In July 2018, the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria passed the National Commission for Peace, Reconciliation & Mediation (NCPRM) Establishment Bill 2018 (SB 74), which seeks to provide for the establishment of a National Commission responsible for the identification of conflict; supervision, coordination and monitoring of all peaceful resolutions between governments, organisations and relevant institutions. As a Conflict Transformation Expert of over 30 years experience who retired as a Director in the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) in 2010, this is a welcome development!
Presenting the report on the Bill, Chairman, Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Sen. David Umaru (APC Niger), identified some of the objectives of the Bill:
*Establishing a Commission with the mandate to identify, supervise, coordinate and monitor all forms of conflict and resolution within Nigeria; and
*Implementing the National Peace Policy (NPP) that provides for a framework for peace-building, prevention, management and resolution of dysfunctional conflicts in Nigeria.
The Committee received memoranda and conducted a public hearing on the Bill. Some of the stakeholders are:
1) The Federal Ministry of Justice
2) The National Law Reform Commission (NLRC)
3) The Nigerian Army
4) The Nigerian Navy
5) The Nigerian Air Force
6) Department of State Services
7) National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
8) The Nigeria Securities & Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC)
9) Institute for Peace & Conflict Resolution (IPCR)
10) Policy Legal & Advocacy Centre (PLAC)
There is a huge task before the NCPRM when established. Some of the envisaged areas where a lot of work still needs to be done as regards systematic conceptualisation and 'berthing' are:
*Developing a framework that promotes peace, security and development in areas of conflict.
*Establishing measures that enhance national cohesion, confidence building and sustainable development.
*Transforming, resolving, controlling and ensuring responses are targeted at addressing the causes of conflict - e.g. the proliferation of SALWs, the influx of foreigners owing to porous borders, etc
*Empowering the Commission with the mandate to promote peace and security due to the limitation of the scope of IPCR.
In my opinion, we should not throw out the baby with the bath water. The initial mandate of IPCR could still be relevant to NCPRM. The research component in the mandate of IPCR should be upheld. Besides, there is an existing Department of External Conflict Prevention & Resolution (ECPR) of which I was the pioneer Head. The department engages in research for conflicts outside Nigeria, but within Africa. My position is that because conflicts within and beyond Africa affect conflicts in Nigeria, we need to understand them. Besides, the periodic 'Strategic Conflict Assessment' of Nigeria (SCA) (four editions have so far been published by IPCR since 2003) should continue in the NCPRM. See for example: Strategic Conflict Assessment of Nigeria - dayokusa.blogspot.com/2017/11/strategic-conflict-assessment-of.html
On the whole, a lot of work still needs to be done in order to clarify exactly what the NCPRM would be doing even before the Commission is established. Is IPCR going to be subsumed under NCPRM? If the answer is 'yes', what would be retained/discarded in the 'incoming' IPCR should be clearly stated. I shall continue to watch this space for further developments...