5. Arewa Development – Peace & Security
Posted on July 12, 2015

Maintaining peace and security

by Aliyu Suleiman


Before the Dan Fodio jihad, Hausa states were consumed in internecine wars and this had a great impact on commerce as Arab traders avoided the trans-Saharan trade route into northern Nigeria for fear of being attacked. The Sokoto jihad unified the region and ended these wars. The resulting peace enabled traders to ply the trade route into Kano and the city blossomed as a commercial centre. Similarly, the spate of violent conflict in Northern Nigeria over the last 15 years has had a significant impact on commerce. These conflicts have not only prevented commerce from thriving, they have in many places shrunk hitherto vibrant commercial activity. The Boko Haram in particular, succeeded in wiping out entire markets and farming communities. A report by the Thisday newspaper estimated that, about half of the ten thousand shops in the famous Maiduguri Monday Market have been abandoned and about 35 percent of Igbo businessmen have fled Kano as a result of Boko Haram attacks. The report also quoted a businessman in Kaduna who lamented that he now makes less than 3 percent of what he used to earn in the past! Without finding a permanent solution to these conflicts, any progress will be easily wiped out by the next outbreak of violence.


Instead of a gap analysis, this time we will discuss the various types of violent conflicts and their underlying drivers. There are about five types of violent conflicts currently taking place in the region: Order

  1. Urban ethnic / religious conflict – occasional clashes between members of different ethnic / religious groups occurring in major urban centres. Kano, Kaduna, and Jos have being the most prone. As a result of these conflicts, Kaduna metropolis is now split into a predominantly Muslim Kaduna North, and on the other side of the river a predominantly Christian Kaduna South. Residents avoid living on the wrong side of the river for fear of what may happen to them in the next conflict. Similar situation exists in Jos. These conflicts are usually sparked by an incident feeding off long standing animosity and distrust. They usually result in a large number of casualties within a very short time but are mostly curtailed by the security forces within a week. For example, estimated deaths from the Kaduna sharia riots in 2000 range from one to five thousand.

  2. Farmer-pastoralist conflict – a Google search for “Fulani attack” will reveal several pages of news items on this type of violent conflict in various parts of Nigeria. These attacks occur across the whole country but are severest in the North Central region especially in Nassarawa, Benue, Kaduna, Plateau, and Taraba. While most of the news stories portend the Fulanis as the antagonists, there are many cases where they are on the receiving end of attacks from other groups - a channel television documentary highlighted the plight of about three thousand Fulani (including about one thousand children) who had to flee Taraba state with their seventeen thousand heads of cattle and seek refuge in Cross River state. Main cause of these conflicts is contention between nomadic herdsmen and sedentary farmers for land. Historically, the North West and North East have had delineated cattle routes and grazing areas reserved for transhumant pastoralists. As the population grew, these lands were sold off by local chiefs and converted to farm land. We then ended up with a situation where pastoralists (sometimes migrating from Niger republic) suddenly find their traditional route interrupted by a farm or even a new settlement. With no grazing option for their herd, they then drove their cattle through the farms destroying crops which have been cultivated over several months. Naturally the farmers tried to defend their crops and a fight ensues. Historically, the transhumant pastoralists left their home base mainly when the dry season sets in. They then migrate southwards passing through the north central region. This usually wasn’t a problem as the migration took place after harvest. However, as good grazing land became scarcer in their traditional grazing areas, more herdsmen have moved their base into the less densely populated North Central region thereby putting pressure on land resources. Wary of the consequences of allowing strangers to settle on their land, some locals attack the herdsmen to discourage them from settling.

  3. Order Cattle rustling – large scale cattle-theft is a recent development and occurs mainly in the states of Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna, and Plateau. While this is more of a crime, it usually results in conflicts as there tends to be a lot of suspicion as to who is doing the stealing. Sometimes herdsmen who loose cattle launch reprisal attacks either to recover their cattle or to steal someone else’s. Also, the rustlers frequently raid villages to loot, rape, and kill - hundreds have been killed in the villages of Zamfara and over two hundred vigilantes were killed in just one attack. In the neighbouring Katsina state, sixty-nine people were killed in one day across four villages. The recent rise in large scale cattle rustling is said to be driven by a market consisting of wealthy people who have decided to establish cattle ranches. As these people are unable to find a large herd of cattle for sale in the markets (herdsmen typically sell one or two cows at a time to meet urgent needs), rustlers have sprung up to provide them with an avenue for large scale cattle acquisition.

