It gives me great pleasure to be here with you at this very important function that seeks to address some of the perennial problems persisting in the country. The triple issues of peace, unity and security are of great significance to our cherished and collective culture of serene and harmonious co-existence as a people.
I salute the foresight and ingenuity of the organizers of this lecture series for not only organizing the progremme in this special way, but also for choosing the theme of this year’s lecture series to revolve around the issue of peaceful co-existence and mutual harmony among interrelated and interdependent communities in the country.
The choice to discuss these myriad issues is not only commendable, but also a timely intervention in the spirit of upholding the need for a united and progressive Nigeria in line with the nation’s motto: Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress.
As the organizers of this lecture series, you have proven to us that you have concern over public interest. This is a clear indication of both belonging and working towards making positive impression and impact on having exponential increase in the number of befitting and responsible human resource and manpower for nation building.
As the Chief Law Office of Nigeria, I believe some of the ways for a peaceful Nigeria include strict adherence to the rule of law, respecting the sanctity of the fundamental human rights in all ramifications, including freedom of movement and the right of citizens to stay at whatever part of the country they choose to and other provisions as contained in Chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria remain fulcrum for a peaceful society.
I want to submit that mastering and adopting conflict management strategies, interpersonal and intercommunity tolerance, enhanced public relations techniques, understanding of multi-culturism and diversity, socially responsible and objective media, properly motivated and well-trained security forces with patriotic Nigerians sincerely committed to duty are recipe for a peaceful Nigeria.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is imperative to state that there exist strong connections among drug abuse, family cohesion, insecurity, insurgency and disruption of socio-cultural foundation, political stability and economic prosperity of communities and nations.
Substance abuse may cause public health disorder, national economic retardation, human resource stagnation and distract the attainment of priority goals and objectives of any community. The recent waves of cases of rape and other maladaptive behaviors may not be unconnected with drug abuse.
It is against this backdrop that the Federal Government of Nigeria established and support agencies to address these challenges. Establishment of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development as well as Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Police Affairs, among others, are all geared towards achieving the objectives of having a peaceful, serene and luminous atmosphere for a healthy, mutually beneficial and fruitful stay as citizens and inhabitants of the country.
One of the issues that dominated the media space in recent time is the issue of farmer-herders conflict. Farmer-herder crisis is real. It, therefore, requires real time and practically-oriented solutions. The better approach towards resolving the crisis over the short, medium and long terms is to directly involve the stakeholders in the coming up with solutions at the conception, implementation and monitoring faces.
In this case, community-oriented approach is likely to yield greater dividend in diffusing and eventually eliminating the menace that has retarded economic development and created wide-spread insecurity.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is not out of place for me to say that simply addressing farmer-herder crisis from purely theoretical perspectives often devoid of reality and without synchronization with the needs and aspirations of the involved stakeholders is not only counter-productive, but inimical to the emergence and sustenance of a peaceful and prosperous Nigeria.
It is against this backdrop that I proffer the following recommendations for the consideration of the symposium:
The setting up of regulated grazing reserves to replace the “Burtali” or “Hurumi” pastoral system.
Intensive enlightenment to livestock breeders on the need for sedentary farming and transhumance agriculture as complimentary economic process to nomadic farming.
Provision of water holes in remote grazing locations, subsidized veterinary care and mobile ambulatory services for surgeries and other medical interventions for livestock.
Provision of infrastructure – social amenities, educational facilities and cattle markets at central locations to accelerate nomadic settlements.
Educating communities on the need for peaceful co-existence; after all these communities have lived harmoniously side by side and even intermarried for generations.
Community engagement fora for bridge-building in community relations.
Nigeria is predominately agricultural in nature and by geography. To that extent, there is constant mobility of herders across the different belts of Nigeria. It is, perhaps, time to consider setting-up of a commission for pastoralism regulated by law. This might provide recipes for resolving protracted farmer-herder conflicts. The Commission may even engage in or facilitate in-depth analytical studies with a view to providing lasting solutions for the benefit of people and the country.
Revamping of the activities of the Nomadic Education Commission with a view to complimenting the efforts of government in resolving the farmer-herder clashes.
It is in the same context that I want to reiterate the commitment of the Federal Government of Nigeria in supporting initiatives and programmes that will help resolve the lingering farmer-herder crises in the country.
As we gather eminent and distinguished personalities at this lecture series, the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice looks forward to receiving all-inclusive, holistic, practical and result-oriented submissions that would be keyed-into shaping our legal framework for a prosperous nation that we will be proud to bequeath the posterity.
Abubakar Malami, SAN
Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice