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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.

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“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.

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“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.

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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.

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The Agony of Ikarama Community

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FROM TAYESE Mike, Yenagoa

Ikarama is a Community under Okordia Clan in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State which is also blessed with crude oil in large quantity that have brought untold hardship and penury to them. The oil that suppose to be a blessing is more or less a curse as a community with less than hundred thousand people cannot feel the impact of their God given resources.

What a sad and pathetic situation and the agony Ikarama people are facing might not be too different from other oil and gas producing communities across the Niger Delta. Why Ikarama case is so peculiar is because the community has witnessed the highest frequency of oil spill since 1991 and till date  not much has been done to clean up the environment and proper remediation carried out within and around  the community and its environment.

The peaceful Ikarama Community that have been enjoying agrarian life in time past started their problem when oil was discovered in 1964 and from that time till date every valuable things to the Community have virtually been eroded due to the activities of the multinationals.

Shell Petroleum Development Company started operation of oil exploration in Ikarama community and also Exxon Mobil since that same 1964 but nothing to show forth as an oil producing community.

The constant oil spills in the community has caused so much environmental pollution as the people can no longer farm while fishing activities has completely come to a halt since fish cannot survive in an Hydrocarbon polluted areas, most of the economy trees have gone into extinction while so much sickness and diseases have ravaged the community. Diseases like cancer, skin disease, infertility especially in men, blood disorder, asthma, still birth and other horrible disease due to the activities of the Oil Companies.

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The Community cannot boast of a good health center, clean water and other social amenities that make life more meaningful despite the fact that every part of the community is blessed with crude oil. The recent incident that took Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) to the Ikarama Community was the case of a young man who was trying to make a living for himself and his family hired an excavator last year to excavate the ground for fish pond but surprisingly oil was oozing out of the ground and the same experience this year after spending so much resources only to end in futility.

Visiting the community is the Director of HOMEF and his team in company of Morris Alagoa an environmental Activist to see the extent of oil pollution in the community. Dr. Nnimmo Bassey described Ikarama Community as the capital of oil spill incident in the whole of Niger Delta because Ikarama community has the highest frequency of oil spill. It’s really shocking to see the level of pollution in this community. Meanwhile we heard that shell has come severally to take samples of the soil at various depths but till date, nothing has been heard about the result been released.

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Nnimmo said what really brought HOMEF to the community was to see for themselves the sad situations of a community youth who have invested so much by trying to excavate the ground for fish pond last year and this year and surprising oil was coming out of the ground. He said, they want to make sure the result of various samples shell have collected so far is been released for proper action.

Not just NOSDRA only should involved in it but Ministry of Environment at both the state and federal level should get involved in the process of ascertaining the level of contamination, not just in one location but the entire community soil because oil pipeline transverses the length and breath of the Community and in fact other Niger Delta Community “we are very disturbed by what we are seeing that plants will remain stunted for a over a year. It says a lot about what the people have to contend with and it is a sad thing that government will just be carrying on as if nothing is happening, as if Niger Delta is just a place to be exploited, this is totally unacceptable.

He described the health challenge of the people as pathetic because anywhere there is activities of oil and gas activities, oil spill, gas flair and other unwholesome activities will follow like exposing them to hydrocarbon. They will definitely have serious health challenges like skin disease blood disorder, cancer, still birth infertility especially in men amongst the rest. So the critical thing is to clean up the environment, carry out heath audit across the Ikarama Community and the rest of the Niger Delta, take measure to remove the sickness and diseases hiding in the body of the people or already manifesting and they should make sure they stop completely the oil spill and the gas flares.

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Shell and other oil companies must need to carry out thorough remediation in the community. The HOMEF Director said what is going on in Ikarama and the Niger Delta can be called environmental racism and they won’t do this in their country. So we are calling for enough clean up.

As the oil companies are planning to sell of their Assets and move to deep waters, obviously they are running away from responsibility and accountability and before they move to the deep waters operation they should consult with the communities that they are leaving and must be ready to clean up the environment they have polluted over the years and carry out proper remediation and make sure adequate compensation are paid.

Seeing the pathetic situation of the people and the community environment is Mr Alagoa Morris, an environmentalist, who said  monitoring the environment demanded factual and evidence-based data collection, recording and reporting. Alagoa who had written over seventy (70) reports on Ikarama oil spills called on Shell and other oil companies to be proactive when such happens for the safety of the rural dwellers, and the aquatic lives that the people depend on. 

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The World is Burning; We Need  Renewables Revolution

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By António Guterres

As we wean ourselves off fossil fuels, the benefits will be vast, and not just to the climate. Energy prices will be lower and more predictable, with positive knock-on effects for food and economic security. When energy prices rise, so do the costs of food and all the goods we rely on. So, let us all agree that a rapid renewables revolution is necessary and stop fiddling while our future burns.

The only true path to energy security, stable power prices, prosperity and a livable planet lies in abandoning polluting fossil fuels and accelerating the renewables-based energy transition.

Nero was famously accused of fiddling while Rome burned. Today, some leaders are doing worse. They are throwing fuel on the fire. Literally. As the fallout of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine ripples across the globe, the response of some nations to the growing energy crisis has been to double down on fossil fuels – pouring billions of dollars more into coal, oil and gas that are driving our deepening climate emergency.

Meanwhile, all the climate indicators continue to break records, forecasting a future of ferocious storms, floods, droughts, wildfires and unlivable temperatures in vast swathes of the planet. Our world faces climate chaos. New funding for fossil fuel exploration and production infrastructure is delusional. Fossil fuels are not the answer, nor will they ever be. We can see the damage that we are doing to the planet and our societies. It is in the news every day, and no one is immune.

