• Abdulsalami, Fayemi, Lalong, others give tips
  • We need new tactics, says CDS Gen. Irabor
  • UK warns on danger ahead of 2023

Eminent Nigerians yesterday said force alone cannot end insurgency and rising criminality in the country.

They urged the government to address the underlying causes of crime, explore dialogue and reconciliation, ensure equity and justice, and curtail the proliferation of arms.

The eminent personalities blamed the worsening insecurity on the inadequacy of the Federal Government’s response and its reliance on mainly military approach.

They called for a change in approach, including an enhanced collaboration among the security agencies in view of the dynamic nature of crime.

Those who spoke include Ekiti State Governor and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) Kayode Fayemi, Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong, Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese Rev. Matthew Kukah and Nasarawa State Deputy Governor, Emmanuel Akabe.

Others are the Secretary to Katsina State Government, Mustapha Mohammed Inuwa and the Country Director, United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), Chris Beecroft.

They spoke in Abuja at the launch of the “Peace and Inclusive Security Initiative (PISI),” designed by the NGF to build a collaborative approach to addressing the security challenges.

Also yesterday, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, said new tactics and equipment are needed to successfully wage the war against insurgency and banditry.

He believes the long-term success against internal security challenges required a whole-of-government approach and not just a military solution.

The CDS spoke at a Regimental Dinner organised in honour of the graduating students of Senior Course 43 of Armed Forces Command and Staff College.

Fayemi said the nation was at the crossroads, given the escalation in the spate of violence and criminal activities that have undermined governance.

He observed that the level of insecurity across the country is not only eroding citizens’ safety and peoples means of livelihood; it is also threatening rights.

Fayemi noted that between May 2011 and February 2021, over 76,000 deaths have been recorded, while about 2,583,000 were displaced as of 2019.

“The proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the country has also made the situation worse and exacerbated the level of violence and fatalities from crime.

“Between May 2011 and February 2021, over 76,000 deaths were reported by the press and tracked by the Nigeria Security Tracker (NST) – a project of the Council on Foreign Relations Africa programme which documents and maps violence in Nigeria that are motivated by political, economic, or social grievances.

“This number also includes persons who have been killed by a state actor. In addition to the proliferation of arms is an undertone of rising ethnic conflict, with different ethnic groups subsumed in conflicts and pitched against one another.

“The challenge is also not just an internal security problem, but with ramifications on regional and continental peace and stability. Mass displacement of persons from their areas of residence remains a challenge.

“At the end of 2019, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) reported a total number of 2,583,000 internally displaced persons who have been affected by conflict and violence in the country,” he said.

Fayemi stated that although the Federal Government has taken steps to addresses the security and near humanitarian crisis, serious underlying socio-economic issues mean that the solution to the problem requires more than a security action.

“Ultimately, how well we respond to the security challenge depends on the level of collaboration between state and non-state actors.

“I believe this dialogue will help to significantly contribute to a country-wide response to the security challenge in the country among other developmental issues.

“To consolidate on the measures taken by individual state governments and regional bodies of state governors, this Peace and Inclusive Security Initiative will help establish strategic dialogues and a mechanism to stimulate collaborative responses among stakeholders on conflict and security at the federal, state and civil society level.

“It is a positive initiative which I am confident will strengthen the governance arrangement for security in the country,” Fayemi said.

Kukah: how politicians encourage violence

Kukah, who represented the former military Head of State, General Abdulsamami Abubakar, urged leaders to modify their approach to addressing the nation’s security challenges, noting that emphasis should not be on the deployment of brute force.

He noted that he had warned the government, shortly after the Boko Haram episode commenced, against turning the crisis into a military operation, but that his advice was ignored and today, the situation has worsened.

Kukah disagreed with the notion that insecurity is fuelled by unemployment, arguing that the attitude of the political leaders encourages violence.

“When a governor decides to defect to a new party or a Senator defects to a new party, what Nigerians don’t appreciate are the seismic implications of that and the destabilising effects that those decisions have on the ordinary people.

“Because, the ordinary people, who were heading this way are being told by one individual that he has gone this way and everybody must change direction, whether you like it or not.

