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 The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has alleged that the federal government’s inaction was responsible for the lingering crises arising from disagreements between pastoralists and farmers in the country.


Addressing a press conference in Abuja Wednesday, the union which said it had watched the development with “heavy hearts” like millions of others, tasked the government to immediately act with a view to ending the crises.

National President of ASUU, Biodun Ogunyemi, reading a prepared text, tagged:”State of the Nation: Time to end the drift”, said government must take responsibility for the crises in the country.

“The Federal Government must take responsibility for failure to anticipate, manage and control the crisis. Government’s handling of the issue has fallen far short of protecting certain constitutional provisions on fundamental human rights.

“In particular, the Government has failed in enforcing Section 17 (2b) of the Nigerian Constitution which states that: “the sanctity of the human person shall be recognized and human dignity shall be maintained and enhanced”, it said.

While condemning the human lives lost and destruction of property that occasioned the various crises, the union tasked government to arrest the situation and bring perpetrators to book.

“ASUU condemns unreservedly and unequivocally the unjustified and unjustifiable loss of lives and property arising from the unwarranted conflicts.

“Our hearts and thoughts go to families and victims of the senseless acts. We condemn, in strong terms, those hiding behind the farmers and the pastoralists to incite the poor to mutual destruction.

“The Federal Government must deal, in accordance with the law, with all those who are established to have sponsored or committed such heinous crimes against fellow citizens. The rehabilitation of the affected communities must be a matter of priority for the Federal Government, “it noted.

The union pointed out that the insincerity of the federal administrations right from 1999 when the nation returned to democratic rule,in keeping with promises made to the people was responsible for what the country was going through at the moment.

“Nigerians had hoped for socio-economic opportunities that would improve their deplorable conditions, secured dwelling and working environment to safeguard their present and their future, as well as qualitative and life-enhancing educational provisions for transforming the citizenry and the country.

“These hopes, and many more, have been dashed. Not only that, the hope for any meaningful change in the near future appears bleak and is getting bleaker each passing day.

“From Olusegun Obasanjo to Musa Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan and, now, Muhammadu Buhari, each wing of the ruling class in the saddle has made promises it never meant to keep, “the union said.

Regretting that the herdsmen/farmers clashes have claimed many lives and property worth several billions of naira destroyed, ASUU said” the recent problem of communal, violent conflicts, generally referred to as ‘farmers-pastoralists conflicts’, needs an urgent national solution.”

According to the union, “On all sides, the chief beneficiaries are not the cattle workers (called “pastoralists”), not the farmers, not the millions of Nigerians who are fed with stories of ethnic hostility and hatred arising from a manipulated faulty interpretation of the conflicts.”

The text read:”The ‘farmers-pastoralist conflict’ is an outcome of a combination of environmental ecological crisis, and socio-historically derived problems which the ruling class of Nigeria, in its different wings, has been manipulating to suit its economic and political goals. The result is, everywhere, a creation of conflicts and antipathies among people who have coexisted in peace, mutual respect and integration for long periods in their history.

“The recent antipathy and violence evolved in conditions of land hunger and environmental hardships, which themselves, are not produced by farmers or cattle workers (‘’pastoralists’’). Severe changes in natural, climatic conditions which triggered a large hunger for land and, consequently, hardship in the availability of feed for cattle was a significant causal factor.

“As a result, the ‘small’ land owners gradually lost their access to land, handing the business mainly to rich farmers, for whom they have now become workers. The Nigerians described as ‘’herdsmen’’ are employed cattle attendants working for large cattle owners.

“They are an equivalent of poor peasants working for rich farmers. What is called the ‘’farmers-pastoralist conflict’’ is really a classic case of poor hired (pastoral) workers inevitably being forced into a ‘war’ against poor peasants for, ultimately, the main benefit of rich farmers. This is the class nature of the crisis.

“The competition for land has thus created antipathies and antagonisms between farmers and cattle workers, since the survival of both depends on land. This antagonism has been deepened by the superficial interpretation which sees ethnic hatred as the motivating factor in the crisis, and generated more tension among the people in areas far away from the conflict areas. Given the propensity of Nigerian rulers to take political advantage of conflicts, the class nature of the conflict has been obliterated and the ethnic aspect pronounced as the core issue.

“ASUU asserts that the chief beneficiaries of the crisis are the rich cattle farmers. The victims are the poor peasant farmers and the hired cattle ‘farmers’ who have been forced by their function of servitude to master employers to kill one another, in the interest of their masters. This is not new. It is a classic case of ruling class logic: divide and rule!

