Natives of Plateau State’s Irigwe Chiefdom in Bassa Local Government Area have started independent dialogues to end farmer-herder conflicts that have persisted for decades in the area.
The dialogue facilitated by local teams independently established by farmers and herders started off with series of meetings by State authorities to broker peace between the warring communities.
“Worried” by the persistent killings and destructions over land resources in the community, Government facilitated the meetings “to have a structure that is locally put together and driven by people from the affected community to ensure that those issues that drive conflict are resolved,” said Director General, Plateau State Peace Building Agency, Mr. Joseph Lengmang.
Mercy Corps, an international nongovernmental organization working with community leaders, women, government officials and state actors to build peace in conflict communities will be training the volunteer peace teams “to improve their ability to peacefully manage disputes and prevent violent extremist recruitment tactics, to strengthen Early Warning and Early Response,” officials say.
Mercy Corps will be training the teams using “interest-based negotiation and mediation,” a model that equips stakeholders with skills to solve conflicts in the interest of affected parties, said Mr. Sani Suleiman, the Deputy Chief of Party, Mercy Corps, Monday.
Local authorities, Secretary to the Government of Plateau State, Prof. Danladi Atu said at the start of the training in Jos, will support the teams to implement peace projects for the greater good of the State.
Officials he said are looking to develop independent peace models but in the meanwhile, stakeholders are free to suggest workable options while being trained in existing international models.
“There is no perfect model. The perfect model is one that works so be free to suggest anything in the course of your training,” Atu said.
The peace committee commissioned with sub-teams already set up to oversee various tasks is leaving nothing to chance in ending conflicts within the locality, its Chairman, Richard Adamson said.
“In the past, our community was recognized and reputed as one of the most peaceful in Nigeria even during precolonial days. But along the line so many things happened and that love and peace was broken. We have recorded so many deaths and destructions and we have vowed that as a committee, this bloodshed must stop,” said Adamson.
Bassa Local Government Area, one of Plateau’s leading farming communities has since September 7, 2017 recorded series of attacks with hundreds of people killed and thousands displaced.
Several peace moves have been made by local and international organizations but the conflicts have persisted.
This being the second committee locally created to solve the conflicts might be the last, if all affected parties are open and sincere in their submissions, observers say.