By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—SECUTITY experts have warned that the territorial integrity of the country might be at risk if the Federal Government did not come up with a comprehensive strategy to address the myriads of problems facing the Niger Delta region.
They said that the amnesty programme granted to the agitators in the region to buy time or peace was not sustainable, as peace will not be bought with money instead with an establishment of sustainable peace by developing a comprehensive strategy.
These views were expressed in Abuja at a workshop with the theme “Instability in Nigeria’s Niger Delta: The Post Amnesty Programme and Sustainable Peace Building,” organised by Peace and Security Centre of Competence Sub’Saharan Africa, an office of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.
Speaking at the workshop, Director of Peace and Security Centre of Competence Sub-Saharan Africa, said that the discovery of oil in Niger Delta had brought misfortune to the region instead of the expected happiness.
According to him, “Unfortunately, the presence of oil in Nigeria did not mean happiness for all. The Niger Delta in Southern Nigeria has been undergoing a crisis since the 90’s. Despite repeated attempts by the Federal Government to repeal the conflict, violence continues to persist.
“A comprehensive strategy to also address the underlying problems such as poverty, lacking economic perspective for the youth and generally difficult living conditions especially in some parts of the region due to environmental pollution is missing up today.”
Also speaking at the workshop, Mr Ebiede Marclint of the Centre for Research on Peace and Development, KU Leuven said: “Conflicts within the local communities need to be addressed because the source of new violence is rooted in the violence in the local communities.”
In his contribution, Head of Strategy Group in the Ministry of Interior, Brigadier-General Saleh Bala, said that the country should go back to the basics and deal with the culture of violence.
He said: “We need to go back to the basics. We should deal with the culture of violence, discourage our youths acquiring a very unAfrican culture of disrespect for elders and of being deviants. And as a government, only listening to people when the situation became violent is not good.”
A professor of Comparative Politics, University of Benin, Augustine Ikelegber, said “Sustainable peace is hardly possible without political settlement, state reforms and justice.
“All these must be there for us to begin to talk of sustainable peace and security. There must be elimination of stress, threat, tension and anxiety and provision of a conducive environment for peace and security.”