WANEP @ 20: Stakeholders worry over rising insecurity

The West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP) Nigeria, has raised alarm over the rise in violent conflicts which it said has become a common feature in many communites across the country.
It also lamented that this has led to wanton destruction of lives and properties as well as massive displacement of many families.

This formed the core of discussion at the 20th anniversary/General Assembly of WANEP Nigeria, which held Wednesday at the AES Luxury Apartments, in Abuja with theme: 20 Years of WANEP Peacebuilding in Nigeria:”Galvanising Efforts to Strengthen the Peace and Security Agenda in Nigeria”.

The Assembly maintained that the insecurity situation is evident in jihadist insurgency (violent extremism) in the northeast staged by the Boko Haram Sect and other splinter groups, Militancy in the Niger -Delta region and other parts, Secessionist Agitations in the South East and South West regions, Agro – Pastoralists conflicts in the North Central states, kidnapping and banditry in the North West and pockets of communal conflicts witnessed across the country.

Delivering a keynote address on the theme, a Faculty Dean at the Institute for Peace and Strategic Studies at the University of Ibadan Professor Albert Olawale Isaac, blamed the current security situation majorly on what he termed “misplacement of priorities” and misappropriation of funds meant for tackling security, saying no part of Nigeria is safe.

He opined that the authorities are only building defense instead of actually tackling the root causes of insecurity which includes poverty, lack of education, adequate infrastructure amongst others.

“Monies for security are placed in the hands of wrong people. The monies used for employing more security personnel to fight insecurity as well as purchase of amunition should rather be channelled into making lives of citizens better by providing employment, education, infrastructure and other social amenities to the people,” he said.

Earlier, the Executive Director of WANEP Chukwuemeka Eze, stated that addressing the current exigencies of peace and security in Nigeria and the influence of the countries in the Sahel region on the stability of the country requires a systematic approach.

“Security challenges in the country in the wake of emergent phenomenon of ethnic cum political and religious violence, extremism, cultism, armed robbery, disrespect and general erosion of cultural values are all pointers to the need for comprehensive long-term strategies,” he said.

Similarly, the Vice Chairperson of WANEP Regional Board Dr. Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman, stressed the need for a review of the peace architecture, calling on relevant authorities to look more towards institutionalising peace rather than reacting when there is conflicts.

“There should be social justice and correct allocation of resources, dealing with things at minimal levels, making sure everybody is provided for and taken care of then conflicts may not even arise for government to react using the army, police and other security personnel.

“Resources used to fight banditory and other forms of insecurity should be used to engage citizens meaningfully and therefore prevent violent conflicts. Put systems in place, hear people out because if there are no systems for national healing, achieving peace would be difficult because a lot of people across the country have been wounded,” she explained.

Also speaking, the National Chairperson of WANEP Nigeria Dr. Abiola Akiyode Afolabi, noted the disturbing data on violent conflicts especially since the outbreak of Covid19 in 2020, charging the government to as a matter of urgency brief citizens daily on security status of the country to enable them know how to respond to happenings around them.

“Majority of people feel very unsafe in this country,” she added.