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Stemming the Tide of Farmer-Herder Conflict in the Middle-Belt

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By Chris Gaga

Even as most Nigerians rolled out the drums in commemoration of the country’s 59 years as an independent nation, a section of the country still hold the view that there wasn’t much to celebrate after all.

Although the country may not have lived to the fullest dreams of its heroes past, it has nevertheless remained a united, indivisible, progressive and soverign entity regardless of the numerous challenges threatening the corporate existence of its people.

No doubt, in the past 59 years of the country’s independence, wars have been fought, governments have been overthrown, political independence may have been won, economic progress and development achieved in different stratas  as well as the challenges therewith.

However, the wave of terrorism, farmer-herder conflicts, kidnapping, militia, and the other criminal activities that have infiltrated our geographical regions, challenging the country’s peace, security and unity remain a   core national agenda.

Is it the Boko Haram insurgence in the country’s north east?, the Niger-Delta militia, kidnappings?, or most particularly the farmer herder conflicts in Nigeria’s Middle Belt ?, religious and ethnic crisis?, the challenges appear daunting.

In the Middle – Belt region and particularly, Benue State, messages, or wishes that the farmer-herder conflicts and other related crimes be squashed to allow the sweet wave of peace flourish unceasingly again in the region, featured most prominently on the country’s 59th Independence Day anniversary.

A former Permanent Secretary in the Benue State Civil Service, Engr. Peter Torjum in a chat with DAILY ASSET in Makurdi, called on the government to ensure the return of all displaced persons from the conflicts to their their ancestral homes. Most victims of the farmer -herder conflicts have been in IDPs’ camps. He said as the country attained 59 years as an independent state, the government needed to be more proactive especially on issues that bother on the lives, security and safety of citizens.

“At 59, Nigeria has achieved alot in terms of education, infrastructural development, in terms of conflict resolution, but you see, the herder-farmer crisis is a very critical thing which the federal government has tried to profer solutions, but needs to do more to salvage the situation of Benue State so that these people that have been displaced, the IDPs can go home.

” In Kwande LGA, where I hail from from, five council wards have been displaced since 2012. Right now, , the Fulani herdsmen are grazing, their cattle are destroying crops and nobody is doing anything about it.
We have the open grazing prohibition law, but I don’t know whether it is implemented only in cities, because in the rural areas, the herdsmen are still grazing in the open,” he stressed .

He advised the federal government to do more, to rehabilitate those displaced farmers so there will security for farmers to go back to their ancestral homes.

Hajia Hauwa Isah, the President, Women Wing of the Jama’atul Nasiru Islam (JNI), under Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, in a chat advised that everything thing should be done by the government to preserve the economic b activities of both the farmers and herders.

Hajiah Hauwa was optimistic that if government would collaborate with stakeholders like the International NGO working for the transformation of peace in Benue and the North Central region, the conflict will be a thing of the past.

She called on the government to return power to the people especially in situations of crisis such as the farmer – herder crisis, noting that when community leaders and it’s people  are empowered to play critical roles in crisis situations, the chances of resolving the crisis would be brighter.

“We give glory to God for allowing us with this year’s Independence Day celebration. For the first time in Benue state, we have a  serious crisis on ground – the farmer-herder conflict which by the grace of God is taking a different dimension  of peace in the communities.

“We are happy that Search for Common Ground came in with a program to enlighten, educate and bring the two parties together to see how they can resolve the issue of farmer – herder conflict in Benue State and we believe that as stakeholders in this conflict, we are making progress and we believe that one day it shall come to pass, because  we need to live together, tolerate one another, live in peace and harmony, she stated.

“Benue is a lovely state, a peaceful state, a place of harmony, we just pray that things will take rightful shape and I appreciate Search for Common Ground for putting in more efforts to make sure that this crisis is resolved.

“The Government of Nigeria as much as possible should remember that they are government of the people, voted in by the people.  So when community issues concerning the people come up, let them support community leaders to take care of their problem. People in the communities know their problems better, they know where it pinches them more. So if government is going 2 come in, its for them to assist,” she said.