Fossil fuels are the cause of the climate crisis. Renewable energy is the answer – to limit climate disruption and boost energy security. Had we invested earlier and massively in renewable energy, we would not find ourselves, once again, at the mercy of unstable fossil fuel markets. Renewables are the peace plan of the 21st century. But the battle for a rapid and just energy transition is not being fought on a level field. Investors are still backing fossil fuels, and governments still hand out billions in subsidies for coal, oil and gas – some $11 million every minute.

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There is a word for favouring short-term relief over long-term well-being. Addiction. We are still addicted to fossil fuels. For the health of our societies and planet, we need to quit. Now. The only true path to energy security, stable power prices, prosperity and a livable planet lies in abandoning polluting fossil fuels and accelerating the renewables-based energy transition.

…we must make renewable energy technology a global public good, including removing intellectual property barriers to technology transfer. Second, we must improve global access to supply chains for the components and raw materials of renewable energy technologies.

To that end, I have called on the G20 governments to dismantle the coal infrastructure, with a full phase-out by 2030 for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries and 2040 for all others. I have urged financial actors to abandon fossil fuel finance and invest in renewable energy. And I have proposed a five-point plan to boost renewable energy round the world.

First, we must make renewable energy technology a global public good, including removing intellectual property barriers to technology transfer. Second, we must improve global access to supply chains for the components and raw materials of renewable energy technologies.

In 2020, the world installed five gigawatts of battery storage. We need 600 gigawatts of storage capacity by 2030. Clearly, we need a global coalition to get there. Shipping bottlenecks and supply-chain constraints, as well as higher costs for lithium and other battery metals, are hurting the deployment of such technologies and materials, just as we need them most.

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Third, we must cut the red tape that holds up solar and wind projects. We need to fast-track approvals and put in more efforts to modernise electricity grids. In the European Union, it takes eight years to approve a wind farm, and 10 years in the United States. In the Republic of Korea, onshore wind projects need 22 permits from eight different ministries.

Fourth, the world must shift energy subsidies from fossil fuels to protect vulnerable people from energy shocks and invest in a just transition to a sustainable future.

And fifth, we need to triple investments in renewables. This includes multilateral development banks and development finance institutions, as well as commercial banks. All must step up and dramatically boost investments in renewables.

There is no excuse for anyone to reject a renewables revolution. While oil and gas prices have reached record price levels, renewables are getting cheaper all the time. The cost of solar energy and batteries has plummeted 85 per cent over the past decade. The cost of wind power fell by 55 per cent. And investment in renewables creates three times more jobs than fossil fuels.

We need more urgency from all global leaders. We are already perilously close to hitting the 1.5°C limit that science tells us is the maximum level of warming to avoid the worst climate impacts. To keep 1.5 alive, we must reduce emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by mid-century. But current national commitments will lead to an increase of almost 14 per cent this decade. That spells catastrophe.

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The answer lies in renewables – for climate action, for energy security, and for providing clean electricity to the hundreds of millions of people who currently lack it. Renewables are a triple win.

There is no excuse for anyone to reject a renewables revolution. While oil and gas prices have reached record price levels, renewables are getting cheaper all the time. The cost of solar energy and batteries has plummeted 85 per cent over the past decade. The cost of wind power fell by 55 per cent. And investment in renewables creates three times more jobs than fossil fuels.

Of course, renewables are not the only answer to the climate crisis. Nature-based solutions, such as reversing deforestation and land degradation, are essential. So too are efforts to promote energy efficiency. But a rapid renewable energy transition must be our ambition.

As we wean ourselves off fossil fuels, the benefits will be vast, and not just to the climate. Energy prices will be lower and more predictable, with positive knock-on effects for food and economic security. When energy prices rise, so do the costs of food and all the goods we rely on. So, let us all agree that a rapid renewables revolution is necessary and stop fiddling while our future burns.

António Guterres is the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

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Why we Directed Citizens to Acquire Guns – Matawalle

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Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara has said that the State Government relied on an extant legislation to direct residents to acquire weapons to defend themselves.

This is contained in a statement issued by Jamilu Magaji, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, and made available to newsmen on Tuesday.

Magaji stated that the governor made the remark while inaugurating some security committees in Gusau.

The statement explained that the governor’s directive was part of the administration’s efforts to tackle protracted security challenges in the state.

It added that the State Government was aware of the misgivings expressed in some quarters regarding the new measure.

It noted that the measure was meant “to encourage the communities suffering almost daily from the inhuman aggressions from the bandits to acquire firearms to defend their communities.

“Self-defence is a natural instinct and has always been part of human survival strategy.

“As those entrusted with the safety of lives and property of the people, we will do everything possible to uphold this responsibility within the ambit of the law.

“We are also aware that the security forces are doing their best to combat this formidable challenge.

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“Their efforts are, however, hampered by the lack of adequate modern warfare equipment and the dearth of personnel.

“Our decision to mobilise people to secure their communities is, therefore, for the people to complement the efforts of the conventional security forces in dealing with banditry and fishing out informants

“The acquisition and usage of firearms by the public, who desire to do so, would be governed by the Nigeria Firearms Act,” he further stated.

The statement added that the state government had explored all options to address the issue to no avail.

It explained that apart from dialogue, reconciliation and disarmament, the government also had regular engagement with Federal Government and neighbouring states, including the Nigerien authorities.

“We also shut down mobile telecommunication networks to give security forces the leeway to take the battle directly to the bandits,” the statement added.

The governor further said that his administration had provided modern RUGA settlement for nomads and logistics support to security agencies, including vehicles and drones.

He said that in recent weeks, the state witnessed increased attacks in some parts of Gusau, Bukkuyum and Gummi Local Government Areas.

Matawalle said that government had provided 20 new Hilux Vans and 1,500 motorcycles to the committee on security to commence operation. (NAN

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