  4. Recurring rural attacks – these are frequently recurring, under-reported attacks on villages and rural communities. The attacks occur mainly at night, and tend to be attributed to “unidentified Fulani gunmen” but the truth is that most of the time no one is really sure who is behind these attacks. The reason for the attacks is not always clear but they are sometimes reprisals for earlier attacks. Deaths from these attacks range from tens to hundreds. About five hundred people were reported to have been killed in one night attack in Plateau state, while over a hundred people were killed in one night attack in Kaduna state. In Nassarawa, the Ombatse cult once killed over 55 police officers and 10 operatives of the SS in an ambush. In Wukari, there is an ongoing ethnic / religious cleansing where brother turns on brother based on religious differences. Over two thousand houses were destroyed in one attack, some right to their foundations. The reason for the conflict is tension over allocation of political and economic resources between the Christian Jukun on the one hand and the Muslim Jukun / Hausa settlers on the other.

  5. Boko Haram Insurgency – the boko haram insurgency has overshadowed all the other conflicts in terms of sheer scale of destruction and persistence. The group has killed over thirteen thousand people and displaced over 1.6 million predominantly in the North East. Much has been written about this in the media lately so will not be explored here further.

Purchase Further complications

Resolution of these conflicts is further complicated by a number of factors:

  1. Religious polarity – most ethnic clashes in the north tend to be between groups of opposite religions – the Muslim Fulani vs. the Christian Tiv, the Muslim Hausa vs. the Christian Berom, etc. These tend to draw other groups of the same religion into what is otherwise a localised ethnic conflict. For example the Zangon-Kataf clash between Muslim Hausa settlers and Christian Katafs over relocation of the local market, resulted in reprisal attacks in the urban areas of Kaduna and Zaria against Christians of all extraction. These then resulted in counter-reprisal attacks further escalating the violence.
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  3. Corrupt security forces – the police has the responsibility to maintain law and order and to prosecute offenders. They are hampered from doing a proper job by the politicisation of some of their cadre making some of them to take sides in conflicts, and by corruption which turns some of them into aggressors. For example, there have been cases of senior police officers seizing cattle from the Fulani. The army has not been left behind as the lack of success in combatting Boko Haram has been attributed to corruption in the procurement of supplies for front line troops.

  4. Proliferation of arms – given inability of police to protect them, people have acquired arms to defend themselves. There is therefore a significant proliferation of arms across the country. It is said that one can acquire an AK-47 for the sum of four hundred thousand naira. Some Fulani have had to acquire arms to defend themselves against well-armed cattle rustlers. In addition, various vigilante gangs and militias have sprung up and armed themselves to protect their communities. This possession of arms leads to further criminality like armed robbery and homicide.
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  6. online Pastoralism in a modernising world – many have complained that the transhumance pastoralism of the Fulani is unsustainable in these modern times and there is need for them to transition into a ranching system. To see why it is difficult for this to happen spontaneously, imagine a rational Fulani herdsman with say two hundred heads of cattle. He decides to go into ranching and needs to acquire a hundred hectares of land (this will be about half a hectare per cow, one hectare per cow tends to be the norm in countries with established ranching practice but this is Nigeria, we can definitely squeeze an extra cow in.) Let’s assume he gets the land at a very low price of ten thousand naira per hectare, so a total of one million naira. To raise the money he sells twenty heads of cattle at fifty thousand naira (quite a brave and potentially traumatic act for a Fulani herdsman but this one is rational.) He probably needs to sell another ten heads to raise the money to invest in his ranch (again this is quite conservative given that he needs to invest in irrigation to ensure that his cattle have food during the dry season.) Now his cost of providing forage has gone up from nearly nothing to quite a significant amount. But he cannot pass this on to the market as majority of producers will still sell at prevailing prices. Furthermore, he cannot protect his ranch from being invaded by another herdsman. So the settling down process (sedentarisation) has to be encouraged by the government and coordinated at a large scale. This is easier said than done - various government agencies (like the NLPD - National Livestock Project Department) and development agencies (like ILCA - International Livestock Centre for Africa) have pursued this objective for several decades with limited success. Though there have been successful cases of sedentarisation by some nomadic tribes around the world, this is usually a very long process and the Fulani have also been going through this process for decades. Fast tracking the process will require investing to provide land while encouraging nomads to settle in the land but this can be expensive. The government of the Sichuan province in China launched a plan to settle Tibetan nomads and this was estimated to cost USD2.6 billion. The cost covered construction of 1409 permanent settlements within a total area of 240,000 square kilometres (approximately equivalent to the area of the United Kingdom).