Benue state Governor, Samuel Ortom in his Independence message called for peace and purposeful unity if the critical security challenges confronting different regions of the country must be tackled. This peace crusade especially, signals a genuine crave for harmonious co-existence amongst both the herders and farmers.

Governor Samuel Ortom insisted that, “only sustained synergy between the Federal Government and states, as well as other stakeholders can lead to victory against terrorism and other criminal acts in parts of the country.”

The governor’s emphasis that criminality will be fought with vehemence is another pointer to entrenching peace

“There will be no hiding place for enemies of peace as he will not surrender the state to criminals.

His reaffirmation that his government  was committed  to addressing youth restiveness by developing the agriculture value chain to engage young people in rewarding ventures has widely commended by stakeholders

Suffice to say that, it may not be Uhuru yet, but Nigeria’s 59 years as one indivisible nation despite  is an indication of remarkable progress. The country may not have gotten to where it is expected to be, but it is definitely not where it was at independence in 1960.

While our leaders strive to keep Nigeria one amidst the common challenge of insecurity, it is imperative for all citizens to begin to see themselves as key stakeholders in the peace project of the country

President Muhamadu Buhari’s call for the unity of the country during his Independence Broadcast on Tuesday be taken seriously by his administration. He should follow his speech with decisive actions on those issues and elements that tend to tear this nation apart, one of which is the farmer-herder conflict.

The President’s conviction that Nigeria will emerge stronger from its present challenges especially that of insecurity has rekindled the hopes of many citizens, but more action  and less is what the nation needs.

JUDICIARY

Emirship tussle: Court rule against Kano govt, others challenging jurisdiction

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The Federal High Court sitting in Kano has on Thursday, ruled against Kano State government and others challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the issue of fundamental human rights instituted by a Kano traditional holder, Aminu Babba Dan’Agundi in connection with the Emirship tussle.

Recall that the applicant, who is the traditional title holder of Sarkin Dawaki Babba of Kano emirate, Aminu Babba Dan’Agundi had approached the court seeking for enforcement of his fundamental human rights claimed to have been violated by government action in the Emirship tussle.

The respondents in the suit are Kano State Government as 1st respondent, Kano State House of Assembly (2nd), Speaker of Kano State House of Assembly (3rd), Attorney General of Kano State (4th), Kano Commissioner of Police (5th), Inspector General of Police, IGP (6th), NSCDC and DSS as 7th and 8th respondents respectively.

Delivering the ruling on jurisdiction on Thursday, the presiding judge, Justice Abdullahi M. Liman, ruled that the court has jurisdiction to entertain the matter concerning the applicant’s fundamental human rights.

Justice Liman gave the ruling relying on Section 42 sub-section 1 and Section 315 of the 1999 constitution as amended.

However, reacting to the ruling, the Counsel to the 2nd and 3rd respondents, Ibrahim Isah Wangida, said he will meet with his client to decide the next line of action whether or not they will take the option to appeal the ruling in the Court of Appeal.

Meanwhile, the judge, Justice Liman, adjourned the matter till Friday for hearing of all pending applications saying the case is too sensitive for it to be dragged for too long.

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FEATURES

Engaging Nollywood to Showcase Nigeria’s Tourism Endowment

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By Joshua Olomu

All over the world film is more than an entertainment outlet. It is used as a tool for shaping opinions, driving national narratives to the larger world and projecting a nation’s cultures, economic, technological and other advantages.

Besides its entertainment value, one area where the motion picture is intentionally applied is as a tool for global marketing and advertisement of the tourism sector.

Films are unique platforms for promoting tourism, offering a blend of entertainment and destination marketing that can captivate audiences and inspire travel.

Some of the most admired and visited tourist attractions and destinations, such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Great Wall of China attracted global attention through the power of the visual media.

The wonder of the screen can make tourists travel from around the world to visit the Statue of Liberty in New York and the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt.

Films are powerful tools for promoting tourism by bringing destinations to life, showcasing their unique attributes, and inspiring audiences to visit the real-world locations they have seen on screen.

