BEVERLY HILLS, May 24, (THEWILL) – About 7,000 Nigerians have died between 2015 and 2019 in the clashes between farmers and herders in the middle belt states of Benue and Nasarawa.
This was stated in a report titled: “Engaging Communities for Peace in Nigeria (ECPN),” funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The report, based on a study by international non-governmental organisation, Mercy Corps, also said the violence has cost the Nigerian economy $13 billion a year over the past five years.
The report was presented at Bon Elvis Hotels on Thursday in Abuja and witnessed by the paramount ruler of the Tiv, Tor Tiv James Ayatse; the Country Director, Mercy Corps, Darius Radcliffe; USAID Mission Director, Stephen Haykin, represented by USAID country Democracy Officer, Beatrice Reaud, and other community leaders from Benue and Nasarawa states.
The report said a programme of interventions in the middle belt states by Mercy Corps had helped to reduce conflict in the area by 13 per cent and succeeded in resolving 1,932 inter and the intra-community disputes.
“Peace and reconciliation lie at the heart of USAID’s global approach to promoting stability and security in conflict-affected areas,” Mrs Reaud, said at the closing event.
“The United States and Nigeria share the objective of reducing violence in the Middle Belt states by peacefully preventing and resolving farmer-pastoralist conflicts.
“We must look beyond the help that Mercy Corps through USAID has given us. We are grateful for the assistance, but [its ideas] must be repackaged an implemented under another name.
“If we don’t change our ways, these problems will continue to hurt us, and it is the poor and downtrodden who suffer most. If you engage in fighting, even if you win, you lose something.”
On his part, the Madakin of Lafia in Nasarawa State, Ishaku Dauda, said the USAID Mercy corp initiative had brought peace into their communities.
“We appreciate what they have done. They did not just help face the problem, they helped solve it.
“For instance, if it was a stream that was the cause of the conflict, they dug a borehole as a surplus for water usage for both the herders and farmers.”