- Background to the Study
Climate change, long-term transmutation in the earth’s climate, especially a transmutation due to an expansion in the normal barometrical temperature, is not an incipient phenomenon. Most of these climate changes are attributed to minutely diminutive variations in Earth’s orbit that transmute the amount of solar energy our planet receives (Peterson et. al, 2009). The present warming pattern is of particular consequence on the grounds that the greater part of it is likely human-incited and continuing at a rate that is phenomenal in the past 1,300 years (Allison et.al, 2009). Most climate scientists accede the main cause of the current warming trend is human expansion of the “greenhouse effect”, warming that result when the atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space (Naomi, 2004). A more vigorous greenhouse effect will warm the oceans and partially melt glaciers and other frozen di-hydrogen monoxide, thus creating an astonishing increase in sea level (Church et.al, 2006). Gradually, the warming of air temperatures cause drought conditions and avert the sustained development of vegetation. This, combined with human activity of chopping down trees, overgrazing and the clearing of land for agribusiness, leads to continual desertification witnessed in specific regions.
Desertification is a form of land degradation by which land becomes more arid (Arnalds, 2000). It generally refers to “the procedure of fruitful land changing into desert typically as a result of deforestation, drought, or incongruous methods of farming” (Reynolds, 2001). This process more often than not brings about the desertified land losing its vegetation, water bodies (lakes, streams), and wildlife. Desertification causes abstraction of nutrients from the soil, making land infertile and unusable for cultivation. With this process, the world looses about 12 million hectares of productive land yearly. due to desertification and drought alone (Veron et.al, 2006). Desertification is a noteworthy issue over the world, most remarkably in dryland zones (counting vast zones in Africa, for example, the Sahel).
About 40% of Earth’s land is covered by drylands, and these areas are home to over 2 billion people (Idris et al, 2011). However, while climate change and desertification can frequently go as an inseparable unit, each one able to exacerbate the other, the part these two components play in migration is starting to gain increased global attention. With the current progression of the world’s deserts, there may soon be few places for environmentally displaced persons to go (Neely et.al, 2009). Geometric increase in human population in drylands has led to reduction in soil quality and thus increased the pressure to migrate due to unpredictable rainfall patterns leading to frequent drought (Bassett et.al, 2003; Coughenour, 2008). Such migrations, often caused by depleted means of livelihood bring the migrants into constant clashes with the local population especially over use of resources, especially land. The movement of dry land inhabitants into the hinterland has led to conflict over scarce resources in terms of land use and management especially between farmers and herdsmen (Amadiet.al, 2011). As is with the case in Nigeria, the effects of desertification, in mostly the northernmost parts, have necessitated the migration of herdsmen southward in search of greener pastures for their cattle. The consequent foray of cattle into local farms in these areas has continually led to clashes between farmers and migrating herders (Olabode&Ajibade, 2011). Strife between farmers and herdsmen for the utilization of agricultural land is becoming fierce and increasingly wide spread in Nigeria largely due to production activities that are necessitated by increasing human population.
In light of this, it is pertinent to note the heterogeneous nature of Nigeria with its multiplicity of ethnicities and possibilities of conflict triggers in form of ethnic clashes emanating from resource use. One feature which has distinguished Kwara State, the case study for this research, is the prevailing peace and harmony despite the multiplicity of tribes and cultures. The state is described as a microcosm of Nigeria. It is a home to the Yoruba, Hausa, Fulani, Nupe, Bariba, among others. All these tribes have, from years immemorial, co-existed peacefully and harmoniously with less friction. The presence of the varied ethnicities is typified in its sobriquet as the State of Harmony to depict the influx of people from all parts of the country settling down to relish the peace in the state.
However, the recent spate of attacks by Fulani herdsmen and farmers casts a dark shadow on the existing harmony in the state. Though the problem of farmers/herders clash has been a recurring decimal in Nigeria, Kwara State has had its fair taste of the crisis. Recently, the clashes have been getting bloodier. In 2015, according to (Abdullateef, 2015), there was a huge confrontation between herdsmen of Fulani descent and native farmers. The conflict started from Asa Local Government in Kwara Central Senatorial District and spread to communities in Kwara South Senatorial District: Oro-Ago in Ifelodun Local Government and Eruku in Irepodun Local Government. Prominent among the causes of the conflict, apart from the straying of cattle into farmlands and reprisal attacks, is the failure of the herdsmen to abide by extant rules which forbad bringing weapons to the market. Conflict emanated during the struggle by the local vigilante to seize the said weapons from the herdsmen. The result of the conflict was the death of eight townsmen according to the traditional ruler of Eruku, HRH Oba BusariOlarewaju, who also stated that the community has been experiencing Fulani/Bororo attack for the past 10 years. This highlights not just the need for grazing options in hitherto reported conflicts but adds a new dimension in terms of the importance of understanding and mutual co-habitation between herders and their host communities.
While the dust over the Eruku and Oro-Ago incidents is yet to settle, there was a similar confrontation in Patigi Local Government, in Kwara North senatorial district in June 2015, where farmers and herdsmen clashed at a community called Motokun. It was learnt that members of the community staged a reprisal attack on the Fulani herdsmen, with casualties recorded on both sides. After the Patigi attack, there was another incident reported at ObboAiyegunle in Ekiti Local Government Area, where some indigenes allegedly attacked a Fulani camp, asking them to vacate their lands. The Fulani settlement was set ablaze in the process with unspecified number of cattle killed.These are some of the examples of the recent cases of conflict between farmers and herders in Kwara State.
