* Inter-disciplinary approach by research institutes ‘ll resolve crises- ASURI
* Says Nigeria’s stunted growth due to neglect of research.
For many citizens of Benue State and Nigerians, it was a day they would not forget in a hurry. They trooped out in their thousands to pay their last respect to the 73 Nigerians sentenced to early graves by the lethal weapons marauding herdsmen recently.
They were locked in mourning. Like a damaged pipe, tears flowed freely. Grief stood boldly on their faces. But, it wasn’t the first time the purveyors of death, sorrow and tears unleashed terror on fellow compatriots. Prior to the killing of the over 70 citizens by the merchants of death, communities had been leveled, children had been orphaned, wives had been widowed with generations and dreams condemned to the graveyard by gun-trotting herdsmen across the country.
According to Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom, 1,878 people in the state alone were killed by herdsmen between 2013 and 2016, and in 12 Local Government Areas, over 99,242 households were affected by the attacks of herdsmen in the state.
Also, a 2015 Global Terrorism Index put Fulani militants in the fourth position on the list of deadliest militant groups with a record killing of 1,229 people in 2014 alone. In the same vein, a 2017 research by SBM Intelligence revealed that 5,000 people had died from pastoral conflicts.
But, herdsmen also have their stories. They claim the society has not been fair to them as they are also victims of violence orchestrated by farmers.
A Fulani herdsman in Zungeru, Niger State, Mallam Usman Muhammed, for example, told The Daily Times that, “The farmers also are to blame by the way we are provoked even when our cattle are not entering their farmland and just passing by. Yet, they fight us without provocation. Let us have the ranching and let government provide us with security.’’
For decades, herdsmen/farmers clashes have become a recurring decimal. The recent spate of killings have brought back the discourse about the nagging problem to the front burner. With blame flying in different directions, observers say there is no end in sight to herdsmen/farmers clashes as it appears to have defied solutions.
Beyond buck-passing and blame game, researchers in Nigeria’s research institution through the National Secretary General of Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI), Dr. Ndubuaku Theophilus, have disclosed that they could bring an end to the perennial problem of herdsmen/farmers clashes within one year.
Ndubuaku told The Daily Times in an exclusive interview that, “The hope of this government is not in propaganda, politics, and military. Even all these military activities to check Boko Haram, herdsmen crisis, IPOB are not the solution. The solution is putting money in research. Look at what is happening now, Fulani herdsmen/farmers clashes, this and that, what is it all about? Research! All these problems you see is because there is no research.’’
He added: “You will be surprised that there is a research institute for peace and conflict resolution. There is a research institute for policy and strategic studies. But if you go to the Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies and ask them if they have been consulted over Fulani herdsmen problem, they will ask you “do you give us money for research?’’ If we have research funding, the peace and conflict resolution people will come up with a solution to this problem. They will link up with other research institutes in the world to get solution.’’
On the method to apply to end the problem, he said “If all research institutes put heads together because we are all linked to one another, and apply inter-disciplinary approach, within one year, they will come up with a solution.’’
Ndubuaku, however, traced Nigeria’s stunted growth to the neglect of research.
He said: “There is a research institute for virtually every sector of the economy. This Nigeria you are seeing today is a product of neglect of research. I can tell anybody that, give us funds for research, and if in one year, Nigeria does not witness physical change in development, lock me up in a room in SSS headquarters.’’
Commenting on the spate of killings arising from farmers/herders clashes on the floor of the Senate, Senator Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna Central), urged Nigerian leaders to shun ethnic and religious sentiments in their search for a lasting solution to the nagging problem.
Sani said: “If you are faced with a crisis and you use ethnic lenses to view at it, you will see a religious, ethnic or sectional image. This is not the time for diplomacy and courtesy.
“This is the time to provide leadership for a nation that is in national emergency and national distress.
“Let the president wake up and protect the country. We are living in a country where there is complicit reward for violence.’’