The Institute for Innovations in Development (IID), with support from the Ford Foundation, convened a civil society-legislature dialogue on “Rural Security Challenges and Agricultural Development in South East Nigeria” on 8 June 2016. The dialogue was attended by members of State Houses of Assembly, civil society organizations and academics.
Participants at the dialogue made the following observations:
- That there is increasing insecurity in rural communities in South East Nigeria;
- That the existing local security provisioning, particularly the public security arrangements and community vigilantes, has failed to control the rising insecurity in the rural communities in the South East zone;
- That community vigilantes are affected by severe capacity and accountability limitations, including lack of clear recruitment modalities and community control, which have reduced their effectiveness;
- That increasing rural insecurity in the South East zone is having far-reaching impact on agricultural development in the region, including low levels of cultivation, drop in production, falling income and unemployment;
- That in addition to insecurity, agricultural development in the South East zone is impeded by factors such as the image of the farmer as a poor rural dweller, increasing rural to urban migration, and lack of investment in research;
- That in addition to the conflicts arising from nomadic pastoralism, there are veterinary implications of indiscriminate livestock movement, which the governments of the South East states have failed to recognize and address;
- That the South East zone does not have adequate regional cooperation mechanisms to deal with the rising insecurity in the region and its impact on agricultural development.
Consequently, participants resolved as follows:
- That state governments in the South East zone should increase the scale of community vigilante beyond single communities to bring together and encourage cooperation among several communities;
- That the Institute for Innovations in Development (IID) should collate, study and harmonize existing security provisioning laws in the South East states in order to develop a Model Security Provisioning Law for the region;
- That state governments in the South East zone should strengthen the laws governing community vigilantes to fill gaps, including funding, recruitment and accountability;
- That state governments in the South East zone should institute practicable incentives to encourage young persons to engage in agriculture, including granting scholarships and bursaries to young persons interested in the study of agriculture and improvement of access to credit;
- That state governments in the South East zone should place emphasis on areas of comparative advantage in agriculture in the region and encourage poultry and fish farming as alternative sources of protein.
- That state governments in the South East zone should liaise with universities to step up advanced research to identify and tackle issues impeding agricultural development in the region;
- State legislators in the South East zone should play a leading role in mobilizing and encouraging their constituents to take interest in agriculture, and demonstrate exemplary leadership in this regard, by among other things, establishing their own farms;
- That state governments in the South East zone should revitalize farming cooperatives in the region and put measures in place to rapidly deploy technology to and mechanize agriculture in the region;
- That state governments in the South East zone should make annual appropriation of funds to state owned educational institutions to conduct research to improve local crops;
- That state governments in the South East zone should revive the “Back-to-Farm” initiatives in educational institutions in the region;
- That state governments in the South East zone, and the legislature in particular, should tackle some of the problems arising from nomadic pastoralism as specific health challenges;
- That South East states should strengthen existing regional cooperation mechanisms, especially the South East Council of Legislative Speakers and South East Council of Traditional Rulers, and establish the South East State Legislators Forum;
- That state legislators and civil society organizations in the South East zone should continue to collaborate in order to address the challenges of rural insecurity and agricultural development.
Adopted and issued in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, 8th June, 2016.