The Community Initiatives to Promote Peace (CIPP) project is designed to mitigate violent conflict in at-risk communities in six states of Nigeria’s North West (Kaduna, Kano, and Katsina States) and North Central (Kogi, Benue and Plateau States) zones through an integrated, multifaceted program that (1) empowers communities to prevent and respond to violence and violent extremism by strengthening key skills and relationships, and (2) fosters an enabling environment for peace through policy advocacy, media outreach, and linkages to development programs.
- Key Project Partners and Role:
- Mercy Corps Nigeria: Responsible for the management of the consortium as well as leading in the rigorous research, technical expertise in conflict prevention and response amongst others;
- Interfaith Mediation Centre (IMC):Leading interfaith dialogues and cross- religion exchanges for the purposes of promoting peace across the CIPP States.
- Pastoral Resolve (PARE): Leading dialogue and mediation training, bringing its expertise working at the community-level to prevent rural violence, especially between the farmers and pastoralist.
- Africa Radio and Drama Association (ARDA): Leading a communication and mass media strategy across all program activities and amplifying critical project awareness.
- Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development (SCDDD): Leading in analyzing evidence-based assessment on the relevant existing States and Federal policies vis-à-vis developing policies/bills that could possibly influence conflicts, as well as engaging with critical state actors and policy makers in advocating for policy change or review where necessary for the purposes of promoting sustainable peace and to mitigate violent conflict in at-risk communities in six (6) CIPP States.
- The project objectives include the underlisted
- To strengthen, more efficient, and more sustainable community-based Conflict Prevention, Mediation, Early Warning and Early Response (EWER) mechanisms;
- To increase linkages and collaboration among conflicting/vulnerable communities with government agencies, CSOs, and local leaders to address and respond to root causes of conflict;
- To deepen engagement of women in peace building and preventing violent extremism;
- To improve understanding of the dynamics and dangers of violent extremism among vulnerable communities to address extremist recruitment tactics;
- To foster an enabling environment for peace through policy advocacy, media outreach, and linkages to development programs;
- To improve Linkages between Conflict Mitigation and Development Initiatives.
- Project Cycle: The Community Initiative to Promote Peace Project is designed to span for five (5) years from July 2019 and will end by July 2024.
When Nigeria attained independence on 1st October 1960, Nigerians and the international community had great expectations that the new nation would make giant strides toward the attainment of good governance, durable peace and sustainable development in Africa. Such expectations and high hope were not misplaced considering the abundant human and natural resources with which Nigeria is endowed. Unfortunately, since independence, Nigeria as a nation has been plagued with diverse negative tendencies such as political instability, ethno-religious crises, claims of marginalization and consequently, a devastating civil war that some of the wounds are still being nursed. The consequences of these challenges have made it very difficult for Nigeria to attain the lofty ideals that came with political independence.
In spite of having overcome the 30 month’s bitter civil war, its consequences, regrettably, have continued to remain with us till today. Attempts at stabilizing the polity, led Nigeria’s political leaders and the elite to try out different forms or structure of government- federalism, parliamentary democracy, military dictatorship and now, presidential democratic system. The National Conference of 2014 was one of these engagements or the series of dialogues on the best system of government and structural arrangement for effective governance of the country. Unfortunately, its Report is yet to be fully implemented.
Half a century since the civil war ended, different levels of expressions and agitations for the soul of the Nigerian State kept emerging from and across the six geopolitical zones, threatening national unity and desired development. The security challenges that have continued to plague our country include the Boko Haram insurgency, which had and continue to have devastating impact on Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States, cattle rustling across the nation, particularly, North West and North Central, not forgetting the Shiite- Military clash with unimaginable backlashes, especially in the North West. Other security challenges are the resurgence of the Avengers in the Niger Delta in the South-South and kidnapping for ransom across the country. These violent conflicts sometimes have their roots in the perception and reality of economic, social, political and even security imbalances, feelings or perceptions of being marginalized and or excluded from governance. Today, Nigerians appear to have drifted away from each other or away from the Federal Government. This is a threat to national unity and cohesion, with negative impact on the socio-economic development of Nigeria.
