President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday admitted in Kaduna that the activities of the Boko Haram Islamic sect had overstretched the nation’s security and adversely affected the nation’s economic growth.
The President, who was represented by Vice President Namadi Sambo at the opening of an international conference on security and development challenges of pastoralists in West and Central Africa, also noted that criminals had been masquerading as pastoralists to terrorise the country.
The conference with the theme, “The role of pastoralists in preventing insurgency and conflicts for sustainable peace and national security,” was organised by the office of the National Security Adviser in the Presidency.
The President said, “The frequency of drought in the northern part of the country has enhanced constant movement towards the southern parts of the country in search of greener pastures. The movement has exposed pastoralists to a lot of challenges and loss of herds due to rustling, diseases and associated conflicts.
“The intensity and diversity of conflicts over the last few years has reached an alarming proportion with the attendant loss of lives and property. This has unfortunately, been more predominant in Plateau, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Benue, and Taraba states. Other northern states are also not free from these security challenges.
“Such challenges have also been reported in some states in the southern parts of this country. The seed of conflict has continued to pose serious challenges to the nation’s security and economic growth. We are all aware of the threat posed to the nation by activities of the Boko Haram insurgents, some relying on the lingering pastoralists/farmers clash and masquerading as pastoralists to wage war against the state.
“Lately, this objective is yet to be fully realised owing to the resilience of the pastoralists and if that objective was to be realised, it would have been at a great cost to our country. I call on stakeholders, community leaders, religious leaders, youth groups and political leaders to continue to provide atmosphere for peace and brotherhood rather than resorting to conflict and violence which serves no useful purpose.”
He said the resilience of the pastoralists had ensured that the plan by those he regarded as enemies of the state did not come to pass.
Also, speaking at the event, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, stressed the need for a regional solution to the constant clashes between farmers and pastoralists.
He said, “There have been reports of some of these migrant foreign pastoralists carrying dangerous weapons and assault rifles.
“This is not the usual pastoralists that we know in Nigeria, who for decades have lived in harmony with their communities, criminality has increased especially with the menace of cattle rustling. The issue is no longer an agricultural problem. It is a national security problem and we need an integrated set of solutions that include agriculture and security.”