The Political Phrase ‘Farmers-Herders Clashes’ Must Be Proscribed

By Ikenga Chronicles June 25, 2018

— Fredrick Nwabufo

The first approach to solving a security problem is stripping it of all political pretences and nuances. The killings in Plateau, Benue, Zamfara and other places should be properly phrased.‎

The casual resort to tagging or reducing mass killings or massacres to “farmers-herders clashes‎” is sadism. It mocks the dead and drives a dagger deeper into the wounds of the bereaved.

Nigeria is at present an island of blood. Too many souls have been dispatched to the place yonder untimely.‎

Framing the killings in the central part of the country as “herdsmen-farmers clashes” is skirting around a serious issue. What happened in Plateau at the weekend is pre-meditated massacre. What happened in Benue, where Catholic priests and parishioners were killed, is a deliberate massacre not “herdsmen-farmers” clashes. What happened in Taraba, where a seminary was attacked, is intentioned criminality not “herdsmen-farmers” clashes and so is that of Zamfara.‎

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As a matter of fact, I have always given this government the benefit of the doubt on matters of security.

But there have been shards of inconsistencies in the excuses it gives for the killings in the north central region lately.

First, the government said the killers were not Nigerians – that they were foreign invaders. Even President Muhammadu Buhari said the killers were aliens from Libya.‎

However, the government later changed its narrative and said anti-open grazing laws were the smoulders of the killings.

Second, John Agim, defence spokesman, said the killers were political thugs hired by desperate politicians to cause disharmony in the area.

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But Dan Ali, defence minister, said openly that for peace to reign in the north central region – that is, for the killings to stop – all anti-open grazing laws must be suspended, implying that the laws were the reason for the killings.

Who then are the political thugs that will benefit from the suspension of the anti-open grazing laws? Is there an anti-open grazing law in Plateau? Too many inconsistencies. ‎

By the way, last week, the president visited communities in Bauchi where some residents were killed by a rainstorm. The visit was given copious publicity, perhaps to show the president still commands delirious followership.

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Will the president take deft action on the killings in Plateau state, and even pay a visit to the area? Or will he tag the killings “farmers-herders” clashes as he often does? ‎ Or is there no political profit in visiting Plateau?

At this point, the president must do something about the security architecture. What is the sense in having heads of security whose personal squabble is affecting their job and who are in egotistic competition with one another?

These killings should have been stopped before now. ‎The recent carnage in Plateau is just one too gruesome.

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These souls slain on the backwaters of a crimson plateau must be given a farewell of justice.


  • Fredrick Nwabufo‎ is a writer, journalist and media entrepreneur
  • He can be reached on Twitter: @FredrickNwabufo, Facebook: Fredrick Nwabufo‎
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