ECOWAS and the Government of Nigeria are spearheading the renewed efforts aimed at tackling the problems associated with transhumance and its attendant security concerns.
Conferring with the Nigerian Minister of Interior, General Abdurahman Danbazou (Rtd) and his team at the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja, Nigeria on the 15th of January 2018, the President of the ECOWAS Commission Marcel de Souza said the cooperation between the two sides had become imperative giving the complex nature of the problem of transhumance.
He told his guests that the clashes between herders and farmers have become incessant following the occurrence of pockets of draught leading to increased wave of movements of cattle to the coastal areas of the region.
“And if herders are moving with arms at a time when there is a reduced number of arable land, this has a serious security implication. Whereas it is the ECOWAS Commission that regulates the movement of arms into West Africa” The ECOWAS Commission President added.
President de Souza lamented poor commitment by national governments of States to the ECOWAS protocol on Transhumance where parties to the conflict are unaware of the provisions of the Protocol with regards to corridors which provide grazing opportunities.
With the concurrence of the Nigerian side, a high-level inter- ministerial conference will be convoked sometime in the month of February 2018 to find amicable solutions to the problems.
The Inter-Ministerial meeting comprising appropriate Ministries will be supported by designated Focal Persons from their end as well as relevant Directorate from the ECOWAS Commission.
Stating his Mission to the Commission earlier, Gen Danbazou maintained that the dimensions to regional security have become very worrisome with the Herder- Farmers clashes occurring alongside terrorists attacks.
He said the government of Nigeria is seeking collaborative support to tackle the drivers of dangerous cross border activities which was identifies as the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.
“Clashes between Cattle Herders and Farmers are tending to be more prevalent in Nigeria owing to its size and population. We think that we and ECOWAS should come together to look at the wider dimension. We require stability in the region hence this high-level conference is being proposed to examine among others, the ecologicaldimension such as desertification and draught” The Minister added.
Giving further insights during the meeting, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Trade, Customs, and Free Movement Mr. Laouali Chaibou maintained that the problem associated with Transhumance cut across almost all the countries in West Africa even as he noted that the corridors created by the Protocol on Transhumance have been blocked. He submitted that although the interlinking trafficking in arms have worsened the situation, getting Member States to implement regional laws is now posing an even bigger challenge.
The President of the ECOWAS Commission was supported at the meeting by Vice President Edward Singhatey, ECOWAS Commissioners and Directors while Minister Danbazazu’s team comprised the Commandant General of the Nigerian Civil Defence Corps Muhammadu Gana, a Representative of the Ministry of Agriculture as well as Immigration chiefs.