BY ISAAC OLAMIKAN
Executive Director of the Environmental Rights Action and Friends of the Earth Nigeria(ERA/FoEN), Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, has condemned what he described as the politicisation of herdsmen and farmers conflict in Nigeria.
He made the clarification during a chat in his office recently.
“We condemn the politicisation of herdsmen and farmers conflicts in the country.
“First and foremost, the Savannah has been eaten up by desert encroachment.
“So, the issue of desertification in the north is real. But governments over the period seems to have neglected this. The herdsmen vegetation to feed their livestock has been degraded so there is no grazing land in terms of vegetation. We have to acknowledge that.
“Secondly, we condemn in its entirety any idea of cattle colonies which is not a welcome development. What is required is cattle ranching which will ensure that the lost vegetation of the Savannah of the north is properly restored.
“So, we need remediation works. We need to provide a conducive atmosphere. That’s what’s very essential.
“The herdsmen onslaught has a connotation of religious aspect. Many have said that there is a jihadist connotation to it which may be true. But what’s so essential is that global warming climate change has led to the loss of vegetation in the north.
“As a result, there is a march towards the south. Government needs to take it from that perspective and provide the land that’s lost in the north,” he posited.
On the infighting between opposing camps in Ogoni(Rivers State) over issues of oil exploration, Mr. Ojo asserted that multi-national oil companies thrive whenever there is a major conflict in a community.
“It must be noted from experience that oil companies thrive whenever there is a major conflict in the communities. The more such conflicts escalate the more they(oil companies) are able to use divide and rule tactics. It’s not surprising that that is the situation in Ogoni. What’s important is that the Ken Saro-Wiwa legacy must be preserved.
“That legacy is that the Ogonis can live without oil. They are productive farmers, they are self-sustaining. That’s where we(ERA) took our campaign on leave oil in the soil.
“The Environmental Rights Action(ERA) is campaigning for a post petroleum economy for the past 15 years or there about.
“But this post petroleum economy has been acknowledged and widely acclaimed on a global scale culminating in the Paris Agreement of 2015 where the world is now pushing for decabonisation of the global economy. You see cities here and there proclaiming that they would be carbon free. This is relevant for the Ogonis to understand.
“There are two warring factions in Ogoni. One is saying oil is a resource, the earlier we tap it for development the better. The other is saying that oil has been divisive. It has destroyed our livelihood and we are not able to plant.
“What is important is that since oil exploration stopped in Ogoniland the vegetation is beginning to recover from the environmental REC that was documented by the UNEP report of 2011 through their assessment report that it requires an initial $1billion to be committed to the clean up of Ogoni.”
BY ISAAC OLAMIKAN