Three Recent Reports on Nigeria: Corruption, Civilian Vigilantes, and Farmer-Herder Conflicts

Three notable reports have come out recently on Nigeria, covering three very different but crucial topics.

  • Matthew Page, Carnegie Endowment: “A New Taxonomy for Corruption in Nigeria.” The taxonomy is summarized on p. 5, and here is a key quote from p. 6: “The first part of this taxonomy classifies corruption in Nigeria according to the context (sector) in which it takes place. These categories are based on where corruption happens, who may be engaging in it, and the nature of the damage it causes. The following section identifies twenty of these different sectors, discusses the scope and scale of corruption in each, and provides examples of its negative effects. These sectors tend to be seen as stovepipes, however. In many instances, forms of corruption cut across two or more sectors, resulting in negative synergistic effects. Likewise, several of these areas—like the police and judicial sectors—overlap, blurring the lines between them. This taxonomy embraces these connections, recognizing that some forms of corruption can belong to more than one category.”
  • Chitra Nagarajan, Center for Civilians in Conflict, “Civilian Perceptions of the Yan Gora (CJTF) in Borno State, Nigeria.” Key quote (p. 3): “Civilian perceptions towards the yan gora have changed significantly over time. Every civilian interviewed was concerned for the future. In particular, civilians shared concerns over: 1) the increased politicization and mobilization of the group associated with the 2019 elections; 2) that the group’s involvement with politicians was diluting their focus on protection; 3) the group would become increasingly involved in criminality and gangs; 4) the group derailing processes of disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, and rehabilitation; 5) tensions within the yan gora, or between the yan gora and yan banga and/ or kungiyar maharba, would develop into a new phase of the conflict.”
  • International Crisis Group, “Stopping Nigeria’s Spiralling Farmer-Herder Violence.” Key quote (p. i): “The conflict’s roots lie in climate-induced degradation of pasture and increasing violence in the country’s far north, which have forced herders south; the expansion of farms and settlements that swallow up grazing reserves and block traditional migration routes; and the damage to farmers’ crops wrought by herders’ indiscriminate grazing. But three immediate factors explain the 2018 escalation. First is the rapid growth of ethnic militias, such as those of the Bachama and Fulani in Adamawa state, bearing illegally acquired weapons. Second is the failure of the federal government to prosecute past perpetrators or heed early warnings of impending attacks. Third is the introduction in November 2017 of anti-grazing laws vehemently opposed by herders in Benue and Taraba states, and the resultant exodus of herders and cattle, largely into neighbouring Nasarawa and, to a lesser degree, Adamawa, sparking clashes with farmers in those states.” I must say, though, that I’m a bit concerned about the report’s use of “the conflict” in the singular. Are these instances of farmer-herder violence not conflicts, plural, rather than one singular phenomenon? The media coverage of the report has heavily emphasized the idea of farmer-herder violence being “six times deadlier than Boko Haram” (or variants on that language), but it seems to me that the comparison is apples to oranges, given that the farmer-herder violence is much more decentralized than Boko Haram’s violence (and yes, I know that Boko Haram is factionalized and perhaps even significantly decentralized, but I still don’t think its violence is directly comparable to the farmer-herder clashes where the locations, causes, and perpetrators are much more diffuse and dispersed). And it is very important, I think, not to inadvertently stoke the fires of the “Fulani are all jihadists” narrative that has gained an alarming amount of traction.


1 thought on “Three Recent Reports on Nigeria: Corruption, Civilian Vigilantes, and Farmer-Herder Conflicts

  1. It strikes me as strange that “climate-induced” land degradation is always mentioned, perhaps used as a buzzword to get more hits.
    There is no climate-induced degradation of pastures or farmland in Nigeria. Desertification stopped already in the mid 80’s. We have had a distinct greening of the Sahel and the northern hemisphere since then.
    What has happened but for some reason doesn’t get any mention is the fact that the population of Niger and northern Nigeria has eight-doubled since 1960.
    Anyone can then understand where the land degradation and the conflicts come from.
    Same is true of many conflict zones, like Yemen, CAR or South Sudan.
    Any academic piece mentioning climate but disregarding demographics should be binned.

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