Disturbed by the perennial conflicts that have bedeviled the nation, the Governing Council and management of the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) have rolled out their action plan in line with the mandate of the IPCR to build peace, beginning with Zamfara conflict and later to other parts of the country. Ochiaka Ugwu writes on the roadmap enumerated by the Institute to bring lasting peace to the affected areas.
The Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) no doubt has the mandate to mediate in conflict situations through building and strengthening peace architecture that will ensure sustainable peace and stability. It was based on this prevailing reality that made the Institute to hold a press briefing towards re-strategizing on peace building and conflict resolution.
In a press conference jointly addressed by the Chairman of the Governing Council of the Institute, Senator Dr. Mohammed Abba Aji and its acting Director-General, Dr. Bakut tswah Bakut on Monday in Abuja, showed the readiness and commitment of the institute to peace building with the intent of making all part of the country safe and stable for development.
Sen. Abba Aji informed that the Institute has decided to take all important steps to deal with the ugly situation in Zamfara State by sending a Fact Finding Technical Committee that will be saddled with the responsibility of meeting with State, Local officials, Victims, relevant agencies, groups, and other stakeholders.
“Although financial constraints have greatly hampered lPCR’s abilities to operate at full capacity, the Council now intends to take all necessary steps to deal with the situation in Zamfara State by first, sending three Fact Finding Technical Committee. This Fact Finding Technical Committee will visit and meet with the State and Local officials, Victims, relevant agencies, groups and other stakeholders in order to obtain pertinent data that will enable IPCR to restore the peace in Zamfara State”.
He said they chose Zamfara given the fact of its less controversial nature unlike other parts where certain natural divisions and affiliations featured prominently.
Aji noted that the Institute with the responsibility to intervene in crisis situation with the aim of restoring peace will obtain pertinent data that will enable it to restore peace in the state.
“On behalf of the members of the Governing Council and the management of this Institute, it is indeed a great honour for me to address this Press Conference for the first time since our inauguration in March. As you all know, some parts of our Nation have for Many years, been confronted by different forms of violent conflict some of which have resulted in huge humanitarian crises. While we appreciate the various efforts being made by the Federal, State and Local Governments to address these situations, it is also the statutory responsibility of the IPCR to intervene in such situations and to restore the peace”.
While appreciating the effort of government at all levels in peace mainstreaming, he informed that some parts of the country for years have been engulfed in different forms of conflict in which some left a huge humanitarian crises on its wake.
He said the Institute will be interfacing with Federal and State Governments on insecurity issues in other parts of the country to nip it in the bud.
“Indeed, we will soon, be adequately interfacing with Federal and State Governments on this and other insecurity issues in other parts of the country in order to effectively deal with the insecurity”.
Aji however, expressed optimism that the conflicts were surmountable and appealed to all Nigerians to remain law abiding and support the government and security agencies. He also charged the media on reportage that will promote peace and harmony.
“Gentlemen of the Press, it is our belief that these conflicts are surmountable. We are therefore using this opportunity to appeal to all Nigerians to remain law abiding and supportive of the Government and the security agencies. In this regard, the role of the media is very crucial. We therefore, urge the media to always put the nation’s interest and the promotion of peaceful coexistence before anything else in their reportage.
“Let me assure all Nigerians of the commitment of members of the Governing Council, the management and the entire staff of the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution to assiduously work toward making every part of this country safe for everybody”.
Also speaking, Dr. Bakut tswah Bakut informed that the Institute will mobilize a team of researchers to the three senatorial zones of Zamfara to ascertain the current causes and dynamics of the conflicts and proffer solutions that will bring lasting peace to the area.
Bakut who noted that conflict is dynamic in nature and conflict entrepreneurs change along with it, said they will be having series of stakeholders’ engagements at various levels of the state to re-energize the early warning and early response mechanism.
“May I start by thanking you for attending this press briefing on the Peace and Security Challenges in Zamfara State. This briefing has become very necessary because while the Federal and State Governments are spending so much money in trying to ameliorate the situation, the conflict and criminality keeps rising by the day.
“The Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution considers this very worrisome considering the numerous Sensitization workshops and Town Hall meetings held as well as the Conflict Early Warning and Early Response Mechanisms put in place since our last Strategic Conflict Assessment (SCA) in 2016.
“The Strategic Conflict Assessment of Nigeria by the Institute for peace and Conflict Resolution identified Violent Armed Rural/Banditry, Cattle Rustling, Land disputes, Farmer/Pastoralist conflict, Political/Electoral violence and Kidnapping as the major conflict in the state. It also identified the following areas as the most affected: Dansadau, Dangulbi, Anka, Shinkafi, Zurmi-Gidanjaja, Maradun, Birnin Magaji and Tsafe.
“Weapon used in the violent conflicts include locally made guns, sophisticated imported rifles and other small arms, bows and arrows, sticks, clubs, swords, cutlasses, cudgels, assorted charms and consignment of gun powder and machetes. Our survey showed that the citizens in most of the affected areas now live in fear and farming which is the major occupation of more than 80% of the population has been literally abandoned.
“Consequently the Institute will by next week mobilize a team of researchers to the three senatorial zones of Zamfara to ascertain the current causes and dynamics of the conflicts and proffer solutions that will bring lasting peace back to the area. We are aware that conflict is dynamic and the entrepreneurs change along with the conflict.
“We therefore, shall be having series of stakeholders’ meetings at various levels of the state (State, Local Government and Communities) and re-energize our Early Warning and Early Response Mechanisms in the state. This shall take three – four weeks of fieldwork and the output shall be shared with various stakeholders especially the Federal and State governments, security agencies and development partners for more informed, positive and proactive interventions”.
“Gentlemen of the Press, the Institute for Peace and Conflict (Resolution acknowledges that without peace there cannot be development. Therefore, for development to reach all the nooks and crannies of the state there must be that enabling environment, which is a peaceful society.
“We also realize the large unsecured space and forest in the state as well as the porous borders. Our findings will therefore try to reach all the agencies associated with security and border controls to enable our citizens enjoy the full benefits of the agenda of the present Government of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR.
“Once again, I thank you for coming to this press briefing and pray for peace in Zamfara and the country at large. You should therefore join hands with us in finding lasting solution to the peace and security challenges in Zamfara and the country in general” he concluded.