Emmanuel Terngu Vanger


This conceptual review establishes a nexus between agrarian violence, neopatrimonialism and state-building in Nigeria. Grounded on Political Ecology, it purports that the state’s apparent frailty in quelling the persisting agrarian violence derives from the national leadership’s proclivity towards ascriptive and particularistic values. Pointedly, the state’s tolerance for impunity by powerful ethnic networks that publicly threaten, mastermind killings and accept responsibility for same without reprimand underpins the ‘economy of affection’ while the remedial options by the state reverberate the ‘political instrumentalisation of disorder’ by key political actors enmeshed in neopatrimonial proclivity which adds force to the origin and continuity of agrarian violence and failed state-building in Nigeria. What can be rationalised from the above trend is that, the Nigerian state has a major state-building challenge that may only be overcome by a systematic reconsideration of the meeting points of the socio-political undercurrents that condition agrarian violence in Nigeria which is congruent with the theoretical tenets of the political ecology approach. 


Violence, Agrarian violence, Neopatrimonialism, State-building, Nigeria.

Full Text:



Adewakun, A.; Ogundare T. & Adewole, L. (2019). FG’s radio station for herdsmen is illegal, unconstitutional-Falana, Rotimi-Williams, Ubani, others. Tribune. Retrieved from

Amnesty International. (2018). Nigeria: Harvest of death: Three years of bloody clashes between farmers and herders in Nigeria. Retrieved from

Arotiba, A. (2019). National Livestock Transformation Plan: Ruga no work, so Buhari goment don launch anoda plan to address farmers/herdsmen kwanta. BBC News Pigin. Retrieved from

Bratton, M., & Van de Walle, N. (1997). Democratic experiments in Africa: Regime transitions in a comparative perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Barre, R. Y. (2012). The theoretical milieu: Fulani herder-indigene conflicts in Tallensi-Nabdam, Ghana. Ghana Journal of Geography, 418 – 41.

Bassett, T. (1988). The political ecology of peasant-herder conflicts on the northern ivory coast. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 78(3), 453-72.

Bassett, T. (1993). Land use conflicts in pastoral development in Northern Cote d'Ivoire. In T. J. Bassett & D. Crummey (Eds.), Land in African Agrarian Systems (pp. 131-54), Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

Benue State Government. (2014). Committee Report on Conflict Resolution and Peace Building, 1, Makurdi.

Blaikie, P. & Brookfield, H. (1987). Land degradation and society. London: Methuen, 1987.

Blench, R., & Dendo, M. (2003). The transformation of conflict between pastoralists and cultivators in Nigeria. In M. Moritz (Ed.) Journal Africa, 1-10. United Kingdom: Cambridge.

Bratton, M., & Van de Walle, N. (1997). Democratic experiments in Africa: Regime transitions in a comparative perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Breusers, M., S. Nederlof, and T. van Rheenen. (1998). Conflict or symbiosis? disentangling farmer-herdsman relations: The Mossi and the Fuille of the Central Plateau, Burkina Faso. Journal of Modern African Studies, 36(3), 357-80.

Brottem, L. (2016). Environmental Change and farmer-herder conflict in agro-pastoral West Africa. Human Ecology, 1-17. doi: 10.1007/s10745-016-9846-5

Brock, L. (2001). Nation-building-prelude or belated solution to the failing of States? (paper presented at the Conference on Failed States IV: Structures, cases and policies, Florence, Italy, April 10-14, 2001). 2001.

Chang, H. (2007). Bad Samaritans: The guilty secrets of rich nations and the threat to global prosperity. London: Random Business Books.

Clapham, C. (1985). Third world politics: an introduction. London: Routledge.

Chabal, P., & Daloz, J. (1999). Africa works: Disorder as political instrument. Oxford: James Currey.

Duru, P & Okafor, P. (2017). Anti-open grazing law: Benue seeks arrest of Miyetti Allah’s leaders. Vanguard. Retrieved from

Eisenstadt, S. (1973). Traditional patrimonialism and modern neopatrimonialism. London: Sage.

El-Rufai, N. (2016). We’ve paid some Fulani to stop killings in Southern Kaduna.Vanguard, Retrieved from

Erunke, J. (2018). Breaking: Relocate to Benue immediately, Buhari orders IGP. Vanguard. Retrieved from

Genyi, G. A. (2017). Ethnic and religious identities shaping contestation for land based resources: The Tiv farmers and pastoralist conflicts in Central Nigeria until 2014. Journal of Living Together, 4-5(1), 136–51.

Gusau, S. A. (1989). Economic ideas of Shehu Usman Dan Fodio. JIMMA, 10(1), 139-151.

Hagher, I. (2013). The Fulani-Tiv at war in Nigeria, as President Jonathan helplessly looks on (1). PremiumTimes. Retrieved from

Hippler, J. (2004). Violent conflicts, conflict prevention and nation-building:Terminology and political concepts. In J. Hippler (Ed.) Nation-building: A key concept for peaceful conflict transformation? London: Pluto Press.

