RUGA SETTLEMENT INITIATIVE: A PANACEA FOR CONFLICT BETWEEN HERDSMEN AND FARMERS IN NIGERIA
RUGA SETTLEMENT INITIATIVE: A PANACEA FOR CONFLICT BETWEEN HERDSMEN AND FARMERS IN NIGERIA
RUGA SETTLEMENT INITIATIVE: A PANACEA TO THE CONFLICT BETWEEN HERDSMEN AND FARMERS IN NIGERIA
1.1 Background of the Study
Since the Fourth Nigerian Republic's establishment in 1999, farmer-herder conflict has killed over 10,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands more (Ahmed, 2015).
It followed a trend of increasing farmer-herder conflicts across much of the western Sahel, owing to an increase in 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 for land and water disputes; and the proliferation of small arms and crime in rural areas.
Insecurity and violence have prompted many people to form self-defense groups and ethnic and tribal militias, which have engaged in additional atrocities. The majority of farmer-herder incidents have been between Muslim Fulani herders and Christian farmers, aggravating ethnic and religious tensions.
As we progress through this study, it is important to remember that the nomadic Fulanis dominate and manage the primitive livestock industry. It's been their way of life since the beginning. They have been practicing this occupation for hundreds of years. According to Stride and Ifeka (1973), the Fulanis arrived in Nigeria somewhere between the sixth and seventh centuries AD.
According to Iloeje (1972), the Fulani are nomadic herders who are said to have invaded Nigeria from the north at various points between the 13th and 19th centuries. Some Fulanis are still nomadic,
while others live sedentary lives. However, the issue of migration from the North indicates that they entered the country via Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, or perhaps the Senegambia region.
All of these indicate that they are immigrants. The Fulani's original home may have been the Senegal river basin and Eastern Guinea, and they expanded eastwards beginning around the 12th century (Kajubi, Lewis; Taiwo, 1974). Following their establishment in Nigeria, two kinds of Fulani were identified.
These are the “cow” Fulani, who have maintained their tall, thin features and pale complexion. Others are the “town” Fulani, who have subsequently learned to coexist with the Hausa and even intermarried with their neighbours. The cow Fulani live in temporary tents made of cow hides or grass, which are quick to set up and dismantle.
This is practical, given that they are nomadic pastoralists who are constantly on the move. This also confirms that Nigeria's cattle industry began between the 12th and 19th centuries and was primarily dominated and managed by nomadic Fulani.
In northern Nigeria, people swap livestock, milk, and cheese for agricultural items from their hosts. According to Kajubi, Lewis, and Taiwo (1974), the Fulani furnish 90% of Nigeria's meat and cattle hide.
However, the struggle over grazing area and finite resources has led in perennial and expanding violent confrontations in terms of frequency, intensity, and geographic scope. A confluence of climatic and demographic pressures, particularly desertification caused by climate change and population growth, lies at the root of Nigeria's increasing frequency of conflicts.
With the depletion of arable land for subsistence farming, primarily as a result of increased urbanisation and the negative effects of climate change, particularly along the Lake Chad basin,
there is increased conflict between herdsmen and farmers, resulting in violent confrontations and conflicts, deaths and forced displacement, as well as the destruction of agriculture and livestock.
The ongoing violence in Benue state have impacted the nearby state of Nasarawa. In January 2018, the News Agency of Nigeria reported that around 18,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) were housed in 11 camps in Nasarawa state. This condition forced the creation of the RUGA colony.
The introduction of Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) settlements, the latest attempt by President Muhammadu Buhari's administration to end a reoccurring conflict between nomadic herders and farmers, has sparked widespread indignation among Nigerians.
The unnecessary loss of lives and vast destruction of property caused by open grazing of cattle is cited as one of the consequences of weak leadership, which is regarded as a serious issue in the country.
The public uproar over armed herders' crimes across the federation has continued, prompting Nigerians to call on President Muhammadu Buhari's government to provide a permanent solution to the situation.