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  8. Long-standing animosity – there has been a long standing animosity between the majority Muslim Hausa / Fulani and some of the minority Christian tribes in northern Nigeria which provides a ready fuel for conflict. Historically, the Hausa-Fulani have raided some of the minority tribes for slaves and even today use derogatory words to describe their Christian neighbours. Fight for political supremacy in certain areas of Plateau, Kaduna, and Nassarawa states have further compounded this animosity and engendered mutual suspicion.

  9. High-level of youth unemployment – as discussed in the previous section, this provides ready recruits for anyone planning to cause trouble.

Measures for reducing conflict

The conflicts in northern Nigeria are very complex and one pre-requisite for finding a solution is for us to a rational outlook, set aside our affiliation with or hatred for any particular group, and push for the rational choices which will guarantee peace for all. Below are some measures which could help minimise conflict in the region:

  1. Demand accountability – the most important function of government is to secure the rights and freedoms of its citizens. Most other functions can be outsourced except for the maintenance of law and order. As state chief security officers, our governors should demand accountability for the maintenance of rule of law from the federal government and heads of the various security outfits. It is unacceptable that not a single senior officer has been sanctioned for lack of progress in tackling the Boko Haram insurgency for example. To facilitate this, we should publicly assess performance of commissioners of police and heads of the SS in various states. With current technological advancements, it will be easy to collate and report crime and conflict statistics and to publish these online. We should then demand removal of relevant heads of security outfits who are unable to demonstrate progress in maintaining rule of law in the areas under their jurisdiction

  2. Punish incitement and participation – anyone who breaks the law should ideally face the consequences. However, with the exception of the Zangon-Kataf crisis, there aren’t many notable cases where individuals were punished for inciting or participating in violence. This is partly for fear of re-igniting further conflict - the trial of Zamani Lekwot for his alleged role in the Zangon-Kataf crisis generated a lot of tension in Kaduna state. A number of protests were staged by both sides including one involving 300,000 kataf women. To avoid tension in future situations where people are held accountable for their actions, community and religious leaders should sign pacts endorsing such punishment and agree to let the law take its course. With the profileration of smartphones, it should be easy to record and identify perpetrators of violence and subsequently get them prosecuted in a transparent manner. In addition, the seemingly trivial incidents which spark crises (like the spat over mobile phone recharge card which apparently ignited the Wukari conflict,) should always be investigated to determine if they are premeditated and if so the people behind them identified and prosecuted.

  3. Manage sedentarisation – as discussed earlier, sedentarisation could help minimise farmer-pastoralist conflict. The controversial grazing reserve bill could be modified to facilitate this. Changes to consider include: (1) re-introduce the traditional cattle head tax (“jangali”) system to be collected by a central body, (2) compensate communities providing land for grazing reserves with the tax collected from the herdsmen staying on their land, (3) instead of creating a national grazing reserves commission, have an agency like the NLPD manage this as they have the institutional knowledge which will be required to minimise unintended consequences.

  4. Establish a roving reconciliation team – in many instances, conflicts escalate only after a sustained period of tension and animosity. With no one to resolve tension, violent conflict is an inevitable outlet. The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) or the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) should establish a standing reconciliation team which will proactively identify communities with ongoing tension and work with them to resolve this tension.

  5. Promote mutual respect – political correctness is the norm in many advanced countries and use of derogatory words like “nigger” has been informally outlawed. Similarly, hate speech and use of derogatory words like “arne” should be frowned upon particularly by our religious organisations. Granted that changing personal prejudice is almost impossible but preventing the open expression of prejudice has been a successful strategy for maintaining peace. Marshal Tito maintained peace for over 40 years in a divided Yugoslavia with a long history of political violence. He did this through a heavy dose of propaganda on the importance of respecting other ethnic groups as well as heavy handed suppression of separatism. Similarly, Paul Kagame of Rwanda has tried to heal the genocide the country went through partly by repressing the expression of ethnic identities in favour of one national identity. While these measures risk collapsing with the death of the individual driving them, we can avoid this outcome by institutionalising them and making it a compact between the different ethnic / religious groups.

Admittedly, these suggestions are not exhaustive. However, implementing them could go some way in preventing needless deaths and destruction of the economy.

Aliyu Suleiman is the Strategy Lead for Dangote Group and was a consultant at McKinsey and Company's London office for 7 years. He was a co-author of the McKinsey Global Institute report on Nigeria. He can be reached on asgachi@yahoo.com buying viagra100brand fromcanadaonline }}email spy, buscar telefono por gps, spy mobile app

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