By Ochiaka Ugwu
It was an event to behold when the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) in collaboration with the Centre for Sustainable Development and Education in Africa (CSDEA), with support from the European Union and the Global Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (CSPPS) organized a One-Day-Stakeholders conference on the UNSCR 2250 and Youth and Security Agenda in Abuja.
The conference which took place on the 29th of August, 2019 had in attendance, civil society groups, women and youth groups, relevant government agencies, United Nations bodies, donor agencies, members of the diplomatic corps, media, and security agencies.
While delivering his opening remarks, Director General of Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), Prof. Bakut tswah Bakut urged Nigerian youth to be agent of peace in the nation.
Bakut who stated that youth are protesting given the fact that four years after the adoption of their resolution nothing significant has been done to implement the outcome, asked the youth to stop protesting as process to ensure they are included in the scheme of things has begun.
Bakut who took audience down memory lane stated that UNSCR 2250 was adopted by the United Nations in recognition of young people’s role in maintenance and promotion of international peace and security.
He informed that IPCR is part of the process of Nigeria’s implementation of the International Dialogue for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (IDPS) and its New Deal for Engagement in Conflict Affected States, and that the conference will investigate, track and document progress in the implementation of the Youth, Peace and Security agenda in Nigeria while also developing a robust implementation mechanism for the country.
He noted the IPCR being a government agency that is tasked with the mandate for researching, promoting, managing and resolving conflict in Nigeria and Africa is committed to this process and hence the collaboration with CSDEA.
“Both the IPCR and the CSDEA have been working together and recently set up a National Working Group to produce a progress report on the implementation of SDG 16 in Nigeria. The UNSCR 2250 is an integral part of the implementation of SDG 16 in Nigeria” he said.
Bakut also called for Nigeria’s membership of the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (IDPS) and the g7+, saying the membership will avail Nigeria the opportunity to access the benefits and support to address the issue of conflicts and sustainable peace in Nigeria.
Also speaking, Executive Director, Centre for Sustainable Development and Education in Africa (CSDEA) Mr. Theophilus Ekpon said that young people have potentials that if harnessed can lead to peace and development of great magnitude.
Ekpon stated that young people should always be seen as part of the solution and not the problem.
He said that following the pattern of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on women, the UNSCR 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security was passed by the Security Council in December 2015 to see how young people can be recognized globally as partners in peace and development.
He stated that with the passage of the UNSCR 2250, the need to domesticate the resolution in Nigeria and beyond became very clear and a Global Coalition on Youth, Peace and Security was formed.
“It is within this context that the Centre for Sustainable Development and Education in Africa (CSDEA) and the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) decided to partner with relevant stakeholders to domesticate this process in Nigeria.
Ekpon said that the UNSCR 2250 was launched in Nigeria in October 2016, after which a Working Group to look into the implementation of the resolution was set up.
He also stated how the Secretary General of the United Nations commissioned three Steering Committees to work on the Global Study on Youth and Peacebuilding, to inform the world on the state of youth, peace and security.
He said the Global Study report and the report on the Leadership Role of Young People in Preventing Violent Extremism in the Lake Chad Basin were launched in Abuja in March, 2019 and participants at the launch event called for this Multi-stakeholders Conference to further identify the issues and way forward for Nigeria.
Also speaking, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Chief Technical Advisor for Election in Nigeria, Mr. Isaack Otieno said it is important that youths’ voices are amplified and position of young people articulated.
Otieno who also chaired the occasion stressed the need for continues dialogue and discussion on how to get more youth and women into positions of authority to develop the society.
While emphasizing UNDP’s commitment to youth inclusion, empowerment, engagement and ensuring that the Resolution 2250 is domesticated and implemented within the system, structure of Nigeria and beyond, he said his agency is ready to work with young people as their voice is important in the ongoing discussion on SDG 16, and hence their voices should be amplified and reflect in policies and programs that govern them.
He encouraged Nigeria to domesticate the resolution and increase the number of young people particularly women in legislative houses and public offices in Nigeria stating that the recent composition of appointments of Ministers in Nigeria reflects the lack of inclusion of young people.
He maintained that relevant authorities of government should ensure that the discussion on SDG 16 is alive in the public space.
His words, “Nigeria needs to sustain the dialogue around sustainable peace through the framework of SDG l6, and that the establishment of a National Working Group (NWG) on SDG 16 is a demonstration of Nigeria’s commitment to domestication and implementation of the UNSCR 2250”.
He challenged the NWG to come up with a framework of sustainable dialogue with young people in Nigeria.
Mr. Otieno appreciated the resilient and resourceful nature of young people in Nigeria while encouraging the institutions of government to harvest and tap into the oasis of this knowledge of experience in its young citizens as they are assets to move the country to higher level of development and democracy.
He said that the ongoing governance challenges of armed conflict, insecurity, within Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin provide opportunities that must be harnessed for sustainable peace and development.
“The international community and development partners should work together in achieving the aspiration that came from the High Level Meeting that took place in Niger for inter-state development, peace and security.
“We cannot achieve sustainable peace without the realization of the commitments and goals of resolution 2250 including the incorporation of youthful voice in every space, dialogue, engagement, and meeting” he concluded.
Charge De Affairs of the Norwegian Embassy in Nigeria, Ms. Ingrid Skjolaas, informed stakeholders on Norway’s contribution in trying to resolve the Lake Chad Basin crisis in recognition that crisis cannot be solved by one agency rather it is through collaboration and co-hosting to provide holistic solution and focusing on humanitarian-support, development, peace and dialogue.
She added that Norway is committed and ready to support those working in the area of peace and dialogue with reference to youth engagement and involvement.
The Director of Civil/Military Relations of the Nigerian Military, Air Cmdr David Aluku who represented the Chief of Air Staff noted that the position of youth is very essential in any society due to the fact that everybody started off as a youth.
He said the military always see the youth as one who got all and decided to join and be part of the system.
Therefore, the military is committed to working with the youth, but encourage them to see Nigeria as their own by getting involved in nation building and national security.
He stated that security is centered on citizens and therefore requires the efforts of the entire nation, adding that those in the helm of affairs can only be accountable if the citizens are part of the system.
The representative of the Senior Special Assistant to President on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Dr Baia Yusuf Yunisa stated that the 17 SDGs cannot be achieved without SDG 16 and 17, adding that Nigeria has made significant progress in terms of institutionalizing the framework for 5065 implementation, policies and programme that support horizontally and vertically to attain SDGs in Nigeria.
Finally, Mr. Andrew Nkemneme a staff of IPCR who gave an overview of the UNSCR 2250 as it relates to youth, peace and security, stated that young people have been seen as perpetrators but resolution 2250 mandates a change of narrative. He therefore, presented the objectives of the program.