Nigeria’s film industry, known as Nollywood, is globally recognised as the second largest film producer in the world, turning out over 2,500 movies yearly.

It is only surpassed by Bollywood of India, even though Nollywood does not rake in as much income annually as the others, it is renowned for its rich and unique storytelling attributes.

Before COVID-19 pandemic erupted Hollywood contributed $504 billion to the U.S. GDP. The figure represents at least 3.2 per cent of the goods and services portion of GDP.

Conversely, according to a research firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Nigeria’s film industry contributed only $660 million to Nigeria’s GDP in 2021.

One of those who think Nollywood can do better in terms of revenue generation for the country is the Vice-Chancellor, University of Abuja, Prof AbdulRasheed Na’Allah.

“Nollywood can turn around the fortunes of the Nigerian economy. The government must understand that now.

“It is in the interest of the government to know that film industries are multi-million-dollar ventures. They can create wealth.

“From all over the world, people are watching Nollywood. People are beginning to know Nigeria through Nollywood.

“Is it our music, film, cultural dance, or language? We are taking the world by surprise, and because it is going to Japan, China and America, it is creating foreign reserves for Nigeria”, he said.

He spoke at a three-day conference in Abuja, yesterday, in honour of visiting lecturer, Prof Onookome Okome of the Department of English and Film Studies, University of Alberta, Canada, the VC tasked the Federal Government to support Nollywood.

Just like the Nigerian music brand, Afrobeat, Nollywood products have evolved to become global brands that are known and accepted across the world.

In recent times, the industry has produced blockbusters that have been screened in international cinemas, nominated and screened at prestigious festivals such as the Toronto Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, among others.

Therefore, it can be argued that Nollywood, as one of Nigeria’s best exports to the world, has not been adequately engaged in showcasing the nation’s rich tourism potential to attract inbound tourists.

Nigeria is known for its rich historical and cultural heritage, breath-taking landscapes and diverse wildlife, which position it as a potential choice destination for tourists seeking unique experiences and adventures.

The country is home to nature tourism, with a lot of natural attractions, including lush rainforest, Savannas, wetlands and unique flora and fauna, spread across its six geopolitical zones.

This diverse ecosystem  offers interesting  activities  to tourists, such as  bird-watching,photography,star-gazing,camping,hunting,fishing,hiking and games viewing.

However, with these amazing tourism attractions spread across the country, beside various cultural fiesta and celebrations, Nigeria is yet to be classified as a global tourism destination.

In the 2019 UNTWO World Tourism Ranking, Nigeria was not among the first 10 countries in Africa, with Egypt, Morocco and South Africa standing at first, second and third positions in that order.

Primarily, this ranking is based on the number of visitors and the income generated from the sector within the period.

Perhaps, inadequate packaging, promotion and effective marketing of the nation’s tourism attractions to the global market is the major drawback to the sector, and this  is where Nollywood should be engaged by relevant authorities.

There is a need for synergy between industry players, and this is where the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC) and the Nigerian Tourism Development Authority (NTDA) need to show political will, patriotism and commitment.

NFC has the mandate to establish a robust framework for fostering a thriving and enduring film industry and cinema culture in Nigeria, and thereby actively contributing to the socio-economic advancement of the nation.

One of the NFC’s cardinal functions is to produce films for domestic consumption and export, and this is what puts it in the best position to engage stakeholders in Nollywood.

NTDA is responsible for the planning, supervision, development and marketing of tourism in Nigeria, and it has the duty to encourage people living in Nigeria to take their holidays therein and people from abroad to visit Nigeria.

These agencies need to join hands to initiate a pilot project and engage relevant guilds in Nollywood including   the Screen Writers Association of Nigeria, Association of Movie Producers and the Actors Guild of Nigeria.

At the ideation stage of the project, a script should be written with a storyline that set historical and cultural   landmarks, parks and wildlife as locations for such a film.

Other tourist locations such as Yankari Game Reserves,  Ikogosi warm spring, Erin Ijesha water fall, Ojukwu Bunker, among others should as well  be captured.

The various cultural festivals such as Argungu Fishing Festival, Osun Osogbo Festival, the Calabar Carnival and others should be reflected in such projects.

