President Goodluck Jonathan has revealed that the activity of the radical Islamist sect- Boko Haram is negatively affecting the nation’s economic growth.
The president made this known on Monday in Kaduna at the opening of an international conference on security and development challenges of pastoralists in West and Central Africa, tagged: “The role of pastoralists in preventing insurgency and conflicts for sustainable peace and national security,” organised by the office of the National Security Adviser in the Presidency.
Jonathan, who was represented by Vice President Namadi Sambo, said that the sect activities had overstretched the nation’s security, adding that criminals have been masquerading as pastoralists to terrorise the country.
“The frequency of drought in the northern part of the country has enhanced constant movement towards the southern parts of the country in search of greener pastures. The movement has exposed pastoralists to a lot of challenges and loss of herds due to rustling, diseases and associated conflicts” Jonathan said.
“The intensity and diversity of conflicts over the last few years has reached an alarming proportion with the attendant loss of lives and property. This has unfortunately, been more predominant in Plateau, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Benue, and Taraba states. Other northern states are also not free from these security challenges.
“Such challenges have also been reported in some states in the southern parts of this country. The seed of conflict has continued to pose serious challenges to the nation’s security and economic growth. We are all aware of the threat posed to the nation by activities of the Boko Haram insurgents, some relying on the lingering pastoralists/farmers clash and masquerading as pastoralists to wage war against the state.
“Lately, this objective is yet to be fully realised owing to the resilience of the pastoralists and if that objective was to be realised, it would have been at a great cost to our country. I call on stakeholders, community leaders, religious leaders, youth groups and political leaders to continue to provide atmosphere for peace and brotherhood rather than resorting to conflict and violence which serves no useful purpose” Jonathan added.
The president said the plan of those he regarded as enemies of the state failed because of the spirit of resistance showed by the pastoralist.
The Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, in his remark, called for an urgent regional solution to the continuous clashes between farmers and pastoralists.
“There have been reports of some of these migrant foreign pastoralists carrying dangerous weapons and assault rifles” Adesina said. “This is not the usual pastoralists that we know in Nigeria, who for decades have lived in harmony with their communities, criminality has increased especially with the menace of cattle rustling. The issue is no longer an agricultural problem. It is a national security problem and we need an integrated set of solutions that include agriculture and security.”