RUGA SETTLEMENT INITIATIVE: A PANACEA FOR CONFLICT BETWEEN HERDSMEN AND FARMERS IN NIGERIA
1.1 Background of the Study
Since the Fourth Nigerian Republic’s founding in 1999, farmer-herder violence has killed more than 10,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands more (Ahmed, 2015). It followed a trend in the increase of farmer-herder conflicts throughout much of the western Sahel, due to an expansion of agriculturist population and cultivated land at the expense of pasture-lands; deteriorating environmental conditions, desertification and soil degradation; population growth; breakdown in traditional conflict resolution mechanisms of land and water disputes; and proliferation of small arms and crime in rural areas. Insecurity and violence have led many populations to create self-defence forces and ethnic and tribal militias, which have engaged in further violence. The majority of farmer-herder clashes have occurred between Muslim Fulani herdsmen and Christian farmers, exacerbating ethno-religious hostilities. It is wise as we proceed in this study to recall that the primitive cattle industry is controlled and managed by the nomadic Fulanis. It has been their way of life from the beginning. They have been in this profession for hundreds of years. The Fulanis are said to have migrated to Nigeria about the 6th and 7th century AD (Stride and Ifeka, 1973). Iloeje (1972) is of the view that the Fulani people are nomadic herdsmen who are believed to have come to Nigeria from the north as invaders at different periods from the 13th century to the 19th. Some Fulani’s are still nomadic and others live a sedentary life. However, the issue of migration from the North probably suggests that they came into the country either from Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger or even the Senegambia region. All these suggest that they are immigrants. It is postulated that the original home of the Fulani may have been the Senegal river valley and the Eastern Guinea area, and they expanded eastwards from about the 12th century (Kajubi, Lewis; Taiwo, 1974). Indeed, there are two classes of Fulani known after their settlement in Nigeria. These are the “cow” Fulani who still retain their tall, slim features and light complexion. Others are the “town” Fulani have since learnt to live with the Hausa and even intermarry with their neighbours. The cow Fulani live in temporary tents made of cow hides or grass-easy to set up and equally easy to dismantle. This is practical in view of the fact that they are nomadic pastoralists who are always on the move. This is also a confirmation that the cattle industry in Nigeria began between the 12th and the 19th centuries, and has been heavily controlled, managed by the nomadic Fulani. In the northern parts of Nigeria they exchange their cattle and milk and cheese for instance, for agricultural products from their hosts. The Fulani in this way supply 90 per cent of Nigeria’s beef and cattle hide (Kajubi, Lewis, Taiwo, 1974).
However, Struggle over grazing land and scarce resources have over the years resulted in perennial and growing violent conflicts in terms of frequency, intensity and geographic scope. Underpinning the escalation in frequency of conflicts in Nigeria is a confluence of environmental and demographic forces, especially desertification caused by climate change and population explosion. Expectedly, with the depletion of arable land for subsistence farming largely as a result of increasing urbanisation and the adverse effect of climate change, especially along the Lake Chad basin, there is increased struggle between herdsmen and farmers – leading to violent confrontations and conflicts, deaths and forced displacement, as well as the destruction of agriculture and livestock. The persistent attacks in Benue state have had a spill-over effect on the neighbouring state of Nasarawa. In January 2018, the News Agency of Nigeria reported that over 18 000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) were in 11 camps in Nasarawa state. This situation necessitated the formulation of RUGA settlement. The implementation of Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) settlements, the latest plan by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to put an end to a recurring conflict between nomadic herders and farmers, has been met with considerable outrage from Nigerians. The needless loss of lives and massive destruction of property caused by open grazing of cattle is said to be one of the effects of poor leadership, which is seen as a major problem in the country. The public outcry against the atrocities of armed herdsmen across the states of the federation has been unabated, compelling Nigerians to call on the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to proffer a permanent solution to the crisis.