International Crisis Group (2018). Stopping Nigeria’s spiraling farmer-herder violence. Retrieved from

Islahi, A. A. (2008). Shehu Uthman Dan Fodio and his economic ideas. Munich Personal RePEc Archive Paper No. 40916, 2008. Retrieved from

Kodili, H. C. (2020). Constructing the herder-farmer conflict as (in)security in Nigeria. African Security, 13(1), 54-76. doi: 10.1080/19392206.2020.1732703.

Le Billon, P. & R. Duffy. (2018). Conflict ecologies: connecting political ecology and peace and conflict studies. Journal of Political Ecology , 25, 239-260.

Migdal, J. (2001). State in society: Studying how States and societies transform and constitute one another. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Mkom, J. (2018). Defend yourselves or you will all die, TY Danjuma tells Nigerians. Vanguard. Retrieved from

Moritz, M. (2006). The politics of permanent conflict: Farmer-herder conflicts in northern Cameroon. Canadian Journal of African Studies /Revue Canadienne des Études Africaines, 40(1), 101-126.

Moritz, M. (2010). Understanding Herder-Farmer Conflicts in West Africa: Outline of a Processual Approach. Human Organization , 69(2), 138-148. doi: 0018-7259/10/020138-11.

Nyaluke, D. (2013). The basis of democracy and regime legitimacy in African States (Doctoral dissertation, Dublin City University).Retrieved from

Ogundipe, S. (2018). How IG of Police, Ibrahim Idris, disobeyed Buhari’s order on Benue crisis. Premium Times. Retrieved from

Ojigho, O. (2018, March 20). Nigeria: Security forces failed to act on warnings about Boko Haram attack hours before abduction of schoolgirls. Amnesty International News. Retrieved from

Ojoye, T. (2019). Islamist terrorism: Obasanjo, Soyinka on point. Punch. Retrieved from

Ojoye, T., Odebode, N., Akinkuotu, E., Aluko,O., Adepegba, A. & Isenyo, G. (2019). CAN, JNI clash over FG’s radio station for herdsmen. Punch. Retrieved from

Olugbenga, E.O. (2017). Peace by pieces: The politics of herdsmen’s attacks, grazing policy and the Ekiti State Grazing Regulation Law, 2016. Advances in Social Sciences Research Journal, 4(5), 72-89.

Ortserga, D. S. (2014). Resource-based conflicts in the Middle Belt Zone of Nigeria and the question of legitimate territoriality (paper presented at the International Conference of Social Sciences, Benue State University, Makurdi, March 26-28, 2014).

Ottaway, M. (1999). Nation-building and State disintegration. In K. Mengisteab & C. Daddieh (Eds.), State Building and Democratisation in Africa (pp. 83-97). London: Praeger.

Peluso, N. L. & Watts, M. (Eds.). (2001). Violent Environments. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.

Peters, P. E. (2002). The limits of negotiability, equity, and class formation in Africa's land systems. In K. Juul & C. Lund (Eds.), Negotiating property in Africa (pp. 45-66). Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Heinemann.

Reno, W. (2000). Clandestine Economies, Violence and States in Africa. Journal of International Affairs, 53 (2), 433-459.

Robbins, P. (2004). Political ecology: a critical introduction (2nd ed.) Oxford: Wiley.

Rodrik, D. (2011). The globalization paradox: Democracy and the future of the world economy. New York-London: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Sack, R. D. (1983). Human territoriality: A theory. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 73(1), 55-74.

Scott, Z. (2007). Literature Review on State-Building. Retrieved from

Therkildsen, O. (2005). Understanding public management through neopatrimonialism: a paradigm for all African seasons?" In E. Engel & G. R. Olsen, (Eds.), The African exception (pp.35–53). Aldershot and Burlington, Vermont: Ashgate Publishing.

Tschakert, P. (2012). Impacts to embodied experiences: Tracing political ecology in climate change research. Geografisk Tidsskrift-Danish Journal of Geography, 112(2), 144-158.

Vayda, A. P. & Walters, B. B. (1999). Against political ecology. Human Ecology, 27(1), 167-79.

van de Walle, N. (2001). African economies and the politics of permanent crisis, 1979-1999. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Vanger, E. T. (2015). Political ecology of herders’ insurgency on Tiv farmers in Benue State –Nigeria under neoliberalism’. In Inequality, Democracy and Development under Neoliberalism and Beyond. South-South Tricontinental Collaborative Programme, 195–211. New Delhi: IDEAs. Retrieved from http://biblioteca.

Vanger, E. T. (2018). Conflicts, peace-building and sustainability of farmer-herder practices in Tivland of Benue State-Nigeria. (Doctoral Dissertation). University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

Vanger, E. T. & Nwosu, B. U. (2020). Institutional parameters that condition farmer–herder conflicts in Tivland of Benue State, Nigeria. African Security Review, 29(1), 20-40.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2021 Emmanuel Terngu Vanger










ISSN (PRINT):    2682 - 6135

ISSN (ONLINE): 2682 - 6127





Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.