In view of the foregoing, the Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development (SCDDD), in collaboration with Sir Emeka Offor Foundation (SEOF), sees an opportunity for renewal of efforts to engage a cross section of interest groups across Nigeria for National Unity and cohesion. We believe strongly that in the current atmosphere where consensus among the critical stakeholders is lacking, necessary buy-in by the majority for national unity, durable peace and sustainable development cannot be achieved. Hence, SCDDD and SEOF are proposing a programme of Continuous Engagement for National Unity (CENU) to effectively address the challenges of governance and national cohesion in the country. For effectiveness and impact, a group of eminent Nigerians tagged “Advocacy and Mediation Council” (AMC), drawn from the six geo-political zones, is established by SCDDD and SEOF to help drive this very important narrative alongside national questions as well as governance priorities for sustainable development.
- Many school of thoughts and compatriots have maintained however that Nigeria as a nation may remain in the wood for a very long period if the current federal structure is not restructured into a confederation that is viable and workable. A structure similar to what the Nigeria’s founding fathers put in place to address the challenges that let them to opt for a less centralized system, by devolution of more responsibilities and powers to the federating units with the accompanying resources that include greater control of the resources in their respective areas. Which would mean, the reduction in the direct involvement of the Centre on how the federating units are run, by focusing more on matters of national unity and cohesion, such as; defence, immigration, customs and excise, foreign policy, aviation as well as setting and implementing national standard on such areas as education, health and safety.
- To answer some of the Nigeria’s national questions and problems however, the successive government since 1999 till date had made commendable efforts in setting up different initiatives, ranging from national conferences to electoral reform panel amongst others, but none of these efforts has yielded the desired results due to what some people describe as “lack of political will-power, political power-play and conflict of interest” by the government officials themselves. A situation that has continued to threaten the national unity and oneness of Nigeria, expanding the failures in governance, weak and inefficient public institutions, as well as ineptitude and wastages of resources by the governing class across the different arms of government. All these accentuated the palpable lack of public trust in governments and its institutions.
- It is pellucid from the foregoing, that addressing Nigeria's precarious political and good governance challenges can best be achieved through a collective-action-driven approach that pays more attention to Nigeria’s federating structural problems than political and socio-economic problems. Accordingly, the SCDDD designed the second edition of the LEAD Project which would complement the first edition in context, reach and impact. Apart from the fact that LEAD-2 is fashioned to be action driven through sets of in-depth desk-review on selected national documents, national online forums/policies discussions on the state of the nation, critical stakeholders engagement/buy-in visits, regional consultative forums and weekly radio show on a national frontline radio station in Abuja. The Savannah Centre’s Council of the Wise will be the driver of this project once again for impact and effectiveness.
Following the series of national challenges in recent times, a group of well-meaning and concerned Nigerians from all walks of life met to draw the attention of the Federal Government to what they termed as unsatisfactory response and publicly expressed the need for concerted efforts, in collaboration with the civil society organizations, to proffer lasting solutions to the challenges of governance in Nigeria. Of particular concern, was the recent Endsars Protests which snowballed into rioting and criminal acts across the country, posing serious threat to the unity of the country. The group issued a press release articulating steps to be taken to improve engagement with citizens and, in particular, the youth.
With specific reference to national security, conflicts within the Nigerian polity have gradually increased in tempo since the return to democratic governance in the country in 1999. Inherent in democracy itself, is conflict and resolution, hence the need to review, from time to time, the mechanisms for the management of conflict in a democracy in order to deliver “greatest happiness to the greatest number of the people”.
The resurgent insurgency in the Northeast, banditry and cattle rustling in the Northwest, herder-farmer clashes in the North Central, and kidnapping, cultism, communal clashes, among others in the South, continue to threaten the peace and security of the nation. Security agencies seem not able to keep pace with wide public demands for better protection of lives and properties of citizens. This has given rise to various agitations for State Police and or Community Policing. Government’s hesitant response has led to the formation of regional security organizations, such as the Amotekun in the Southwest, Shege Kafasa in the Northwest and Odinigwe in the Southeast based on the argument that the adoption of the Civilian Joint Task Force in the Northeast was an endorsement of the need for regional security outfits. While these issues remain unresolved, the wave of insecurity increases with devastating consequences on national unity and development, hence the need for urgent solutions.
ENDSARS AND IMPLICATIONS:
The Endsars Protests drew the Federal Government of Nigeria into broad consultations with the six geo-political zones which the Chief of Staff to the President personally coordinated and led. The broad consultations were held largely with geo-political Governors, Traditional Rulers and some prominent Nigerians, as stakeholders.
