CAUSES AND EFFECTS OF FARMERS-HERDERS’ CONFLICT IN NORTH CENTRAL NIGERIA: A STUDY OF BENUE AND PLATEAU STATES
Keywords:Farmers-Herders’Conflict, Historical Antecedents, Land Reserve Act, Triangulation, Territorial Integrity
In recent times, Nigeria has been confronted and confounded with a number of security challenges ranging from Boko-Haram insurgency in the north-east; armed banditry in the north-west; kidnapping for ransom in different parts of the country; the IPOB menace in the south-east in particular and the farmers-herders’ conflict in north-central Nigeria. These challenges have no doubt, unsettled Nigeria but more fundamentally, their combined effect poses serious threats to the country’s territorial integrity and overall development. In light of these monumental challenges, this paper assessed the causes and effects of farmers-herders’ conflicts in the north-central geopolitical zone of Nigeria with particular focus on Benue and Plateau States, which are the epicenters of the conflicts. Methodologically, the paper made use of documentary sources such as journals, books, official government reports as well as relevant internet and academic sources. The paper adopted a triangulation of the conflict and structural functionalist theories to provide theoretical direction for the work. The study identified a number of ecological, socio-economic and political factors as triggers of the lingering farmers-herders’ face-offs in the study area. It notes that the crisis is not altogether, a new phenomenon but one that is rooted in age-long historical antecedents. The paper concludes that the conflict has not only grown in intensity but the level of hostility between the warring parties has festered due to a number of unresolved immediate and remote causes. The paper recommends the resuscitation of the abandoned Land Reserve Act to provide for a fair, just and equitable accommodation of the interests of all the disputing parties as a lasting and sustainable solution to the endless farmers-herders’ conflicts in Nigeria.
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