Article: Town Planning and Security In Nigeria

Town planning has been defined as the art and science of ordering the use of land and communication routes so as to achieve optimum safety, economy, security, aesthetics and social benefits for mankind.

Therefore town planning is directly related to “security, economy, safety, and social” life of citizens of any nation.

Talking of security, Nigeria as a nation has overtime been faced with series of security challenges ranging from Niger Delta militants , Boko Haram, Benue killings, to Jos massacre to mention a few. Then one may begin to ponder, ‘Is there any significant relationship between the ordering of land uses and the aforementioned security issues in Nigeria?” Tensions between ethnic groups have in one way or the other been rooted in allocation of resources and contested land rights. Land as natural resources is beneficial to mankind for various reasons which include the following:

• Agricultural Uses i.e. .Cultivation of crops for food production and Raring of animal and for grazing

• Building of houses for shelter

• Transportation routes

• Sources of mineral resources such as crude oil, limestone, lead, tin, coal etc.

These and many more are the benefits accruing from land as a natural resource. An obvious manifestation of these benefits lies on the economy of Nigeria.

For instance, the Fulani indisputably represent a significant component of the Nigerian economy. They constitute the major breeders of cattle, the main source of meat, the most available and cheap source of animal proteins consumed by Nigerians. The Fulani (North) own over 90% of the nation’s livestock population which accounts for one-third of agricultural GDP and 3.2% of the nation’s GDP (Eniola, 2007).

Furthermore, the contribution of the Fulani to the local food chain and national food security cannot be overstressed. The Fulani, with their dominance in the Sahel region, are the best known and most numerous of all the pastoral groups in Nigeria. (Eniola, 2007).

However, any hindrance in the means of survival of citizens may pose as a threat to the social life which may invariably have a downstream effect on the security of the citizens.



Agricultural land use in Nigeria includes:

• Cultivation of crops for food and cash-crop production
• Rearing of animal and grazing for livestock.

Change in Climate which refers to alter of the atmospheric composition of the earth and balance of the equilibrium between the natural Green House Gasses (GHGs) ultimately lead to global warming. which has affected crop production in a number of ways. For Instance, uncertainties and variation in the pattern of rainfall, floods and devastated farmlands, causes pest and diseases migrate in response to climate change while high temperatures smothers crop.

According to Idowu et al (2011), Climatic variation between the Northern and Southern parts of Nigeria contributes to the distribution of animals in the country. Generally, the large ruminants, geese, guinea fowls, and turkeys are more common in the northern part of the country. The availability of natural grasses for grazing is very limited and highly dependent on rainfall which is low in the most northern part of Nigeria. The southern parts of the have more rainfall, more wetter and grazing lands.

However, as a result of unequal distribution of grazing land in the whole of Nigeria, the insufficiency of grazing land in the North has resulted to the migration of herdsmen with their herds towards the southern part where there is much availability of green grass for grazing.

Naturally, nomadic herdsmen by their nature are migrants who leave their traditional abode in search of greener pasture for their flocks. In most cases, their movement is caused by the absence of good and veritable land for their flock to feed on.

The environmental degradation is perceived to be contributing enormously to the deterioration in ecosystem services to the environment of various communities. In the recent times, Nigeria has witnessed series of violent communal clashes arising from the activities of the nomadic herdsmen who move about on a daily basis with their cattle in search of water and green pastures. They are on the streets in most of the cities and could also be found operating in the remotest villages in various states of the country. (Imo 2017)

As the state cannot regulate the mutual coexistence of its citizens in the harmonious sharing of the competed resources, the parties may have to resolve to struggle among themselves with no retreat, no surrender and for the survival of the fittest. The failure of the state, for example to resolve the ‘settler/ ‘indigene’ identity and the inherent struggles over resources can be adduced to have brought dangerous dimensions of economic and political elements in the Fulani pastoralists and farmers’ conflicts (Fiki and Lee, B. 2004: 24-48).


Issues bordering on local community security, safety and development are paramount in the enhancement of governance and increase or decrease in agitation for control of resources as well as encroachment of the rights of others. All these have implications for survival and struggles between or amongst communities. Again, local resistance to state policies is central in resource-use through strengthening of community capacity to manage resources and deal with conflicts.


