, has inaugurated a 17-member Conflict Prevention and Resolution Committee.

Governor Ododo, who inaugurated the committee in Lokoja on Thursday, charged them to check, regulate and monitor the movement of herdsmen and their livestock along the stock routes to prevent farmer-herder clashes.

The governor, while speaking at the inauguration ceremony organised by the Kogi Livestock Productivity and Resilience Support Project, Kogi L-PRES, listed the terms of reference of the committee to include guiding the project on tracing and demarcating stock routes and grazing reserves.

Represented by Dr Olufemi Bolarin, Kogi L-Pres State Project Coordinator, Ododo, added that the committee’s assignment further includes enlightening farmers and herders on the importance of each other to society and peaceful coexistence.

Similarly, the committee is to encourage disputing parties to resolve their differences amicably by facilitating settlements of disputes between farmers and herders, as well as determining compensation for any party who suffers losses.

The committee was further charged by the governor to enlighten farmers on the need to evacuate farm produce within a period as well as to access compensation in respect of loss or damage to farm produce or livestock.

The committee’s function, Governor Ododo added, is to also ensure that farmers do not encroach on any existing tract leading to a stream, river or watercourse to water livestock.

“This committee is the nucleus that will enlighten and communicate with the farmers as well as the herders. Mind you, we are going to have a launch of the National Animal Traceability and Identification very soon, sponsored by the Federal Government in Kogi State.

“This is just a step in the process of peacebuilding. The committee should be alive to their duties and know their functions as spelt out by adopting a template that will reduce crises,” he stated.

The Kogi State Commissioner for Agriculture and Food Security, Timothy Ojomah, said solving conflict between farmers and herders is key to sustainable food security.

He described the inauguration as timely, saying it was coming at a time when the state was investing heavily in the agriculture sector.

He charged the committee to take their job seriously, stressing that a lot of confidence has been reposed in them.

Ojomah, who is the chairman of the committee, said: “Parts of the mandate of the committee is identifying the grazing routes, areas that animals will take to drink water and the farmlands.”

In his presentation titled “Dialogue in Pursuit of Peace between Farmers-Herders Communities,” Dr Olugbenro Olajuyigbe, Director of Emergency and Risk Alert, said to reduce farmers-herders clashes, the state must adopt a workable strategy.

He suggested the adoption of anonymous mechanisms, hearing the perspectives of farmers, groups setting up local government platforms and conflict diaries, among others, as ways of nipping conflict in the bud.

Olugbenro called for the need to establish a national peace dialogue committee, establish an inclusive security architecture and strengthen the capacities of security agencies to be able to curtail conflicts arising from farmers and herders in the country.

He listed historical, cultural, ecological, economic, political, vulnerability, weaponisation and radicalisation to violent extremism as some reasons for farmer-herder conflicts in Nigeria.

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