“The problem, as we see in many communities is that somehow, these decisions turn violent and so, the spiral of violence more or less, persists,” Kukah said.

Lalong: implement NLTP

Lalong blamed the Federal Government’s reluctance to implement the National Livestock Transformation Programme (NLTP) for the persistence of the farmer/herder conflict.

He argued that the problem of insecurity was not because of the absence of good and workable policies, but the lack of political will, particularly at the federal level, to implement existing policy initiatives.

“If we had adopted the recommendations in the NLTP, many of the issues we are seeing today would have since been addressed.

“It is now almost six years, but we are still talking about the commencement of the pilot scheme.

“If we are ready to address these challenges, why the delay? Because the more we delay the more they multiply in different phases.

“I am saying this because, I can address the issue of insecurity in my state, but my neighbours would not address it. If my neighbours are not addressing it, it means I have not addressed it.

“Many of the kidnappings and killings I see in my state are perpetrated by people from outside Plateau. Part of my recommendations was that, if this thing (NLTP) was comprehensive, and every state was adopting it, it will go a long way in solving some of the crises we have.

“But, if we leave one state to be doing it, and most of these conflict merchants are coming from outside the state, nothing will be achieved,” Lalong said.

The governor advised the government to concentrate on conflict prevention and peacebuilding, without which the nation will not grow, the economy will not stabilise, there won’t be investment and unemployment would continue to grow.

‘Address mutual distrust’

Akabe blamed the seeming mutual distrust and suspicion between the leaders and the led; lack of transparency and lack of inclusiveness in governance.

“I believe that for us to maintain that social contract, we need to be open and transparent. We also need to involve the communities right from the wards, the local governments to the state.

“We must involve everybody in the issue of governance, in the issue of security and also guarantee their protection.

“We should encourage them to keep information and share information, and also encourage inter-agency cooperation, particularly among the security agencies.

“And those who share information must be protected. If we are able to do that, we would be able to curb some of these security problems and sustain the social contract,” Akade said.

Improve collaboration

Inuwa noted that security agencies were not doing what they ought to do due to a lack of collaboration among them, in addition to the inadequacy of men and materials.

“There must be synergy and there must be the deployment of sufficient troops, which unfortunately we don’t have in the country. We have to be truthful.

“From the record, we know that the personnel strength of the entire military forces is below half a million, so also is the police, as against the number of bandits and other criminals,” he said.

Inuwa suggested enhanced collaboration between the Federal Government and the states to evolve a robust mechanism to tackle the challenge of insecurity, which he said was not insurmountable if the right things were put in place.

He argued that the task of leading the way rests with the Federal Government that has control over the security agencies.

2023 under threat, says Beecroft

Beecroft warned that, if not well-addressed, the pervasive insecurity poses a threat to the nation’s democracy with implications for the 2023 general election.

He stated that peace and stability could only be achieved when the causes of conflict in the society are managed through strong, fair and responsive governance mechanisms, whether at the community, state or federal level.

“Nigeria faces significant peace and security challenges. There is an active insurgency in the Northeast; farmer-herder conflicts are extending across the country; resource conflicts in the Delta; tension in the Southeast and banditry in the Northwest.”

“The rise in conflict risks destabilising Nigeria’s democracy in the run-up to the 2023 elections. Conflict destroys lives, livelihoods, hope and ambition for the future. Conflict represents an existential threat to Nigeria’s unity and its development.

“The police and army are in urgent need of reform — but the solution to Nigeria’s instability does not lie in simply strengthening the police and army, but rather in building an effective social contract, building federal, state, local and community level infrastructure to manage conflict; and in giving young people jobs and opportunities so they have a stake in a prosperous and peaceful Nigeria.

“Injustice and impunity, weak justice institutions, the proliferation of small arms and weapons, the weaponisation of social media, are all drivers.

“The use of the police and army will always be only part of the solution. Greater emphasis needs to be placed on reconciliation, mediation, arbitration and access to justice – all vital components of a vibrant, resilient and effective social contract,” Beecroft said.

The Director-General of the NGF, Asishana Okauru, explained that the PISI resulted from the forum’s determination “to contribute to the conversation on inclusive security and add the leverage of the sub-nationals to the efforts to secure the lives and property of our countrymen and women.”

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