Former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd) on Tuesday said Nigeria loses $13.7billion annuallyÂ to the farmers/herders clashes in the country.
Abdusalami also said in 2016 alone, 2,500 were killed while 62,000 were displaced in Kaduna, Benue and Plateau States.
He made these facts known while addressing the opening of a one-day forum on Farmer-Herder relations in Nigeria held at Maizube Farms near Minna, the Niger State capital.
According to him, â€œWith respect to the economic impact, the federal government loses $13.7 billion annually as a result of farmer/herdersâ€™ conflicts in Benue, Kaduna, Nasarawa and Plateau States. Averagely, these four states lost up to half (47 percent) of their internally generated revenue (IGR).
â€œThe hidden cause of these conflicts on every sphere of our national life is enormous. It has been estimated that about 2, 500 persons were killed nationwide in 2016.â€
The former head of state said it was imperative for governments at all levels to put in place appropriate policies and responses that would guide against reoccurrence of farmers/herdersâ€™ clash across the country.
Abdulsalami said the recent crisis in Plateau, Benue and other states that had led to loss of lives, property, displacement of persons and families, untold hardships to communities and individuals affected â€œis a wake-up call to all relevant stakeholders, states and federal government, legislatures, traditional rulers, civil society organisations, security agencies and communities on the need to address these deadly conflicts that are expanding gradually to other states in the country.
â€œThe current situation is threatening the fragile peace of Nigeria.â€
Abdulsalami, however, noted that farmers and herders have had beneficial and cordial relationships with minimal conflict in the past and had also have mechanisms of resolving them without resulting to destructive acts of violence against one another but regretted that â€œthere is a breakdown of communal trust, conflict resolution mechanisms and these conflicts have become deadly.â€
He commended the Search for Common Ground for its initiative and for collaborating with the General Abdulsalami Abubakar Institute for Peace and Sustainable Development Studies, expressing optimism that the forum should recommend sustainable solutions to farmers/herdersâ€™ clashes in the country.
Project analyst for Search for Common Ground, Bukola Adeleye, in his address, traced the causes of farmers/herdersâ€™ clashes to struggle for control of arable land and water in the affected areas, saying the conflicts had little or no relationship with religion and ethnicity.
A communique is expected to be released at the end of the one-day event.