The presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has given a clue on how the worsening Middle-Belt crisis can be solved, as he decried the level at which insecurity in the “Food Basket” region of Nigeria has cost Nigeria a lot of hardship with millions of human and material resources lost into the unending melee.
In his recent visit to Plateau State, condemned the level of insecurity being witnessed at the country’s Middle-Belt region, contending that “Plateau is the economic hub of the Middle-Belt, but insecurity has, over the years, forced it to lose that status.”
He, however, promised residents of the state that if elected president, he would restore peace to all parts of the state by dialoguing with all groups and critical stakeholders so as to restore the state to its status as the most peaceful in the country.
Atiku, who is campaigning on a promise to “Get Nigeria Working Again,” referring to his Policy Document released late 2018, said, he believed that Nigeria’s “security is multi-dimensional. It has gone beyond armed defence to include protection of democratic and constitutional values like food security, peace, human, political and economic security, likewise, resolving the unfair access to democratic dividends to reduce internal armed conflicts, insurgencies, crimes and militancy”
In his Policy Document, Atiku had stated that the objective of his government if elected into power would be “to contain the current challenges of security in Nigeria through the deployment of good governance, visionary leadership and politics of inclusiveness that will reduce citizens’ frustration and alienation and eliminate the compulsion to take up arms against the society or fellow countrymen.”
He also said he intended to prioritise the restoration of citizens’ confidence in Nigeria as “one indivisible, indissoluble, ethnically diverse but strong country to protect them and secure socio-economic benefits.”
Most importantly, Atiku said he planned to tackle the issue of non-cooperation and coordination among security agencies through technology by using cutting-edge technologies to minimize duplication of efforts, guard against mishandling of information, and enhance information sharing.
Atiku, who had expressed his strong belief in restructuring the Nigerian political landscape also said he intended to restructure Nigeria’s entire security sector and strengthen peace and security mechanisms, in order to eliminate insecurity in different parts of the country. These, are the means by with the Waziri of Adamawa said he would tackle the security challenges in the country.
It will be recalled that Nigeria’s Middle-Belt region popularly referred to as Nigeria’s “Food Basket” had come under renewed attacks since 2015 and conflicts between herdsmen and pastoralist farmers have taken a deathly turn with increased attacks and the displacement of Nigerians from their communities.
These incidents which many believed had also led to an increase in food prices across the country, in the last quarter of 2018, had also made analysts at the Financial Derivatives Company (FDC) to project that Nigeria’s inflation rate would increase marginally by 0.07 per cent to 11.35 per cent.
The FDC report projected that the rise in the headline inflation would be influenced by increasing prices of food items in the country caused by insecurity in agrarian states of the Middle Belt; especially the farmers and herdsmen clashes in the Middle Belt region of the country which had led to a decline in agricultural output and an increase in the prices of commodities such as onions, pepper and melon.
The insecurity in the region had also been blamed on a number of factors which include increased desertification and the infiltration of the region by insurgents from neighboring African countries.
A study by the Mercy Corps on the Effects of Farmer-Pastoralist Conflict in Nigeria’s Middle Belt on State, Sector, and National Economies found that Nigeria stands to gain up to $13.7 billion annually in total macroeconomic progress if peace between farmers and pastoralists is restored in Benue, Kaduna, Nasarawa, and Plateau states alone. The study also found that States affected by farmer-pastoralist conflicts lost an average of 47% of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) due to these conflicts.