The word Ruga means a settlement where herders are found, particularly Fulani. The federal government of Nigeria has started to establish ‘Ruga Settlements’ for herdsmen in 12 of the 36 states as a pilot scheme for a nationwide programme designed to curb farmer-herder clashes.
Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu confirmed that ‘Ruga Settlement’, is part of the federal government policy “to settle migrant pastoral families simply means rural settlement in which animal farmers, not just cattle herders, will be settled in an organized place with provision of necessary and adequate basic amenities such as schools, hospitals, road networks, vet clinics, markets and manufacturing entities that will process and add value to meats and animal products.”Ruga Settlement” that looks to settle transient peaceful families essentially implies rustic settlement in which creature ranchers, not simply dairy cattle herders, will be settled in a sorted out. The announcement additionally featured that Beneficiaries will incorporate all people in creature farming, not just Fulani herders
To this end, the administration has gone to considerable lengths to disclose to Nigerians and the overall population, what the Buhari-drove organization looks to accomplish by building up the settlement.
Different increases are work creation, access to credit offices, security for peaceful families and shortening of cows rustling.Stripped of the legislative issues and wailing that has gone to the ongoing remarks, there is no administration intend to hold onto state land, colonize an area or force Ruga on any piece of the alliance. Government has made it obvious on numerous occasions that the program is deliberate.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Nigeria in the past recent time have witnessed a strong contention between the Herdsmen and the Farmers. This strong heated contention have recorded a significant loss of lives as the contention metamorphosis to bloodbath between these two groups in the country. The public on this basis called on the federal government of Nigeria to find a mutual landing spot for both groups in other to put to halt the bloody situation which has seen the country labelled as a wrong place for living and investment. This strong outcry by the public necessitated the origin of RUGA as a government sponsored initiative deliberately undertaken by the federal government to douse the tension between parties and as such provide lasting solution to the incessant killings between Herdsmen and Farmers. It is therefore on the basis of this initiative that this study was found credible to be undertaken in order to critically examine the RUGA Settlement Initiative.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The primary purpose of this study is to examine the solving power of RUGA in the ongoing and previously encountered conflict between herdsmen and Farmers. Specifically, we would focus on:
1. To determine the benefits of RUGA initiative implementation.
2. The challenges of RUGA implementation in Nigeria.
3. How to successfully implement RUGA in Nigeria.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions guided the findings of this study:
1. What are the visible benefits of RUGA implementation in Nigeria?
2. What are the challenges impeding the implementation of RUGA in Nigeria?
3. What is(are) the most effective method of implementing RUGA in Nigeria?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
The study developed and formulated for testing, the below hypothesis:
H0: Implementation of RUGA initiative will not provide lasting solution to Farmers and Herdsmen crisis.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
RUGA initiative is thought by the federal government of Nigeria to be the urgent strategy to douse the tension between the Farmers and the herdsmen. This study will provide in clear terms the opinions of the public concerning the initiative. This will assist the government in addressing the opinions of the public and possibly review their policy and consider it’s termination or public suggested method of implementation.
1.7 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The study was undertaken to examine the potency of government adopted conflict resolution strategy between herders and Farmers in Nigeria. This study is limited to the Nigeria situation and opinions is focused on eight states in Nigeria. Four states in the North and four states in the South.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
RUGA: A term adopted by the federal government of Nigeria as an acronym for Rural Grazing Area.
Farmers: A group of individuals who plant and harvest crops for private and public consumption.
Fulani: A minority tribe in Nigeria, often associated with the Hausa tribe.
Herdsmen: A group of individuals who specializes in rearing cows as a way of Job.
1.9 ORGANIZATION OF STUDY
This study is organized in five distinct but related chapters. The first chapter gives an overview of the study and highlights the problem as well as the objectives. In the second chapter, the study reviews related literature associated with the problem of the research. The third chapter describes the methodology adopted in carrying out the research work. The research design and method of data analysis we’re explained in this chapter. The fourth chapter presents the data collected for this study, analyzes the data and interprets the result. The fifth chapter includes the summary, conclusion for the study and possible recommendations.