By Longtong Ibrahim
The need for synergy and interstate relationships among peacebuilders within the North-west region as well as the involvement of both state and non-state actors in peace building has been identified as key factors to fostering and sustaining peace in the region.
This was a part of the issue discussed at a one-day zonal workshop in Kano on Wednesday, organized by the Centre for Democratic Studies of the Bayero University Kano, Mambayya House in partnership with the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), with the theme ‘Building Connectivity among Peace Builders to Address the Challenges of Banditry and Terrorism in Nigeria’s North-west Zone’.
The workshop aims to catalyze the development of a robust and vibrant community of peace-building practitioners, experts, governments, research institutions, and community-based peace-building organizations in the North-West Geo-Political Zone.
One of the broad objectives of the event is to enhance connectivity and collaboration among the community of diverse peacebuilding actors – practitioners, governments, community stakeholders, and others, to realize durable peace throughout the region, with a focus on improving efforts in addressing conflict challenges in local communities experiencing ongoing conflicts.
The Director of Mambayya House, Prof Habu Mohammed, in his presentation titled, Conflict setting and the nature of peacebuilding in the North-west Zone, noted that Nigeria has been associated with different types of conflicts that occur at different times and level with various degrees of effect on nation building.
According to him, some kinds of conflicts mostly associated with the North-west region include resource-based conflict, religious cum sectarian conflict, political conflict/violence, kidnapping, and rural banditry which he explained occurred casually or recurrently with victims being target specific or indiscriminate.
He also noted that the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Norte Dame described peacebuilding as the development of constructive personal, group, and political relationships across ethnic, religious, class, national, and racial boundaries; adding that, CSOs focusing on conflict prevention and transformation needs to have comprehensive knowledge of conflict origin, work together with the local people both inside and beyond parties in conflict.
“CSOs help in supporting and sustaining domestic and social groups, build peace in communities, strengthen capability, empower principal actors, engage in organizational development, network and training.
“They are expected to build strong connectivity among themselves to address the current challenges of insecurity bedeviling the Northwest in particular and Nigeria in general.
Earlier in his welcome address, Prof. Mohammed said participants were drawn from various vibrant organizations across the zone and brought together to discuss and network on what they can do on peacebuilding to promote peace and ensure a stable, peaceful, prosperous, and harmonious region and Nigeria as a whole.
He added that the lingering crisis in the Northwest especially states like Zamfara, and Katsina, is quite disturbing as such there is a need to bring peace stakeholders to enhance connectivity and collaboration among the community of diverse peace-building actors – practitioners, governments, community stakeholders and others.
“To realize durable peace throughout the region, with a focus on improving efforts in addressing conflict challenges in local communities experiencing ongoing conflicts; and build durable peace as well as enhance engagement by sharing information, development of understanding and identification of needs among them,” he added.
USIP Community Engagement Officer, Terfa Hemen, in his remarks, pointed out that, a lot of people and organization are doing good work around peacebuilding in communities but lacks synergy to make their work very impactful.
“There is a missing gap, no synergy between this organization doing this work, so people are working in silos and the impact they are making are not holistic.
“So at USIP, we thought that moving forward – one thing we can do to support all the groups, individuals working on the issue of conflict are trying to create that synergy, increase how the organization can network among themselves.
“In that light, we feel that the impact of what they are doing would be holistic and more impactful in trying to bring this to the communities.
He tasked participants to continue in the peace-building process, noting that peace-building is a process and not something that can be achieved in a day.
“Sometimes there are setbacks, when you achieve results you can still go back and see that trouble has started, so there is a need not to give up, but be persistent as that can lead to the result we are looking for,” he said.
In his presentation, Deputy Director of Research and Development of Mambayya House, Dr. Sa’idu Abdullahi, who spoke on building relationships in peacebuilding in the region said there is a need for both state and non-state actors to come together to resolve the lingering conflict ravaging the region.
He said: “Peacebuilding involved a series of activities because violence kept on increasing which affects everyone and led to underdevelopment.”
He however stressed the need for intra and inter-relationship and synergy to overcome the challenges.
Participants at the event brought forth some of the issues that are responsible for the conflict in the region including; illegal mining, banditry, farmers-harders conflict, Kidnapping, use of illicit substances, unguarded migration of camels (migrating herders), armed robbery, political conflict, phone snatching and cattle rustling among others.