Narratives on Farmers-Herders Relations Amplified for Political, Personal Gains–Prof. Oshita
The narratives on farmers -herders conflicts in Nigeria, have been said to be politicised with unsuspecting members of the public blackmailed for cheap socio-political gains and geo-strategic advantage.
This point was made by the Executive Director of Ubuntu Centre for Africa Peace and Development, Prof. Oshita Oshita, at a Learning Exchange Meeting organised by the Farmers-Herders Relations in Nigeria (FFARN) in collaboration with Search for Common Ground (SFCG) and supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, USA.
According to Oshita, ” the story out there is those of the negatives”, stressing that “there are also positive actions but the negatives dominates”.
He noted that the fact that ordinary people are being blackmailed by their leaders and politicians who desire to use the conflict to gain political advantage and in essence minimise the good about some efforts being made to resolve the conflict, is bad.
“We know that there are a lot of positive relations going on but those are not amplified as modern day communication is dominated by the ‘CNN effect’ that is negative effect, which is ‘if it is not bad it is not news”, he said
As a way forward, the former Director-General of the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), stressed the need for all stakeholders to look at the aspect of normalising the Farmers-Herders relationship and avoid its politicisation.
Oshita also called for a proactive analysis on how the two groups of people interact in their basic economic relations as basically the conflict of farmers and herders is an economic conflict which is based on resource scarcity, as “looking at it from that point of view will eliminate politicisation and ethnicity.”
In the same vein, the United Nations Rapporteur, Dr. Chris Kwaja, reiterated on the issue of both fake and credible news fuelling the crisis, especially through the social media.
Kwaja who is a Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Peace and Security Studies Modibbo Adama University of Technology, Yola Adamawa State, said “the most important point to note on the farmers-herders conflict is the fact that despite all the positives, only the sad stories are being told.
“It is like there are no other model for peace building but in actual fact there are several community that individuals within have been able to mediate, also there are community where on their own have settled dispute and there is need to amplify them so that they can serve as model for other communities,” he added.
The Peace Researcher further disclosed that “the target is to work towards a harmonious relationship because, though relations has been fractured it can still be transformed for the good of all, where both parties can see themselves as partners, with a symbiotic relationship that is mutually reinforcing, because they cannot live separately.”
“So we must ensure we improve their livelihood as many of them feel they are marginalised and not much have been done to help them so we have to work together to make sure that these production sections are part of our planning”, Kwaja said.
Earlier, the Country Director for SFCG in Nigeria, Mr. Sher Nawaz, regretted conflicting narratives that are not based on empirical evidence, adding that there are many stories without proper research on issues.
According to him, the crisis could only be resolved as a regional phenomenal not singular situations.
The FFARN brings together academia and practitioners to bridge the gap in practice, communication and knowledge-sharing; and by providing a fora for both governmental and non-governmental institutions to share views and experiences, discuss the current dynamics of farmer-herder conflict, and identify areas for policy research, the Forum will help generate testable evidence for multilevel policy influencing.
The Forum aims to convert practical peacebuilding knowledge and evidence into influence and also address the challenge of better linking scholars and practitioners’ interests with activities that focuses on disseminating the work of peacebuilding practitioners, academics and scholars, in operational and actionable formats that will help shape actions undertaken by both policymakers and the peacebuilding community, itself.