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FULANI HERDSMEN AND NIGERIA POLITICAL INSTABILITY
The purpose of this study examines the effect of Fulani herdsmen and Nigeria’s political instability. The population of the study consisted of all the staff of political party in Benue State. The study adopted Ex-facto design, while random sampling technique was used in selecting 344 respondents. The structured questionnaire was used to elicit information from the respondents. Data collected were analyzed using percentage analysis. The finding of the study shows that there is a proportional effect of Fulani herdsmen on Nigeria political instability. The study recommended that, for institutionalisation of lasting democracy and political stability in Nigeria, her religious group, political affiliate, ethnic plurality notwithstanding, the wrongs of ethnicism must be righted. This can best be done by good governance. The nation needs a purposeful leadership that has a vision of how to place its citizens at the centre of political project without recourse to ethnic chauvinism and sees acquisition of political power as not an end in itself but a means for serving the collective welfare of its people regardless of their ethnic origin.
1.1 Background to the Study
The Fula people also known as Fulani in Hausa language, are a mass population widely dispersed and culturally diverse in all of Africa, but most predominant in West Africa. The Fulani’s generally speak the Fula language. A significant number of them are nomadic in nature, herding cattle, goats and sheep across the vast dry grass lands of their environment, keeping isolate from the local farming communities, making them the world’s largest pastoral nomadic group (Eyekpimi, 2016). They are massively spread over many countries, and are found mainly in West Africa and northern parts of Central Africa, but also in Sudan and Egypt. The main Fulani sub-groups in Nigeria are: Fulbe Adamawa, FulbeMbororo, FulbeSokoto, FulbeGombe, and the FulbeBorgu (Eyekpimi, 2016).
Nigeria as a nation state is under a severe internal socio-economic and security threat. At a more general level, the threat has special economic, political and environmental dimensions. Each of these dimensions has greatly affected the nation’s stability and can be traced to the Fulani-herdsmen and farmers clash, ethnic militant armies, ethnic and religious conflicts, poverty, insurgency, armed robbery, corruption, economic sabotage and environmental degradation (Damba, 2007).
Fulani Herdsmen’s activities have been escalating steadily in Nigeria; the killings going on in Benue earlier this year being the most recent indicator of the group’s growing threat to Nigeria’s political stability. Indeed, the group is viewed by many experts as a direct challenge the state’s corrupt nature and its general inability to address the expanding economic North-South disparity within Nigeria.
Nigeria encompasses 350 ethnic groups that speak more than 250 languages, with the primary division taking place among the Muslims and the Christians groups of the country. Political tensions over the equal distribution of political power and economic prosperity have long been key points of dissension between the two groups. The economic division between northern and southern Nigeria is expanding as well. Despite continuing growth in GDP, according to a recent report by the World Bank, 100 million Nigerians live in poverty in a country with a population of approximately 174 million.
Communal conflicts between Fulani herdsmen and host communities usually arise when grazing cattle are not properly controlled and consequently graze on cultivated plants like cassava, maize etc. in farms of host communities. Attempts by the owners of such farms to register their grievance of destruction of their livelihood (food crops and cash crops) by the cattle of Fulani herdsmen is always stoutly resisted thereby degenerating into communal conflicts. Host communities sometimes register their grievances by placing restrictions on movement and gracing of cattle in designated areas and enforcing compliance through coercive measures decreed by the host community vigilante which may take the shape of killing stray cattle or arresting and prosecution defaulters. When the communities attempt to moderate their activities or request their exit, the Fulani herdsmen become aggressive and attack the host community sometimes with the assistance of hired mercenaries. Fulani herdsmen normally attack their target communities at the time they are most susceptible such as mid-night or prayer days, when they are in their churches, incessantly killing people with sophisticated weapons, looting properties and burning houses. (Durojaiye, 2014) Fulani Herdsmen are “believed to have killed at least 1,229 people in Nigeria in 2014, according to the latest Global Terrorism Index (GTI)…” (Ludovica, 2014)
According to the political theories of Max Weber, political stability depends on the government's legitimate use of physical force. If the government cannot ensure the basic services it provides for people, such as security and the possibility of procuring food and shelter, it loses the power to enforce laws and political instability ensues. Political instability is associated with the concept of a failed state.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Nigeria is seriously threatened by Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis and therefore, considered to be a major potential threat affecting Nigerians mostly on the part of political stability of the country (Egodi, 2016). The Fulani herdsmen crisis is posing a serious obstacle to a successful political stability. Fulani herdsmen has become a major threat to the national security and development of Nigeria due to the fact that its increased operation has caused diversion and removed government attention on some key areas of the economy, as huge amount of human and material resources are channeled into curbing the menace (Egodi, 2016).
