1. In line with one of its core mandates, the Abdulsalami Abubakar Institute for Peace and Sustainable Development Studies in Minna, Niger State organized a 2-day Roundtable to discuss issues of critical concern to the stability of Nigeria. The meeting held at the Maizube Farms along the Minna-Bida road under the chairmanship of Prof Ibrahim Gambari from Monday 29 to Tuesday 30 July 2019. Sixty-five eminent Nigerians attended it from different parts of the country. The meeting regretted the inability of some invitees to participate in the Roundtable but noted that since peace building is a continuous process, efforts should be made to integrate them in future activities.The methodology of the Roundtable included individual presentations, group works, and brainstorming sessions.
2. The context for convening the meeting is the escalating tension and insecurities across Nigeria bordering on mutual inter group suspicion, gangsterism, cultism, armed robbery and kidnapping among others which are fuelled by the proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALWs). These have added to the existing threats associated with the Boko Haram crisis in the North East, potent acts of militancy in the Niger Delta, the recurrent herder-farmer conflicts, which have assumed alarming dimensions and the resurgence of separatist agitations in some parts of the country.
3. The participants observed as follows:
a. Nature and Sources of Insecurity: The participants were in agreement that every part of Nigeria is today bedeviled by one form of extremist violence or the other and that these conflicts are increasingly having corrosive effects on the Nigerian state. The causes of the insecurity include poverty arising from the economic crisis in the country and bellicose political activities, environmental scarcity in the far North,and the rising perception of injustice by ethnic and religious groups which are escalated by fake news and hate speeches.
b. Security Sector: Participants at the Roundtable observed that the over reliance on the military in the conflict management often ignore the importance of dialogue and other non-coercive approaches to conflict management. This in itself contributes to the escalation of conflicts across the country. Yet, the military has deficits in personnel and equipment holding necessary to fight asymmetric warfare. There also exists poor coordination and inter-agency collaboration.
4. A complex, multi-faceted crisis, such as the one currently confronting Nigeria, necessarily requires carefully thought-out solutions, predicated on action plan, which is to address issues on short, medium and long term basis. In light of the above observations, the participants recommended as follows:
- The role of the military should be limited to defending Nigeria and not doing police jobs as now witnessed all over the country. For attaining this objective, the police and related paramilitary organizations should be better trained and equipped for playing their traditional roles. Nigeria needs to accelerate the process of recruitment of additional security personnel, especially the Police, in which the numbers are inadequate for even normal policing work. This calls for community policing.
- There is need for political leaderships at all levels to engage citizens including traditional rulers while addressing the root causes of insecurity.
- The Federal and State Governments should ensure clear separation of Religion and the State as stipulated in the 1999 Constitution while adhering to the Rule of Law in addressing issues of religion and security.
- All actors engaged in crop farming and livestock production should continually be enlightened to migrate from traditional to modern systems of agriculture to boost profits.
- The Federal Government should establish a National Mediation Council while the State Governments should establish Harmony and Mediation Centres to foster peaceful co-existence and inter group harmony.
- All tiers of Governments should create enabling environment for job creation to engage the teeming youth population.
Done this day, Tuesday 30 July 2019 at Maizube Farms, Km 26 Minna-Bida Road, Niger State.
Dr. Diamond Preye Nebechukwu Director Abdulsalami Abubkar Institute for Peace and Sustainable Development Studies