This paper is focused on conflicts between farmers and herdsmen in the North Central geo-political zone of Nigeria. North central geo-political zone is made up of six states in Nigeria: Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger and Plateau States. The paper adopts the economic theories as its theoretical framework of analysis. The analysis gives insight into the main reason for the conflicts, which is economic interests, and the resultant competition for arable land occasioned by factors such as climate change, Boko Haram insurgency, urbanization, primitive livestock management, etc. From the analysis, it was found that the menace of herdsmen in Nigeria has resulted in the following: issues of educational development; lack of food production and by implication payment of school fees by parents; (iii) acute humanitarian crises which has resulted in dysfunctional educational development; (iv) tertiary institutions in the zone have been forcibly turned into grazing fields instead of research institutions; (v) hundreds of school children have been put out of school. In order to help remedy the ugly situation, particularly as it concerns the educational development of the zone, the researcher makes vital recommendations. These recommendations, if effectively implemented will not only enhance peace and order but will give rise to accelerated educational development of the zone.
The herdsmen and farmers clash did not start today; it dates back to the pre-colonial and colonial eras. The origin of the clash would be traced to early Fulani migration, trade and other economic activities. According to Ikokwu (2018) “the issue of Fulani migration has been on for more than 200 years”. Also, Yakassei (2018) observed that “the Fulani who are originally from Yemen and other Middle East countries migrated to North Central Zone during the colonial era because of mining activities”.
The nomadic Fulanis moved from one place to another in search of pastures. Their movements (migrations) and other trading activities extended beyond their ancestral roots to other parts of the world, Nigeria inclusive. The people of the North-central zone accommodated the migration but started to object when the migrants changed their behaviours, the form, as well as the purpose. The change of their purpose, form and character (behavior) did not just occur but was occasioned by factors such as climate change and desertification. Climate change, for instance, gave rise to drought that led to the death of many cows (Jibonoh, 2018). Again, the Savannah has been eaten up by desert encroachment while the clash has not only been politicized but now has religious and ethnic cleansing coloration (Odoghoh, 2018).
Today, the herdsmen have tactically seized Benue State and several other states in the geo-political zone as grazing reserve for their cattle. Such seizure, no doubt, has dire consequences for the educational development of the zone. This is because the intensification of the conflict has paralysed academic activities in the zone. Primary schools, secondary schools, as well as tertiary institutions are greatly affected. From January to April 2019,for example, about 30,000 primary school children in the Southern senatorial district of Nasarawa State were forced out of school (Oota, 201). Again, within December 2016 to December 2018, a number of public schools in Agatu, Logo and Guma Local Government Areas of Benue State were brutally attacked by suspected killer herdsmen, leaving the pupils either completely out of school or learning in deplorable conditions (Duru 2018). Sometime in February, 2018, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Sulyman Abdulkareem, accused herdsmen of poisoning the University’s dam with chemicals (New-Telegraph Editorial, 2018).
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