The fourth Strategic Conflict Assessment (SCA) of Nigeria and the accompanying National Action Plan (NAP) were presented in Abuja, November 9, 2017 by the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), Abuja. I retired as a Director from IPCR in 2010. At the event, I was affectionately referred to by the anchors as 'Mama IPCR', a subtle allusion to the fact that I left positive and indelible footprints on the sands of time in the institution. I was the very first and only female Director of IPCR to date!
The first three SCAs were produced in 2003, 2008 and 2012 respectively. I led the south-west team for the 2003 and 2012 field work (See p.96 of the 2003 SCA and p.212 of the 2012 SCA). This is the first time the SCA and NAP are launched simultaneously. It is also the first time the NAP is launched as a separate document, beyond being mentioned in the text of the SCA.
Some of the persons present were:
Geoffrey Onyeama - Minister of Foreign Affairs
Hon. Khadija Abba Ibrahim - Minister of State, Foreign Affairs
Prof. Oshita Oshita - DG IPCR
Gen. Habila Naaba represented Gen. (Rtd) T.Y. Danjuma - Victim Support Fund (VSF), Nigeria
Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa - Conflict Transformation Expert/Former Director, IPCR
Prof. Sunday Ochoche - Executive Director, VSF
Dr. Ojezo represented UN Resident Coordinator
Dr. Ibn Chambas - UNSG's Special Envoy for West Africa
Commander J.G. Jaja represented Chief of Naval Staff
Dr. Godwin Ocheni represented Senator Shehu Sanni - Chair, Senate Committee on & Foreign Debts
Prof. Godwin Sogolo - Former Director, IPCR
Boss Mustapha represented - Secretary to the Government of the Federation
Dr. (Mrs) Jane Soboke represented Col (Rtd) Hameed Alli - Comptroller General of Customs
Paulo Yagudki represented Nikolay Udovichenko - Ambassador of the Embassy of Russia to Nigeria
Rear Admiral Stanford Eno represented General Gabriel Olonisakin - Chief of Defense Staff
Jens-Petter Kjemprud - Norwegian Ambassador to Nigeria
Patrick Mayen - Conflict Adviser, DFID
The SCA seeks to 'provide Government and other stakeholders with informed and unbiased analysis of conflicts and their implication for the peace and security of the country (See page 13 of SCA 2016). The key findings and conclusions are as follows (See pages 18-20 of SCA).
*Compared with the previous editions of the SCA, changes have occurred in the context, weaponry, actors, protraction, spontaneity, geographical scope and victims of conflicts around the country. For example, armed non-state actors (ANSAs) from within and outside the country have emerged, often led by warlords.
*There is a transnational and global dimension to the sources of rage, grievances, weapons and conflict entrepreneurs.
*The concept of 'prebendalism' (money politics) seems to have changed in the last few years. Prebendalism has become even more pronounced, edging out committed patriots who could have contested in the political terrain.
*In the Niger Delta, the Amnesty programme is embroiled in allegations of corruption. More needs to be done in this area.
*The fault lines of ethnicity and religion as bases of electoral choices have had negative effects in the polity.
*Ethnic and religious minorities have become more resistant and sometimes violent.
*DDRRR efforts in some states are not devoid of partiality.
*Having used militias as enforcers in winning elections, many states are saddled with dangerous small arms & light weapons (SALWs).
*Paucity of funds makes CSOs incapable of going beyond advocacy.
*'He who pays the piper still dictates the tune' in the media. Conflict-sensitive reporting is necessary.
*There should be public-private partnership for effective peace-building.
*Women and children, among the vulnerable groups are fast becoming active conflict actors - e.g. as suicide bombers and protesters against the invasion of their communities.
There were quite a number of useful comments and suggestions at the event:
*The IPCR should be moved back to the Presidency. It is quite restricted with Ministry of Foreign Affairs as its supervising Ministry.
*There is a bit of 'analytical timidity' in the report. 'Let's call a spade a spade: Could it be a faction of Boko Haram (Al Banami) that is operating as 'herdsmen' in north-central Nigeria?'
*The role of government agencies like the Victim Support Fund (VSF) and others, set up to ameliorate the effect of conflict not mentioned in report.
*The Federal government should wake up to its responsibility of funding IPCR adequately. It's a shame that even the SCA being presented to the public was funded by donor agencies!
*There is a nexus between peace/security and good governace/development.
*The NAP, which emanates from the SCA should be integrated into the programmes of all relevant government agencies to guarantee efficient implementation of the recommendations. Peace-Building should be mainstreamed into all government programmes.
*Good governance, which entails the policy of inclusion, could be useful in mitigating conflict.
*Lessons should be learnt from the first NAP which was too 'top heavy'. Besides, the rift at the highest level of governance affected implementation. This should not be allowed to happen again.
*Only 'implementable' policies should be enacted.
*The NAP & SCA should be used for conflict-sensitive work at all levels.
The NAP is expected to intervene through the following sub-committees:
*Security Sector Reform (SSR)
*Early Warning & Early Response (EWER)
*Political Conflict (PoC)
*Social & Economic Conflict (SoEC)
*Mainstreaming Conflict Prevention (MCoP)
On the whole, I commend the IPCR for painstakingly putting together an impressive NAP & SCA. It is easy to criticise. After reading the two documents, I suggest stakeholders should send constructive comments to the management of IPCR. Such comments might help guide the researchers for the next SCA & NAP. Kudos to IPCR for presenting these two useful documents to the public.