The age-long clashes between herders and farmers in different parts of Nigeria has been exacerbated by influx of gunmen from the Sahel region, President Muhammadu Buhari has said.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday told the Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Reverend Justin Welby, that the crisis is older than his administration.
Responding to question by the Archbishop, Buhari said: “The problem is even older than us.’’
“It has always been there but now made worse by the influx of armed gunmen from the Sahel region into different parts of the West African sub-region.
“These gunmen were trained and armed by Muammar Gadaffi of Libya. When he was killed, the gunmen escaped with their arms. We encountered some of them fighting with Boko Haram.
“Herdsmen that we used to know carried only sticks and maybe a cutlass to clear the way, but these ones now carry sophisticated weapons.
“The problem is not religious, but sociological and economic. But we are working on solutions,” Buhari said.
In a statement which was signed by his special adviser on Media and Publicity, President Buhari also blamed “irresponsible politics” for the crisis.
He said politics has been brought into the farmers/herders’ crisis, but assured that enduring solutions would be found, and justice done to all concerned.
On the schoolgirl from Dapchi, Leah Sharibu, who is still being held by insurgents, reportedly because she refused to renounce her Christian faith, the President said the issue is being dealt with quietly.
“We are managing the matter quietly. Making noise would not help. We are collecting as much intelligence as possible, working with the Red Cross and other international organisations.
“There are too many fraudulent people around, who claim they can do this and that. We won’t deal with them. That was how we got the Dapchi girls back, and the Chibok girls,” he said
Archbishop Welby in response said it was always a delight to see President Buhari. He also gave assurance of support for the President.
“You have my best wishes on your recent decision. I read your declaration speech. We are neutral as a church, but we will pray for you. Great statesmen are those who run for the good of their country. We will be praying for you,” the Archbishop reassured President Buhari.