The Presidency has said it is determined to find short and long term solutions to frequent conflicts between farmers and herdsmen across the country.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday, said the gruesome pictures of mayhem from several parts of the country has been a source of concern for President Muhammadu Buhari, especially in Benue and its neighbouring states.
He said the president is equally worried about “some public pronouncements and finger-pointing that are, in most cases very unhelpful to peaceful coexistence of our diverse peoples.
“The President is conscious of his duty to Nigerians, not least because he is held accountable for everything that goes wrong.
“He deeply sympathises with the families and all the other direct and indirect victims of this violence. He is determined to bring it to a permanent end’’.
Shehu also disclosed that the presidency is planning a conference of stakeholders on infrastructural and agricultural development to put in place a plan for immediate relief and long term plan for the expansion of agriculture in the country.
According to him, the conference will tap into experiences and best practices to draw up a planned development for 20-30 years ahead based on population and development projections, and will take into consideration environmental impacts.
While there are many Nigerians who see the conflict between the nomadic herdsmen and peasant farmers as an ethnic problem, others point to religious differences and agenda. The President does not subscribe to such simplistic reductionism.
President Buhari holds the view, as do many experts, that these conflicts are more often than not, as a result of major demographic changes in Nigeria.
When Nigeria attained independence, the population of the country was estimated at about 63,000,000. Today the population is estimated at close to 200,000,000; while the land size has not changed and will not change.
Urban sprawl and development have simply reduced land area both for peasant farming and cattle grazing.
It is therefore both unfair and unkind, for anyone to keep insinuating that the President is condoning the spate of killings in Benue and other neighbouring states.
President Buhari has publicly condemned the violence at every turn. He is prepared to permit every possible step that can lead to the stoppage of the killings.