Hence, security is a framework for intervention and conflicts. Since insecurity gives ways to conspiracy, conflicts are inevitable.
The object of security is to primarily advance the well-being and possessions of the persons involved; while the survival of the state is secondary. In other words, when the character and nature of the state do not seem to protect the security of the citizens, their freedom and choices completely shift away from the state to individuals or groups as the foci of security.


Recent Nomadic Herdsmen and Farmers Clashes in Nigeria as Compiled by Some National Dailies’ News Headlines

The attacks of nomadic herdsmen are on the increase. While many have divergent opinions on the causes of clashes between them and farmers, it has be reported that the Fulanis under the Cattle Breeders Association claim that they are being attacked by gangs from farming communities who steal their cattle and they are just defending themselves. According to the 2015 Global Terrorism Index, these Fulani militants are the forth deadliest militant group in the world with a record killing of about 1229 people in 2014.


Recently, the country recorded series of clashes between herdsmen and farmers resulting to loss of lives and properties. Some of the clashes in Nigeria as compiled by online and national dailies‘news headlines are as follows:

• February 2016: A clash between herdsmen and farmers in Benue State, 40 more people were killed, about 2,000 displaced and not less than 100 were seriously injured (Duru, 2016).

• March 2016: About 500 people were killed by rampaging herdsmen following a siege on Agatu Local Government Area of Benue State. The communities affected include Aila, Akwu, Adagbo, Okokolo, Ugboju, Odugbeho, Obagaji and Egba (Premium Times, March 12, 2016).

• April 2016: Fulani herdsmen attacked two villages and killed 15 people in Gashaka Local Government Area of Taraba State (April 13, 2016, Punch).

• April 2016: Fulani armed men attacked farmers in some communities in Lagelu Local Council Area at night, killed a guard and carted away valuables worth millions of Naira (April 26, 2016, Thisday).

• April 2016: Fulani herdsmen attacked seven villages and killed about 40 persons in Nimbo in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State (April 26, 2016, Vanguard).

• June 2016: A 46 year old renowned farmer was shot by gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen in Ossissa community in Ndokwa East Local Government Area of Delta State (June 18, 2016, Punch). Also, about 59 persons were reported to have been killed following recent attacks on Benue communities such as Ugondo, Turan and Gabo Nenzer in the Logo Local Government Area of the state by suspected herdsmen (June 20, 2016, Punch).

• August 2016: Herdsmen reportedly numbering over 50, armed with machetes disrupted the peace of Ndiagu community of Attakwu, Akegbe-Ugwu in Nkanu-West Local Government Area of Enugu State. A Catholic Seminarian Lazarus Nwafor & severely injured four members of the Ogbodo Nwarum family (September 4, 2016, The Sun).

• October 2016:Armed Fulani herdsmen opened fire on villagers who attempted to stop their cattle from grazing their farmlands in Umuekune village of Irete community in Owerri West Local Government Area of Imo State. Several people were wounded in the ensuing stampede with two of the injured on danger list (June 5, 2016, New Telegraph).

• January 2017: A fresh crisis between Fulani herdsmen and Idoma farmers at Okpokwu Local Government in Benue State. Left not less than five people dead and several others injured (January 24, 2017, Nigeria Newspapers). Also, Fulani herdsmen attacked Rafin Gona and Gbagyi villages in Bosso Local Governemnt Area of Niger State. At least 6,000 persons displaced and nine people killed including a police Inspector and an Assistant Superintendent Officer of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (January 16, 2017, Daily Nigeria News) {Imo, C. K.:}.

Tensions between ethnic groups rooted in allocation of resources, electoral competition, fears of religious domination, and contested land rights have amalgamated into an explosive mix.

