July 9, 2021

2023 may not be feasible with rising conflicts, insecurity in Nigeria, UK warns

No soldier killed by unknown gunmen in Abia ―Army

….Lists active insurgency in N-East, farmers-herders’ conflicts, resource conflicts in N-Delta, tension in S-East, banditry in N-West.

…Insecurity threatening expression of rights of all Nigerians —Govs

….Say proliferation of small arms, light weapons claimed over 78,000 lives between May 2011 to Feb 2021

By Henry Umoru

Ahead of the 2023 general elections in Nigeria, the British government has warned that the 2023 general elections in Nigeria may not hold due to rising cases of conflicts across the country, with calls for breakup and secession.

Speaking at the launch of Nigeria Governors’ Forum Peace and Inclusive Security Initiative , PISI, in Abuja yesterday, the Director, Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office in the United Kingdom, Chris Beecroft, said Nigeria was currently faced with significant peace and security challenges.

According to him, there is an active insurgency in the North East; farmers-herders’ conflicts which are extending across the country, resource conflicts in the Niger Delta, tension in the South-East and banditry in the North West.

He noted that Nigeria was at a critical juncture in its journey, adding that time had come for new thinking and action to build a more peaceful future for all Nigerians.  Beecroft said: “We are at a critical juncture in Nigeria’s journey, and now is an important moment for new thinking and action to build a more peaceful future for all Nigerians.

“The Foreign, Common-wealth and Development Office values our relationship with the Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, and have supported the NGF through our programmes, including SPARC, PERL and most recently the Technical Assistance provided in framing the Peace and Inclusive Security initiative, PISI.

“Nigeria faces significant peace and security challenges. There is an active insurgency in the North East; famer-herder conflicts are extending across the country; resource conflicts in the Delta; tension in the South-East; and banditry in the North West. The rise in conflict risks destabilising Nigeria’s democracy in the run-up to the 2023 elections.

“Conflict destroys lives, destroys livelihoods, destroys hope and ambition for the future. Conflict represents an existential threat to Nigeria’s unity and its development.

‘’The police and army are in urgent need of reform-but the solution to Nigeria’s instability does not lie in simply strengthening the police and army-but rather in building an effective social contract, building federal, state, local and community level infrastructure to manage conflict; and in giving young people jobs and opportunities so they have a stake in a prosperous and peaceful Nigeria.

‘’Injustice and impunity, weak Justice institutions, the proliferation of small arms and weapons, the weaponization of social media, are all drivers of conflict and instability. But with the right commitment, dedications and support, there are solutions.

“The UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, FCDO, recognises the important role NGF plays in setting the peace and security agenda, building state level and community level structures and institutions to reduce violence and respond to conflict and insecurity across Nigeria.

“The FCDOis keen to continue its collaboration with and support for the government of Nigeria in its efforts to deal with the mounting insecurity. The UK is pleased to have been able to support this initiative and is committed to continue working with the Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, in advancing its pea/ce and security agenda.

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“The UK is engaged in supporting Nigeria to reduce violent conflict in a number of areas; we promote a regional response in the North East and Lake Chad Basin through our contribution to the Regional Stabilisation Facility, RSF, and delivery of programmes on peace building, humanitarian assistance, protection of civilians, human development, good governance and accountability.

‘’All our programming, whether focused on health, education, economic growth, or governance, works to reduce the risk of violent conflict and support peace-building infrastructure.

“Peace and stability will be achieved when the causes of conflict in society are managed through strong, fair, and responsive governance mechanisms, whether at community, state, or federal level.

‘’The use of the police and army will always be only part of the solution. Greater emphasis needs to be placed on reconciliation, mediation, arbitration, and access to justice – all vital components of a vibrant, resilient, and effective social contract.”

Meanwhile, the NGF raised the alarm that the  level of insecurity in the country was not only eroding citizens’ safety and peoples means of livelihood but also threatening the expression of the rights of all Nigerians.

Chairman of NGF and Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, in his opening remarks at the launch, noted that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the country had also made the insecurity situation worse and exacerbated the level of violence and fatalities from crime.

According to him, between May 2011 and February 2021, over 76,000 deaths were reported by the press and tracked by the Nigeria Security Tracker, NST – project of the Council an Foreign Relations,  Africa program, which documents violence in Nigeria.

Fayemi said:  ‘’Today’s event heralds an important milestone for the Forum as we seek to build a more inclusive and collaborative platform to drive an urgent country-wide response to the security challenge our country is facing.

“Nigeria is still at the crossroads. One of the key areas where there is urgent need for consensual action today is security governance, given the escalation in the spate of violence and coordinated criminal activities that have undermined government authority and waned public trust in recent times.

‘’The level of insecurity across parts of the country is not only eroding citizens safety and peoples means of livelihood, it is also threatening the expression of the rights of all Nigerians.

Vanguard News Nigeria