By Abu Michael
DUE to the diverse violent conflicts confronting Nigeria, tension is already heightened as we head towards the 2019 general elections.
At the Technical Steering Committee inaugural meeting for the establishment of a National Peace Advisory Forum, NPAF, held in Abuja recently under the aegis of the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, IPCR, the Director of the Kukah Centre, Abuja, Rev. Fr. Atta Barkindo spoke much on the efforts made by the National Peace Committee chaired by former Head of State, General AbdulsalamAbubakar, for the success of the 2015 presidential election.
I am glad to note that much have been done and are still being done by the same committee for peaceful 2019 general elections. These efforts and others that backstop for the committee, including the IPCR, are commendable. This was the more reason why IPCR launched one of its books, Election Conflict Management: Lessons From The 2015 General Elections in Nigeria, and have made copies available in the public domain. The book, according to the Acting Director General of the Institute, Dr. Bakuttswah Bakut, was a collection of peer-reviewed papers by renowned academics carefully selected from universities, policy think-tanks, military and security establishments, including the civil society groups. Perspectives within the text cover aspects responsible for the free, fair and credible elections.
It is expected to help refresh our minds on possible actions we need to take in avoiding pitfalls that could impede smooth transition and at the same time help us consolidate on the gains of the 2015 general elections. The book is useful, hence it provides useful insights and lessons that will boost efforts for the success of future elections in our country, and in particular, the forthcoming 2019 general elections, in the words of Dr. Bakut.
There is no doubting the fact that Nigeria is polarized by deep-seated ethno-religious sentiment playing out in every facet of our system. As a multi-ethnic country, such divide could be natural; frankly speaking, this diversity remains the source of our strength and hegemony. We must, therefore, craft a more practical way of managing our multicultural system for our common pledge to one indivisible Nigeria to subsist.
Working for durable peace in every part of the country and not just for peaceful elections; that there should be peace before, during and after elections and at all time to make Nigeria a haven peace, lies the interest of IPCR. The goal of the NPAF is to make issues of peace more collaborative, governance to be participatory and challenges treated as common for joint action so as to attain durable peace and sustainable development. Dr. Bakut, the Head of the National Peace Academy, NPA, Dr. BosedeAwodola and Paul Nyulaku who convened the NPAF did well to bring together scholars and eminent personalities in peace and conflict matters, security and humanitarian concerns to ventilate on the workability, objectives and aims of the NPAF.
The whole essence of these efforts is to ensure the promotion of peace, tolerance, efficient and effective ways of conflict resolution and national cohesion. NPAF will be a platform for government institutions/agencies and the people to from time-to-time interrogate issues and canvass support in bridging the gap between the government and the people.
It has been noted that governance has become cumbersome in Nigeria because government hardly gets the desired support and understanding from the people. Every agency of government must work round the clock to deliver, and this is why IPCR is working hard and taking a look at all the issues of governance because at the centre of all the actions of government is a place of peace.
To loosen the knots that fastened peace and sustainable development, there is the need for experts to take a closer look into our public policy both in terms of formulation and implementation. The issues of social inclusiveness, peaceful coexistence, and robust security system, among others, for good governance will find answers in our distributive and redistributive policies, constituents and regulatory policies as well.
- Michael is the Resident Information Officer (RIO), IPCR