In light of these attacks, this study seeks to peruse the Great Green Wall Project as an initiative whose success can have spiral effects in curbing the southward movement of herders in search of greener pasture for their cattle. The successful implementation of this program will mean lesser confrontation between migrant farmers and herdsmen in Kwara State. However, putting into consideration the presence of indigenous Fulanis, Kwara State offers another dynamic to approaching the conflict between farmers and herdsmen. In this case, not all herdsmen are migrants. The three classes of Fulanis; the nomadic or bororo, the semi-nomadic and the settled or town Fulani (Frantz, 1981), are present in the state. This means not all confrontations between the farmers and herders are as a result of migration but unavailability of grazing options for the latter. It is within this ambit that the tenets of the Great Green Wall in terms of greening the landscapes and ensuring the protection of the livelihoods will be investigated and perused as to the usefulness of its application in other states of the federation.
- Statement of the Problem
The Great Green Wall Project was initiated in 2007 to help arrest massive desertification, especially in Sahel Africa. It is a project of the African Union targeted at building a wall of green lands across Africa; from the east to the west, hinged on improving the economy of the affected areas and reducing clashes instigated on the basis of land usage and management. While the project is in different phases in different African countries, it beholds on each national government to develop policies that will fast-track the implementation of the project to the relief of its people. However, on the premise of a project in progress and in light of the continual desertification of Northern Nigeria, the country is still witnessing constant struggle for land resources between farmers and herdsmen due to the mass migration of the latter southward. This movement coupled with the unavailability of grazing routes /lands or ranches has been responsible for encroachment of farms by cattle and consequent violent conflict between local farmers and herdsmen.
Desertification has become a security threat to the Nigerian state. The recent Agatu killings, massacres in Enugu, kidnappings in Ondo and attacks in various parts of Kwara state covering the three senatorial zones, carried out by supposed herdsmen pose great danger, not only to the lives and security of the local populace but the unity of Nigeria as a whole. This has put the state governors of affected states in a dilemma of either maintaining the cord of nationalism in the vein of free movement and settlement of Nigerians irrespective of ethnicity or protection of the people who voted them into power at all cost. The security problem is not helped by Nigeria’s loose borders, which makes it easy for foreigners to wreak havoc in the country while hiding under the banner of herdsmen affected by desertification. This is quite pronounced in the recent admission by Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, Minister of State for Agriculture on May 10, 2016 that those arrested in connection with Fulani herdsmen killings cannot speak Fulani or any Nigerian language suggests the influx of foreign elements into the country unchecked. The inability of the government to control the influx of dangerous foreigners terrorizing Nigerian citizens in their homeland might in the long run pose much more daunting challenges than the current fight against the Boko Haram terrorists.
As well noted by Rashid (2012), conflicts between farmers and herdsmen are well spread across Kwara state, most particularly in ten Local Government Areas: Asa, Edu, Ifelodun, Ilorin East, Kaiama, Moro, Patigi, Baruteen, Irepodun and Ekiti. The continuous clashes between farmers and herders in this locations continue to be a cause for concern for locals as well as putting into danger the prospect of attracting investors to Kwara state. This brings to bear the urgency of the state government’s resolve to establish three new grazing reserves across the state in Alapa (Asa Local Government, Kwara central senatorial district), Lata (Patigi Local Government, Kwara North senatorial district), Babanla (Ifelodun Local Government, Kwara south senatorial district) and the rehabilitation of the GidaMagajiya reserve to accommodate more herdsmen. A fast-track of government plans along this line should be a step in the right direction if the constant clashes between farmers and herdsmen are to be reduced.
Also, in light of the constant clashes between local farmers and herdsmen, there is a need to incorporate strategies for managing conflict in the affected areas. This brings to bear the important role of extant traditional, religious, nomadic/agricultural institutions in peace-building and conflict resolution. As reported by Abdullateef (2015), traditional rulers especially in Kwara State are most times the first point of call after clashes between herders and their host communities occur. A case in point was the intervention of the Emir of Ilorin and chairman of the state Council of Traditional Rulers, Alhaji Ibrahim Zulu Gambari, in the conflict between Fulani herdsmen and some Yoruba inhabitants at Alapa in Asa Local Government Area in 2014. Notwithstanding, the intervention came only after lives had been lost and property worth millions of naira destroyed.
The Great Green Wall Project is expected to be a viable initiative that offers practical solutions to the root problem of desertification affecting the country. However, it remains a problem in linking a working document to implementing policies that would see the hitherto recommendations being applied and actualized. Therefore, this study is focused on the Great Green Wall Project as a potential tool to reduce the impact of desertification and its attendant effect on violent clashes between local farmers and herdsmen in Kwara State, Nigeria.
- Objective of the Study
The main objective of this research was to investigate the performance of the Great Green Wall Project in relation to its expected usefulness in curbing farmers/herders conflict in Kwara State, Nigeria. The specific objectives are to:
- examine models of implementing the Great Green Wall Project in light of continual desertification in Nigeria;
- seek ways in which the government can maintain/develop grazing reserves in order to reduce constant clashes between local farmers and herders in Kwara State;
- assess the conflict prevention models put in place to alleviate clashes between farmers and herdsmen in Kwara State;
- source for ways of developing better communication, understanding and cooperation between local farmers and migrating herdsmenin Kwara State and;
- examine ways in which Nigeria’s borders especially in the northeast can be secured to prevent the influx of foreign pastoralists, arms and ammunitions.