Ruga refers to a hamlet of herders, notably Fulani. Nigeria's federal government has begun to build ‘Ruga Settlements' for herders in 12 of the 36 states as a pilot scheme for a statewide programme aimed at reducing farmer-herder violence.
Garba Shehu, the presidential spokesman, 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 organised place with the 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 seeks to settle temporary calm households essentially indicates rustic settlement in which creature ranchers, not just dairy cattle herders, will be established in a sorted out. The declaration also stated that Beneficiaries will include all people in creature farming, not simply Fulani herders.
To that end, the government has gone to great pains to explain to Nigerians and the general public what the Buhari-led organisation hopes to achieve by strengthening the settlement.
Different increases include job creation, access to credit offices, security for tranquil families, and a reduction in cow rustling.Despite the legislative challenges and screaming that have accompanied the ongoing remarks,
the administration has no intention of retaining state territory, colonising an area, or forcing Ruga to join any part of the alliance. The government has made it clear on multiple occasions that the programme is deliberate.
1.2 statement of the Problem
Nigeria has recently witnessed a major conflict between herders and farmers. This strong heated argument has resulted in a substantial loss of life as the dispute has escalated into a massacre between these two parties in the country.
On this basis, the public urged Nigeria's federal government to establish a mutual landing site for both groups in order to put an end to the violent crisis that has branded the country as an unsuitable location to live and invest.
This huge public outcry compelled the formation of RUGA as a government-sponsored effort designed by the federal government to defuse tensions between parties and, as a result,
give a long-term solution to the recurrent deaths between herders and farmers. As a result of this undertaking, this study was deemed trustworthy for conducting a critical examination of the RUGA Settlement undertaking.
1.3 GOALS OF THE STUDY
The primary goal of this research is to investigate the effectiveness of RUGA in resolving ongoing and prior conflicts between herders and farmers. Specifically, we would focus on:
1. Determine the benefits of RUGA initiative adoption.
2. The obstacles associated with RUGA implementation in Nigeria.
3. How to Successfully Implement RUGA in Nigeria.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions influenced the conclusions of this study:
1. What are the clear benefits of RUGA implementation in Nigeria?
2. What are the obstacles to the adoption of RUGA in Nigeria?
3. What method(s) are most effective for adopting RUGA in Nigeria?
1.5 Research hypothesis
The study developed and prepared for testing the following hypothesis:
H0: The implementation of the RUGA programme would not give a long-term solution to the farmers and herders crisis.
1.6 Significance of the Study
The Nigerian federal government believes that the RUGA initiative is an imperative method for reducing tensions between farmers and herders. This study will clearly state the public's views on the idea.
This will assist the government in responding to public opinion and maybe reviewing their policy and considering its termination or the public's proposed manner of implementation.
1.7 Scope and Limitations of the Study
The study was conducted to assess the effectiveness of the government-adopted conflict resolution technique between herders and farmers in Nigeria. This study is limited to the Nigerian context, with comments focusing on eight Nigerian states. Four states in the north, four in the south.
1.8 Definition of Terms
RUGA: A name used by Nigeria's federal government as an acronym for Rural Grazing Area.
Farmers: A group of people who produce and harvest crops for personal and public use.
Fulani: A minority group in Nigeria that is frequently identified with the Hausa tribe.
Herdsmen: A group of people who specialise in raising cows as a means of livelihood.
1.9 Organisation of Study
This study is divided into five independent but linked segments. The first chapter provides a summary of the study, highlighting both the problem and the aims. The second chapter of the study reviews literature relating to the research problem.
The third chapter outlines the approach used in carrying out the research. This chapter explains the research strategy and method of data analysis.
The fourth chapter presents the data acquired for this study, analyses it, and interprets the findings. The fifth chapter offers the study's summary, conclusion, and possible recommendations.