1.1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
For much of the last seven years, the biggest threat to Nigeria’s security has been a devastating insurgency led by terrorist sect, Boko Haram, but that’s no longer the case. Over the past year, Nigeria has seen an uptick in violent activities of nomadic Fulani herdsmen. As Quartz has previously reported the threat of a crisis has lingered with the effects of climate change—rapid desertification of grazing land and lower rainfall—making cattle rearing more difficult in the herdsmen’s northern Nigeria base. Seeking alternatives, herdsmen have journeyed south seeking fertile grazing land for their cattle. But with that search often leading to farms in Nigeria’s middle belt and south east, increasingly violent conflicts between farmers and herdsmen have become a worrying occurrence. The menace posed by Fulani herdsmen in the different communities they migrate to for purpose of grazing their cattle is becoming very alarming. They are more and more constituting major security challenges to their host communities. The propensity towards engaging the land and the farm owners of the sites they graze there is increasing by the day as they update their arsenal with highly sophisticated weapons. This is the prevalent security challenge in some communities and states in Nigeria (Nte 2016). The grim reality about the current situation is amply underscored by the emergence of the group as the fourth deadliest terrorist group in the world, which means that Nigeria has the unenviable record of hosting two of the deadliest terrorist groups in the world, at the same time (Nigeria Tribune Monday, 11 April, 2016). Many research papers have been published as touching this menace; Rahid Solagberu Adisa in his Land Use Conflicts between Farmers and Herdsmen-Implications for Agricultural and Rural Development in Nigeria, Okechi Dominic Azuwike in his Nigeria changing environment and pastoral nomadism: Redistribution of Pains and Gains, Tunuche Marietu et al in their Resource conflicts among farmers and Fulani herdsmen: Implications for resource sustainability, and innumerable others. Though many writers and researchers have come to agree that the Fulani herdsmen are callous, irksome, mindless and heartless (Abdulai et al, 2014; Jude Owuamanam, 2015 and so on), but few or none has engaged him/herself with the psychological drive behind the callousness, irksomeness, mindlessness and heartlessness of the Fulani herdsmen. Farmers in Ondo state have protested against the activities of marauding Fulani herdsmen in the state, as colossal losses of agricultural produce are mounting after the invasion of farms in Ondo by Fulani herdsmen and their cattle. Crops worth millions of naira were destroyed by Fulani-herded cattle, with the cattle grazing the farms, and trampling on essential crops, including maize. Rising from its meeting last month, the Ondo State Agricultural Commodities Association demanded 2billion Naira compensation from the Federal Government for the colossal loss suffered by cocoa and oil palm plantations affected during the rampage. The meeting was attended by 24 agricultural commodity associations. In a communiqué signed by its Chairman, Akinola Olotu and its Secretary, Obaweya Gbenga, the group called for “urgent government assistance” for the affected farmers. The group said the menace of the nomads had transcended just grazing on crops, with “a new dimension of bush burning, rape and physical attack with machetes, robbery, kidnapping and destruction being recorded across the state.” The group called for measures to deal with nomadic Fulani herdsmen. According to the group, the activities of the nomads make them more dangerous and destructive, as they also destroy properties during their raids. The farmers said they were living in perpetual fear due to the activities of the Fulani cattle rearers. They said they can no longer entertain Fulani herdsmen and their cattle because they are not law abiding. According to them, a petition has been sent to the National Assembly to register their concern over the increasing threat to life and properties constituted by the Fulani nomads. In protest, the group urged Ondo people and Southwest Nigeria natives to boycott or abstain from buying, selling and eating beef throughout the month of March in solidarity with the farmers. The group warned that it would resist any attempt to create any grazing zone in the state, because there is hardly a space of one kilometre between farms across the state. “We reject the idea of acquiring land in our state for the purpose of planting grass to feed nomadic cattle. The Federal Government should please restrict this idea to the Northern region and irrigate the grass there, like it’s done to other crops there,” the group said. The fact that these Fulani herdsmen are in possession of sophisticated weapons of war like AK47 rifles and helicopters, while Nigerian law enforcement agencies are hill equipped (Nigeria Tribune Monday, April 11, 2016) sends a signal that they are more interested in terrorizing than in shepherding, as these weapons of war are (1) neither meant to kill flies, (2) nor meant to control the cattle (3) or is it meant to be consumed by the cattle and/or by the herdsmen.