Conflict is a great predicament in any political administration, human society, and most times, it is predictable. In fact, history indicates that conflict is an on-going process in human relations and may occur within and among groups and communities. In the case of Nigeria, the frequent occurrence of Fulani herdsmen crisis has left adverse effects on political stability, socio-economic development of the people (Damba, 2007). In the course of these conflicts, security agencies have at certain times, taken up weapons to counter the attacks from the Fulani herdsmen, claiming to do so in self-defense. The study conducted by (Kassam, 2016)gave an overview of the general concept and causes of conflicts in Nigeria and, advocates for ethical principles such as the common solidarity of humanity by origin, forgiveness and tolerance that could engender cordiality and understanding rather than sustained hostility and suspicion in Fulani herdsmen and farmers relation in Nigeria.
Fulani herdsmen crisis no doubt have negative impact on the lives, property, food security and educational development in Nigeria. Though, there is the dearth of quantitative evaluation of the catastrophic attacks, available statistics has it that between June 2015 to December, January, 2018 Human Rights Watch in 2017, reported a total death toll of 1035 persons in more than 24 attacks. It was also reported that an estimate of 50 people were killed in NasarawaEgor (Nasarawa State) and Agatu/Logo (Benue State) in the June 2016 and recently lives were claimed in Niger in the April 23rd 2017 crisis between Fulani herdsmen and farmers. Fulani herdsmen attack apart from the loss of lives has also led to the destruction of arable farmland and valuable properties worth several billions of naira. The above scenario has dire consequences for political instability in particular and Nigeria in general.
All these have form the basis for the problem stated in this study, and this research work focuses on the effects of Fulani herdsmen crisis on political instability in Nigeria.
1.3 Objectives of the study:
The main objective of the study was to examine the effect of Fulani Herdsmen and Nigeria Political Instability while specific objectives were:
- To examine effect of power sharing on political instability in Nigeria
- To examine effect of multiple ethnic groups on political instability in Nigeria
- To examine effect of religious fanaticism on political instability in Nigeria
- To examine factors militating against political instability in Nigeria.
1.4 Research Questions
- What is the effect of power sharing on political instability in Nigeria
- What is the effect of multiple ethnic groups on political instability in Nigeria
- 3. What is the effect of religious fanaticism on political instability in Nigeria
- 4. What are the factors militating against political instability in Nigeria.
- There is no significant effect of power sharing on political instability in Nigeria.
- There is no significant effect of multiple ethnic groups on political instability in Nigeria.
- 3. There is no significant effect of religious fanaticism on political instability in Nigeria.
- 4. There is no significant effect of the factors militating against Fulani herdsmen attack on political instability in Nigeria.
1.6 Significance of the Study
The significance of this study can be viewed from the following perspectives.
1. One main significance of this study is that when completed, it would serve as a bridge for the gap that have been created between where previous works on this subject area stopped and today.
2 This study is significant in the sense that it’s finding would serve as a base and framework for future researchers to carry out further studies in the field of knowledge under study.
3. The study draws government, private individual and cooperate bodies to accept the fact that Fulani herdsmen crisis has a proportional effect on political stability.
1.7 Limitation of the Study
It is inevitable that a survey research of this nature must have some constraints which impact on this study. The materials for a proper and effective research work constituted a major limitation and even the decision to use questionnaire in data collection constituted some limitation of the study, that is, how to get the true and required information from the workers.
Finally, there was an anticipation of the problem of convincing the respondents on the filling of the questionnaires and to give the true and required information. But for the quick intervention the class representatives the departments took time to clear the air and convince their course mates, helped me to accomplish my assignment.