Sen. Jonathan Zwingina, former Senate Deputy Leader, says the displacement of herdsmen from Sambisa forest in Borno by Boko Haram insurgents has heightened farmers/herders crises in some parts of the country.
Zwingina made the observation when he paid a courtesy call on Hama Batta, Chief Gladstone Teneke at his palace in Demsa, Adamawa on Wednesday.
The former senate deputy leader was in the palace to intimate him of his intention to vie for the Southern Senatorial seat of the state in the forthcoming 2019 general elections.
He said that the conversion of the Sambisa forest, which was hitherto a free grazing place for herds forced herdsmen to move southward in search of pasture.
He said that the situation led to clash of economic interests between farmers and herdsmen.
He said that the crisis was basically an economic one, adding that access to economic opportunities by these traditional occupations had resulted in widespread killings and destruction of property in some parts of the country.
“Before the invasion of Sambisa by the insurgents and subsequently converting it as their base, the area served as a grazing place for hundreds of herders, but the situation had forced the herders to relocate to Middle Belt, North East and Cross River.
“Also in the course of their movement, some herders who penetrated into the country illegally due to the porous nature of borders carry arms which contravene ECOWAS treaty on free movement within the sub-region,’’ he said.
Zwingina said that the solution to the current situation was to build an interface between herders and farmers in every community.
According to him, this will make members of such communities to know one another to check invasion of communities by aliens.
He stressed that issue was not religious or ethnic but of survival, pointing out that as farmers needed land for cultivation of crops, herders needed pasture for their cattle.
Zwingina advised the government to adopt mechanism by other countries which equally shared similar background as Nigeria such as Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi and had proffered lasting solutions to their crises.
Zwingina said that there was symbiotic relationship between cattle and Quelea birds in most of the areas in Numan and Demsa where a lot of herdsmen were found.
He said that the cattle had driven away some insects that Quelea fed on, thereby, making the birds to be in large quantity in those areas.
He said that the presence of the Quelea birds were now a threat to farmers unless the state government embarked on aerial spray to drive away the birds.
He vowed that when elected, he would table before the Senate documented evidences at his disposal on the way out of the farmers/herders crisis in the country with a view to restoring peaceful coexistence among the communities.
Responding, Teneke lamented the daily occurrences of crises between farmers and herders, describing the situation as unfortunate.
He said that herders now carried arms as they forced their cattle to graze on farms and threatened to kill farmers if they raised any alarm.
He said the crisis had brought backwardness to Batta Chiefdom considering the number of lives and property lost during the crises.
“People like Senator Zwingina has the capacity and determination to ensure that peace returns to the areas.
The Senatorial hopeful later had an interactive session with APC party executives of Demsa,
He also had similar session with APC party executives of Mayo-Belwa and Numan where he congratulated them over their victory during the recent elections and intimated them on his intention to vie for senatorial seat.
In their separate remarks, the party executives of the three local government areas pledged to work toward the success of Zwingina’s election during primaries and the general elections.