As part of the efforts to regain their farmlands seized by bandits, farmers in Zamfara State are going to have a meeting with terror leaders today.
The meeting, WikkiTimes leant, will dwell on negotiations around farmers’ protection in the terrorists’ strongholds and hitch-free access to their farmlands.
The farmers, who spoke under the aegis of the Zamfara Chapter of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), made this known in an interview with PUNCH. The farmers’ association said the planned meeting with the bandits is expected to take place today.
Earlier on Thursday, AFAN Public Relations Officer (PRO), Abdulhafiz Alkali, expressed disappointment in the Federal Government’s indifference to their plight.
He noted that the government seemed to have left them to their fate and jettisoned any idea of providing security for farmers.
“What I know about protection with the farmers is just the negotiation between the bandits and the farmers”, he said. “I am living in Zamfara State now. I know that there will be a meeting by this coming Saturday between the farmers and the bandits.”
Alkali added: “We lost a lot of things in Zamfara State. We sent letters to the Federal Government to secure us five years ago after complaining that the bandits were disturbing us.
“We needed the intervention of the Federal Government but it never came. What we lost in the past seven to six years is between N30bn to N50bn on commodities only.
“Many people from different countries and states used to come to the Dansadua axis to buy commodities to the tune of over N50 billion in a year, but now, in a year, we get less than two to three billion naira.
“In Zamfara State, the commodities business was worth over 200 to 300 billion naira, but these bandits interrupted the business. We wrote letters, we complained, but up till now, no response from the Federal Government.”
He further stated that there were arrangements by the association to meet with the Ministry of Agriculture to get clarity on the matter.
“We need between 3,000 and 5,000 (parcels of) arable land, most especially in the North and South-South. For now, there has been no communication between us and the ministry. No member of the All Farmers Association knows about these projects,” Alkali lamented.
Negotiating with bandits is a common phenomenon in Kaduna, Niger, Zamfara, and some northern states. Despite the negotiations, different bandit groups keep it an unending process. They continue to kill, kidnap, and pillage the communities.