The Federal Government, through its relevant ministries, should as well come up with an incentive mechanism for filmmakers whose projects tend to promote the nation’s tourism landscape.

These collaborations between filmmakers and tourism authorities will consequently   lead to joint marketing efforts where film trailers can be paired with tourism advertisements, and locations can offer incentives for film crews to shoot there.

There is no doubt, if well engaged, Nollywood films will introduce audiences to locations they might not have known about, effectively serving as advertisements for these places.

Such films will also highlight the cultural aspects of a location, from food and festivals to traditions and architecture, and this cultural exposure can evoke viewers’ interest in experiencing these elements first hand.

As Nollywood   films take a more dominant place on the global stage, using them to highlight the rich tourism attractions that abound in the country will create emotional connections with viewers.

This will attract both domestic and inbound tourists to locations which will ultimately bring  sustainable tourism  development and make the sector a major source of national revenue.

To be a vehicle for selling Nigeria’s tourism potential to the international community, Nollywood should take the positives from the country.

Then Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, addressed this concern at Leadership Master Training for Nollywood Celebrities and Stakeholders training under the platform of Actors’ Guild of Nigeria (AGN).

“Beyond the questions of economics and profit, there is the issue of the critical role of Nollywood in influencing culture, defining national character, and promoting national identity.

 “You also have a responsibility to tell the best stories of our beloved country’’, said Gbajabiamila, now Chief of Staff to President Bola Tinubu.

The Minister of Art, Culture and Creative Economy, Hannatu Musawa, acknowledges the enormity of the task but remains upbeat about what the industry can do.

“We are uniquely positioned in this great nation, endowed with an abundance of human capital and boundless possibilities.

“Our collective aim is singular, and it is bold: to position Nigeria as the world’s culture, creativity and entertainment capital“, she said.

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NEWS

Kano Emirship Tussle: Ribadu, Yusuf Meet in Abuja

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Kano State Governor Abba Yusuf on Thursday met with National Security Adviser Mallam Nuhu Ribadu in Abuja where they discussed issues concerning the Kano Emirship  tussle.

This was contained in a statement issued by Yusuf’s Director-General, Media and Publicity, Malam Sunusi Tofa, in Kano.

Tofa said the meeting was prompted by recent events in Kano following the dissolution of five emirates and the restoration of Emir Muhammad Sanusi II.

Tofa said that the two leaders deliberated on various matters relating to state and national development as well as peaceful coexistence in the state.

Emir Ado Bayero is in court challenging the reinstatement of Emir Muhammad Sanusi  II by the Kano State government.

While Sanusi is operating from the Emir’s Palace, Bayero is holding forth at the Emir’s Guest House.

Tofa quoted Yusuf as describing the meeting as fruitful and emphasised the critical role of NSA in ensuring peace in the country.

“I briefed him on the recent developments in Kano, and we discussed ways to promote national security and development,” he Tofa quoted Yusuf as saying.

The meeting comes after the NSA was accused of meddling in the Kano crisis, which he swiftly denied.

The Kano State Deputy Governor, Alhaji Aminu Gwarzo, had apologised to the NSA for the allegation, attributing it to flawed intelligence.

The meeting coincided with Sanusi’s sixth day at the Kano palace, where a significant majority of district heads and kingmakers have pledged their allegiance to him.

The state government has assured that Kano remains peaceful and tranquil, urging residents to continue their regular activities in compliance with the laws of the land.

Sanusi Makes First Appointment amid Emirship Tussle

In as much as the controversy trailing Kano Emirate tussle continues, the 16th Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II had on Thursday made his first appointment.

This was coming barely a week after he was reinstalled as the Emir.

Sanusi, the former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, approved the appointment of a new Ward Head of Kofar Mazugal, Hamisu Sani in Dala Local Government area of the state.

The Emir called on the new ward Head to ensure peaceful coexistence among the subjects of the area and contribute his quota towards the development of the state as a whole.Earlier, district heads and personalities such as delegations from religious and market bodies paid homage to Emir Sanusi at the palace.

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