After a two-Day Regional forum on Peace-building and Conflict Management for sustainable development which was held at the weekend in Lafia, Nasarawa State, the stakeholders at the event have decried the paucity of security personnel in the face of the growing population rate and its attendant security challenges in Nigeria. The situation, they added further compounded by vague rules of engagement, interagency rivalry, corruption, lack of capacity, manipulation by elites and religious/ideological/ethnic bias.
They also emphasized the need for building the capacity of Nigerians in ICT and in the application of social media networking in conflict and disaster early warning response, and in confronting misinformation that exacerbates conflicts and insecurity.
The workshop which was organized by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in a collaboration with the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), also called on security operatives to abide by the rule of engagements and professions in conflicts situations.
In a communique signed by the Director General of NEMA, Alhaji Muhammad Sani-Sidi and his counterpart in IPCR, Dr. Joseph H.P. Golwa recommend that the fight against corruption should be intensified in order to combat the endemic institutional corruption in the country.
They observed that “Some of the causes of conflict that have plagued the country since the return to democracy in 1999 are pluralism, youth restiveness, discrimination, injustice, impunity, and elites being facilitators of violent conflicts”
They said that Nigerian youths since then “are susceptible to violent conflicts and insecurity because of idleness, illiteracy, inadequate employment opportunities and underemployment.” They therefore recommended the engagement of youth through skill and technical capacity building programmes to prepare and diversify their skills for employment;
They also recommended that a broad based and people driven approach to security is critical and should be adopted in addressing the challenges of insecurity than a militarized and narrow approach to security; and that traditional and community institutions should be involved in conflict, disaster and security management initiatives at all levels.
Critical stakeholders at the workshop included members of the national and state legislature, traditional and community leaders, women and youth leaders, religious leaders, market women association, Okada riders, National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), academia, civil society organizations (CSOs), public and civil servants, development partners, Federal Fire Service (FFS), Office of the National Security Adviser, Department of State Security, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corp (NSCDC), Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC), Nigerian Police Force, Armed Forces, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), union leaders and the media.
The Participants identified the current state of conflicts and insecurity as having roots in Nigeria’s history, social exclusion, diversity, growing poverty rate, developmental and governance challenges. Though the inevitability of conflict and disaster was stated, the workshop sensitized participants to be committed to conflict and disaster management as peace is possible and conflict and disaster are preventable and manageable. Stakeholders expressed their willingness and commitment to collaborate and synergize for conflict, disaster and security management. All stakeholders have the responsibility to make peace a reality and be conflict managers and not conflict generators. Nigerians should be aware of their environment to effectively prevent, respond to, and mitigate the effects of disasters and conflicts.
Yushau A. Shuaib
Head, Public Relations Division
March 25, 2012