Armed attacks have persisted in Central Nigeria’s Plateau State villages for about two decades.
Widely considered to be “clashes” between farmers and herders, the ‘conflicts’ are mostly mistaken or escalated violence by uneducated youths, Mr. Mukaka Jigi, 70, a Fulani tribesman in Plateau State.
The real farmers or herders, Jigi said are not at war with each other.
“We both have valuables to lose during conflicts. Those children that don’t have farms or herds or anything to lose but something to gain when conflicts occur are the real problem,” he said.
A child who lacks formal and moral education, the aged man said is danger to himself and the society.
“Most of the attacks in farmer communities also occur in herder communities and are often carried out by the same group of people, usually criminals from different tribes and religions working together to create opportunities to rob or loot and bury their tracks,” Mr. Jigi told MK.
Sadly, said Jigi, 98% of their children grow up in bushes with little or no access to education.
“Our people hardly enrol children in school because it is expensive or too far for a child to attend and still assist at home with the animals after school,” he said.
Government establishing schools in villages and mandating parents to enrol children, Jigi believes will be first step to resolving “farmer-herder” conflicts.
“We cannot eliminate violent illiterates in a day but we can reduce their population by increasing school access and encouraging child enrolment.
“Government would also need to stop defining the attacks as farmer-herder conflicts and go after the criminals in the bushes rather than always organizing peace meetings with people that know nothing about the issues,” said the Janda villager in Gashish district, Plateau State.