President Goodluck Jonathan has urged Nigerians to join hands with the Federal Government to address the challenge of terrorists masquerading as pastoralists to cause mayhem in the country.
Jonathan made the call in Kaduna, on Monday, while declaring open an international conference on: Security and Development Challenges of Pastoralism in West and Central Africa.”
The President, represented by Vice President Namadi Sambo, said the insurgents were exploiting the conflict between pastoralists and farmers to perpetrate terror.
He said the intensity and dimension of the conflict over the last few years had reached an alarming proportion with attendant and unfortunate loss of lives and property.
“This conflict, unfortunately, has been predominant in Plateau, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Benue and Taraba States. Some other states in Northern Nigeria are also exposed to such challenges.
“Such challenges had also been reported in the southern part of the country.
“The state of conflict continues to pose serious threat to the nation’s security, stability and economic development, we are all aware of the threats posed to the nation by the activities of insurgents.”
According to him, terrorists are capitalising on the lingering pastoralists-farmers’ conflict to form a hybrid type of insurgency whereby they masquerade as pastoralists to wage war against the state.
The president expressed happiness that the objective of the terrorists had not been fully realised owing to the resilience of the pastoralists.
“Such a development, should it materialise, will be at a great cost to our country.”
Jonathan called on stakeholders, community and religious leaders and youth groups, to continue to promote the cause of peace rather than resort to conflict and violence, which served no useful purpose.
“It is, therefore, pertinent to state that issues affecting pastoralists, especially pertaining to the current clashes with farmers, is holistically being addressed.”
Jonathan said the Federal Government would continue to encourage the transformation of pastoralists into a more vibrant and better production system that would benefit pastoralists, farmers and the country in general.
He said this could not be achieved without the cooperation of all stakeholders.
He urged participants to come out with resolutions that would enhance development not only for pastoralists, but for the African continent in general.
“Let me assure that at the government level, we will study the outcome of this conference with a view to fostering dialogue as a means of resolving disputes.
“We urge participants to come up with actionable points that will help improve government policies and plans for a peaceful and prosperous Nigeria.”
The National Security Adviser retired Col. Sambo Dasuki, said federal government was collaborating with state governments and other stakeholders to tackle the frequent conflicts between pastoralists and farmers in the country.
Dasuki said measures had been put in place to bring a lasting solution to the crisis that had claimed many lives in different parts of the country.
He explained that government encouraged dialogue between the pastoralists and farmers to promote peaceful co-existence.
“I will like to commend the recent initiative of the Inspector-General of Police for bringing all aggrieved persons to a round table to discuss the way out.
“The crisis has nothing to do with religion against what other people think; some believe that Fulani’s are Muslims and farmers are non-Muslims, which is not the truth.
“When the cows come to your farms, they don’t differentiate a Muslim or Christian farm, they will just destroy them, but people will always attribute the incident to religion or ethnicity which is not so,” he said.
Dasuki challenged the media to help educate the people on the actual causes of the crisis.
The theme of the conference is: The Role of Pastoralists for Sustainable Peace and National Security.” [NAN]