Everywhere as Grazing Land: Interrogating the Pastoralist Question in Nigeria

Trans humance pastoralism has been a long practice in Nigeria. It involves the movement of herders with their herds from one location to the other in search of pastures and water. In the course of the movements, herders have increasingly been coming into contact with sedentary farmers. Such encounters have largely been acrimonious with tales of destruction and killings on daily basis. And this has continually affected orderliness and peaceful coexistence of people in the country. Perhaps, the most pressing problem in the country in the recent time is how to address the pastoralist issue. Due to the rampancy and the spread of the conflicts associated with the pastoralists, this study situates the pastoralists issue within the context of national question in Nigeria. The study argues that the frequent grazing conflicts have often been interpreted with the coloration of ethnic, regional and religious sentiments; and the foundations upon which the ethnoreligious interpretations are erected are faulty. As an alternative to the faulty interpretation, this study locates reasons for migration and recourse to violence in unrestrained grazing practice, state failure, presence of small arms and light weapons, poor understanding of the problem at hand and lack of political will on the part of government to tackle the incidents. It therefore makes policy suggestions on how to address the pastoralist question in the country.