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Nigeria has witnessed conflicts between the Fulani herdsmen and farmers which have resulted in the extensive loss of lives and property. The constant clashes have threatened the security of the State, reduced its economic productivity, and deepened food crisis. “The ongoing conflict between farmers and herdsmen across the North-Central is costing Nigeria at least $14 billion in potential revenues annually” (Mercy Corps, 2015). The fact that 34 out of 36 states in Nigeria experience perennial conflicts is a testament that this problem is a pandemic, and there is need to put forth mitigation strategies (Kabir, 2016). The conflicts have affected the day to day relationship or interaction of the Fulani herdsmen and other ethnic groups in the country. Religious, ethnic, minority and majority, political differences and interests have been considered as the major causative factors on the one hand. Herders who are entering Nigeria’s savannah regions are usually new to the area, apart from putting pressure on the existing resources; they are not familiar with the grazing route, which increases the chances of trespass and misunderstanding. Other scholars (Higazi, 2016; Dimelu, et al 2016; Okoli & Okpaleke, 2014) argued that the problem stems from the recent increase in cattle-rustling activities and the on-going expansion of land under cultivation has resulted in the diminishing of grazing route in the country. The cause of these escalations in the violent confrontations has become a subject of discussion in Nigeria, with some authors arguing that this is an ethno religious issue that existed during the pre-colonial times (Baca, 2015). The problem here is that the Nigerian government is struggling to find a lasting solution to the problem as the conflicts continue to linger on for decades (Opejobi, 2016). The government approach through a Bill sponsored in the parliament to establish grazing routes and reserves in the southern part of Nigeria indicates that the climate change narrative as the principal cause of the escalation informed the decision taken to address the problem (Okeke, 2014). Many Nigerians have argued that the response of government is from a narrow range that will further escalate the conflict because the government action will require dispossessing some farmers from their lands which will be demarcated for grazing purpose. However, the majority of the people from the middle belt and southern part of the country have vowed to defend their lands with all means necessary (Adetayo, 2016). This study seeks to investigate the underlying factors responsible for the conflict escalation from the perspective of the actors that are directly involved in the conflicts. The voices and perspectives of both the Fulani herdsmen and the people of Ose Local government in Ondo state are very crucial to any plausible policy intervention to be a success.
1.3. AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major aim of the study is to examine menace of Fulani herdsmen in Ondo state. Other specific objectives are as follows;
1.4. RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.5. RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
H0: There is no significant effect of the menace of Fulani herdsmen on Ose Local Government in Ondo state.
H1: There is a significant effect of the menace of Fulani herdsmen on Ose Local Government in Ondo state.
1.6. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study is largely significant because it sought to find answers to questions on menace of Fulani herdsmen, causes, its socio economic effects on the affected community and how to curb the menace. The research paper will be of interest and useful to the general public, the government as well as the governed and also to future researchers in taking a stand on what is prevalent in the country. This research will also serve as a resource base to other scholars and researchers interested in carrying out further research in this field subsequently, if applied will go to an extent to provide new explanation to the topic.
1.7. SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is restricted to menace of Fulani herdsmen in Ondo state (a case study of Ose Local Government Area).
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Menace: It’s a show of intention to inflict harm or to act in a threatening manner.
Fulani Herdsmen: Fulani herdsmen or Fulani pastoralists are nomadic or semi nomadic Fulani herders whose primary occupation is raising livestock. The pure Fulani pastoralist engages in random movement of cattle while the semi-nomadic makes transhumance migration and return to their camps or homes.
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