As usual, Nigeria’s rulers from all ethnic wings are making maximum political use of the crisis for which their class is responsible.

” The ruling class is busy calculating political gains to be made from the crisis. The Nigerian people – workers, farmers, students, the unemployed, all victims of the crisis, are now being fed with crude religious and ethnic interpretations of the conflict.

“The Federal Government must take responsibility for failure to anticipate, manage and control the crisis. Government’s handling of the issue has fallen far short of protecting certain constitutional provisions on fundamental human rights.

“In particular, the Government has failed in enforcing Section 17 (2b) of the Nigerian Constitution which states that: “the sanctity of the human person shall be recognized and human dignity shall be maintained and enhanced”.

“The people of Nigeria should not be misled. As usual, the chieftains of religious and ethnic sectarianism – the ruling class weapons for pursuing their sectarian interests, have been busy trying to cover, blur, disguise and deceive people of Nigeria about the real, socio-economic sources of the conflict.

“They have been selling to the Nigerian people divisive, parochial religious and false ethnic explanations. Nigerian people should not be fooled. A war of the poor against the poor, cattle farmers versus peasants (farmers versus pastoralists), when it blossoms, will only benefit the big cattle farmers and their class allies across religions and states. They will negotiate for peace among themselves after mutual destruction by peasant farmers and pastoralists, and what is equally dangerous, and possible generalized ethno-religious conflict in Nigeria. The solution, ultimately, is political.”

ASUU said the ” issue of restructuring has become the major preoccupation of Nigeria’s ruling class” , noting that” in the hands of Nigeria’s rulers, the issue of restructuring is not about how the downtrodden, exploited and suffering people of Nigeria will free themselves from economic and political domination. ”

” As Nigeria’s ruling class treats it, the issue of restructuring is essentially about the redistribution of power – economic and political, within the dominant factions of the class. It is not about how the impoverished, exploited classes could take significant control of their lives or move close to achieving political and economic well-being through the exercise of their political power.

“This is not surprising in Nigeria. Ruling class projects and internal problems, and competition for power and wealth acquisition and crisis within it, are usually presented by the ruling class itself, falsely, as national projects and problems.

“Competition for power and wealth within the ruling class is usually sold to the people as defense of the interests of ‘’the people’’ (ethnic compatriots) when, in fact, the real issue is the competition for accumulation of wealth and power. The people of Nigeria from all ethnic groups, in every state, usually watch in awe and shock as their ‘leaders’ acquire huge wealth and property while those they claim to lead suffer poverty, disease, misery and premature death.

“No wing of the ruling class in our country has been faithful to the yearning of the poor and the oppressed co-ethnics. Regime after regime, our rulers have come with the same promises to the people: more jobs, better health care, better education, more security and safety. But after elections, the people’s misery remains everywhere in all states, within all ethnic groups, among adherents of all religions. In every state, workers, the farmers, students and the unemployed – the majority, have been ‘assured’ that the distribution of political positions and responsibilities will be done in the interest of the people.

“In reality, after the elections, the people have watched, betrayed, as their representatives acquire huge wealth while those who placed their trust in their representatives wallow in poverty, hunger, disease, and hopelessness. This is the picture everywhere in our country. Poverty is Pan-Nigerian. And the control of wealth is confined to coalitions of ruling class politicians and their allies, all over Nigeria as well.

“The debate on restructuring goes on within the context of domination of the economic, political, educational, and all welfare institutions in Nigeria by the same group of Nigerians, from all states and all geopolitical zones, who have since 1960 used their political power as a tool for collective looting of the country’s resources.

” The debate about restructuring is, at the base, about how to satisfy the demand for redistribution of political and economic power among the contending ruling class groups in the country. The debate is conducted without the participation of the people of Nigeria; it is dominated by coalitions of ethno-nationalist leaders, politicians, businessmen and women (contractors), and their intellectuals.”

It further stated that “ASUU’s view is that restructuring should not be a game of legitimizing the power formula among Nigeria’s ruling class.”

“Within the context of ruling class political culture in Nigeria, the fear of domination in favour of specific ruling class groups is a genuine concern; since our Constitution has an egalitarian force.

“There is a genuine history of cheating and oppression of those we call “ethnic minorities” in Nigeria. But we need to understand that it is the ruling class game to divide the people so as to dominate them. Our country is still haunted by the ‘‘minority problem’’ because the ruling class has no answer to it, “it further stated.



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