While at the core of the Endsars Protests, was the Police high-handedness and brutality, in which most victims have been the hapless youths, it must be admitted that addressing the prevalent conditions of abject poverty, huge unemployment and unemployable youths as well as deficits in critical infrastructure, remain the most significant pathway in the resolution of the multiple challenges facing the nation. Besides, the adoption of the 5-point demands of the Endsars Protesters, must necessarily move fast and transparently into the implementation stage, hence help Governments, States and Federal, to reclaim the trust of the people.
Most fundamental and therefore, significant galvanizing imperative is the absolute necessity to commence effective but zonalised stakeholders dialogues, with the hope of isolating areas of convergences as well as areas of divergences for national consensus from which a precise Presidential Dialogue can be built around to facilitate national healing, unity, cohesion and development of Nigeria for which Democracy should be truly people-driven.
MANNER OF ENGAGEMENTS:
Despite mid-wifing the broad consultations by the Federal Government, which the Chief of Staff to the President led, the next stage of the zonalised Dialogues, is strongly NOT recommended to be driven by the Federal Government, instead, that should be driven by a reputable Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO/Civil Society Organisation (CSO), with convening power, or a coalition of such CSOs, can be empowered to lead these efforts. The Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development, fits this role and should drive the processes. The reason is simple. The level of distrust for Government and some of her initiatives is quite high and we should not risk the opportunity of this singular action and lose the possibility of attaining/reaching national consensus on critical challenges and issues facing our nation. Nonetheless, having already commenced the consultation with the State Governors and Traditional Rulers, Government is encouraged to remain seized with this initiative which will provide a platform for the Federal-State badly needed collaboration that should target areas of governance deficits to be addressed, including the operational actualization templates on the five-point demands of the Endsars Protests.
CORE AREAS FOR ENGAGEMENTS:
The zonalised Dialogues on the other hand, as an NGO/CSO-driven project is expected to enhance the possibility of its ownership by the people. The identified areas of focus for the zonal interactive dialogues are expected to include but not limited to the under-listed:
- National Unity Imperatives;
- National Security Challenges;
- Youths and Women Development; and
- CSO-Government Partnership.
The time frame for this initial phase of the zonalised dialogues, will be three (3) months, and efforts should be made to conclude them by the end of the first quarter of 2021 with a report and appropriate recommendations to be shared with the Federal Government through the Chief of Staff to the President, not later than March 31, 2021. The follow-up-stage should be clearly identified in the report.
It is expected that the outcome of the three months of zonal engagements would provide the basis of the intended Presidential National Dialogues on the State of the Nation. As a platform, this Dialogue will be expected to drive consensus that would be generated through frank discussions and committed efforts that will enable necessary policies that will be put together for national revival, with clear implementation templates. The CSO-led engagements would continue, especially around areas where broad consensus may not have been reached or around any other emerging issues that would impede unity and progress of the nation.
KEY DELIVERABLE ITEMS:
- Conduct a virtual or physical consultative/buy-in engagement to selected critical stakeholders and gate keepers in the zone (with such engagement properly recorded or documented for the purposes of report compilations);
- In-depth desk-review of previous reports, namely: 1996 report of Political Bureau, 1994/95 Abacha conference report, 2005 National Political conference by Obasanjo, 2014 Jonathan's national conference and indeed the APC 2018 report on true Federalism to isolate the common grounds that can be taken forward.
- Hold a two (2) day physical zonal Interactive Dialogue Meetings (IDM) on Imperative of National Dialogues for Unity, Security and Development with not less than fifty (50) persons selected from states in the zone in attendance; The discussions during this interactive dialogues should focus on the following imperatives;
- National Unity;
- National Security Challenges;
- Youths and Women Development; and
- CSO-Government Partnership
- Production and submission to SCDDD, ten (10) copies of outcome document that clearly identifies the following;
- Problem Definition and Context (specific to the zone cover by the report)
- Current Reality
- Major challenges
- Actionable Recommendations
- Photograph (Action Pictures), and
- Detail Attendance List
- Submission of activities report per event (As well as cumulative activities report at the end of the project)
Regional Insecurity and Threat Assessment Mapping:
To effectively reset for national unity, cohesion and development with a mindset of ‘All of Nation’ platform that would positively guarantee a more compact and trusting, national discourse and action, an in-depth research analyses and mapping would be carried out in each of Nigeria’s geo-political zones, with intent to identify; major insecurity threat and causes, hot spots, key actors, master-minder and possible supporters, vis-à-vis suggesting actionable recommendations that would be adopted and forwarded to the Federal Government, as a way of complementing the regional engagement and activities been carried out by the CSO partners across the six geo-political zones of Nigeria.