Some scholars have identified different factors which include climate changes, the migration further south, the growth of agro-pastoralism, the expansion of farming on pastures, the invasion of farmlands by cattle, assault on non-Fulani women by herders, blockage of stock routes and water points, fresh water scarcity, burning of rangelands, cattle theft, inadequate animal health care and disease control, overgrazing on fallow lands, defecation on streams and roads by cattle, extensive sedentarisation, ineffective coping strategies, ethnic stereotyping, and the breakdown of conflict intervention mechanisms as the root causes of such violence in rural areas

Corroborating the above reports, Abass (2012) contends that the major source of tensions between pastoralists and farmers is basically economic, with land related issues accounting for the majority of the conflicts. This can then be situated within the broader context of the political economy of land struggle, traceable to a burgeoning demography in which there is fierce competition for fixed space to meet the demands of the growing population (Olabode & Ajibade 2010; Solagberu 2012).


Oil wealth often influence and shape the structure of Nigeria’s politics and economy. Its significance informs a contest for power and authority, where ethnic minorities who inhabit in oil bearing land continually seek to reassert claim to own land and oil under it. Resource laws such as the Land Use Act of 1978 and Decree 13, 1996, vested legitimate rights and authority over resource ownership in the federal government. Meaning the Nigerian State negotiates the terms and conditions for oil exploration with the multinational companies (MNCs). The dispossession of right to participate by local communities in oil extraction through the above mentioned Acts/Decrees reveal that the power chiefly lies with the state (along with military/political elites and the MNCs) – one key component behind the lingering conflict/‘militia’ activities in Niger Delta.

In Nigeria, prior to the discovery of oil, exploration of natural resources was primarily controlled by the regional authorities. This later altered in a way (such as Land Use Act 1978; and Decree 13, 1996) that dispossessed local people from the rights to land ownership paving the grounds for petro-capitalism’1. This can be seen as one of the key factors for various aspects of grievances (Onuoha, 2005; Oluwanyi, 2010; Obi, 2009), and feeling of marginalisation among the local communities (Tamuno, 1970; Odukoya, 2006), particularly for the ethnic groups such as Ijaws and Ogonis. It is argued that such feelings of grievances and marginalisation have triggered the emergence of protests against the state (Watts, 2007; Omeje, 2005). Initially, the protests were non-violent but later adopted some violent character where the protesting groups engaged in bombing of oil pipelines, kidnapping of oil workers and confrontation with Nigerian military (Cuvelier, et al, 2014; Ukiwo, 2007). Conflicts generated from oil-governance policies, therefore, can be seen from multiple lenses.



From the above incidences of crises, LAND has been a common factor of conflict because:

• The Fulani herdsmen needs vast area of green LAND for grazing in the process, they migrate and trespass into
• Farm LANDS and destroyed crops cultivated by farmers,
• As a result of unavailability of LAND allocated for transportation routes for Headsmen and their herds.
• Also, Oil exploration and spillage on LANDS in the Niger Delta regions
As this affects the entire part of the Nigeria, it is advisable that these issues be tackled by planning at national level i.e. master planning and regional planning.
Nigeria needs a feasible and sustainable Land use master plan that will integrate Transportation, Agricultural, and Industrial planning.

Government must make policies that are designed to enhance the Fulani herdsmen by ensuring that they secure rights to land use in order to reduce insecurity and mitigate the spate of conflicts. This will, among other things, bring about peaceful coexistence between the Fulani herdsmen and host communities. This also enhances the security of the cattle, to access grazing space or resources without pouncing on farmers’ crops.

Law on the grazing reserve should be amended and improve upon. For a sustainable peace to reign there must be a deliberate design to enlighten and mobilize the parties in conflict to understand the ecology and the resources available in the localities. This opens a window for interdependence and complementary among groups in the optimal use of the resources for collective benefit and equitable access.
The State Government most make herdsmen keep to agreed routes and farmers avoid farming across them with stern government policy and strict compliance.

Government should ensure that those involved in the allocation of land for farming should imbibe responsibility and not allocate along cattle route or over grazing lands to avoid encroachment by nomadic herdsmen. Support for agricultural development through incentives will facilitate availability of food for the teaming Nigeria population. More so, considering the frantic interest of the present government towards making agriculture an alternative source of revenue following the crash in oil price, it becomes imperative for people in different aspects of agriculture and other trades alike to simultaneously and mutually articulate their trades for enhanced productivity and achievement of Sustainable Development.


By Olugbenga Ashiru

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