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Nigeria’s violence ecosystem — Gbenro Olajuyigbe

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Justice is the glue that makes people stay together. When it’s rattled with bad governance or whittled with unjust policies, the bargain-basement of the union blows up in everyone’s face.

When a government becomes implicitly biased, people become implacably lawless. While not denying the historical evolution of violent conflict in Nigeria, which also is power-related, the current escalation and emerging violence hang much blame on the failure of governance.

These include the inability to contextualize and drive appropriate inclusive response strategy, mobilize for national consensus and promote rule of law that appreciate, equality, the supremacy of law and civil liberty. The promises of the present government were; addressing insecurity, fighting corruption as well as building a robust economy.

Not long it came to power, the promise of Change changed! Caught in the turbulent torrents of trust deficit and legitimation crisis, they built a pyramid of lies that could no longer shield away people’s hunger, anger and irritability of failed promises and painted El Dorado.

Now, society is littered with remains of innocent, wounds of families/friends and agony of patriots; without sparing generation next to the needless legacy of vandalism, promoted through manifest nepotism flavoured with ultra-ethnocentric hegemonic policy option and the consequential hyper injustice – driven violent extremism.

Noticeable now, is the gradual de-institutionalization of security, albeit, illegitimately. Performance crisis that has attended the statutory Armed Forces and police institutions have become the justification.

A sort of legitimacy has been conferred on this by people as state actors have become impotent in offering physical protection as well as defending territorial integrity.

With wide spreading terror and ever-expanding ungoverned spaces, nature abhors a vacuum.

A consciously power backed elite-driven crisis with closed space for an enlightened response cannot but receive the attention of those we called the dregs of society. To convince people to stretch forth their necks for smooth head chopped off in a state of anomie can no longer be the decision of the enlightened mind that failed them!

They know the difference between authentic clippers of the esthetic barber of beauty and that of the barbaric barber of injustice Cross-culture ethnoreligious conflict is becoming more prominent with failure of governance.
The problem of State fragility has been compounded by an active and growing collaborative alliance between and among existing and emerging terror- criminal violent groups. Outside this, there is a preponderance of separatist groups with a focus on self-determination and on the extreme, secession.

Nigeria State must be committed to analyzing all these variables of violence, develop a robust template for analysis as well as practical response plans that cause deeper understanding of the emerging contexts, effects and propose types of engagements and intervention that citizens and residents should expect.

We play politics and political correctness with everything. Pacifism is a comforting tragic route to entrenched violence. I remember leading an intervention decade ago in a particular town whose people seemed irredeemably belligerent.

Escalation became perennial. On one occasion, I asked over 200 community members and participants to choose 7 persons who are trustworthy and know much about the town and pattern of behaviour. They did. We invited them out of town.

They made disclosure of part of their history that glorifies violence as an act of courage. Information revealed shape the direction of our interactions with the hazard, threat, vulnerability, risk and remedy. We took off from there and activated conflict transformation approach that deconstructed trend evidence and turned pattern of terror into the tree of peace using dialogue that captured the emerged triangle.

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Today, the town is not as restive as it used to be. Leaders and rulers across the board and at all levels of government must mobilize willingness, capacity and resources to overcome the gap between Early Warning and Early Action by using effective innovative national security strategy, facilitated by new technology to respond to the alarming signal of insecurity in the country. situation and safe people from becoming another fatal statistics. For instance, it’s no longer a Herders-Farmers conflict we are dealing with.

The violence has mutated, the dynamics have changed; new crimino-conomy contexts have emerged as a chief driver of the infernal machine; and for want of genuine analysts and responders, we are losing our society! A Secular Constitutional Federalist State that allows cattle grazing/ ranching anywhere must allow piggery anywhere.
It must allow people to go to heaven their own way without suffering affliction or encumbrances of unconstitutional religious laws.

Nigeria’s complex crises can never be resolved without a consciously built National consensus, preceded by apolitical national dialogue that recognizes historical and emerging critical blocs as vital constituents.

Even if we eventually resolve to have a Federalist structure, the operational spheres must be trashed out. We must make up our minds whether we need a Federalist Democracy or Federalist Theocracy or even a Federalist Ethnocracy! Nigerians are not just characteristically ethnic.

Many are withdrawing to their ethnic clans because the Motor of National Solidarity has been crushed with Train of Injustices. Millions of Press Release and emotional blackmail will not halt it. We must answer the question why is it acceptable for a subnational government to destroy Beer Business of people but unacceptable for another elsewhere to regulate its forest resources?

As long as Government and NGOs continue to colour conflict analysis with a crayon of politics, we will continue to search for peace in hallucinatory realms of illusion. Most of what we called herders-farmers conflicts is criminal invasion elevated by the failure of law enforcement and governance.

Every hate syndrome starts with unjust governance, and that is the fountain of all genocides! Our diversities; ethnic, religious, class and whatever must be properly and justly managed. Ordinary President Biden’s COVID Plan contains racial disaggregation and how differential racial impact would be responded to. That’s diversity management, even in Science.
There is no way one can succeed in governing a plural society without diversity sensitivity. Nigeria is in dire straits! Blaming Media and others for sins of President’s failure to effectively govern won’t solve the problem.

As a matter of National urgency, there is need to stop wasting scarce National resources on endless Constitutional Amendment, seize the opportunity of this frightening emergency period to focus only on two Items- State Police and Fiscal Federalist review by calling for meetings of 36 Governors, 36 Speakers of Houses of Assembly, 36 Jurists, NBA representatives and relevant academics with the National Assembly to fast track amendment that will respond to the present and future existential challenges while we work on a strategy for Restructure later on.

There is a need to build national consensus, restructure, re-define citizenship, responsibility and rights as well as promoting a new culture of justice and values of equity that will drive new Nigeria. Save Nigeria while she can still be saved. Act Now!

Gbenro Olajuyigbe is the Executive Director of Emergency & Risk Alert Initiative.

Vanguard News Nigeria 

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