COMMUNIQUÉ ISSUED AT THE END OF A ROUNDTABLE ON THE SECURITY SITUATION IN NIGERIA TAGGED ‘EVOLVING A STRATEGY FOR PROMOTING SUSTAINABLE PEACE AND SECURITY IN NIGERIA’ HELD AT THE BOLTON WHITE HOTEL ON TUESDAY MARCH 21ST OCTOBER 2012 IN ABUJA FCT NIGERIA.
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) in partnership with the Africa Nations Development Programme (ANDP) organized a roundtable on the security situation in Nigeria tagged ‘Evolving a Strategy for Promoting Sustainable Peace and Security in Nigeria’ The meeting was held at the Bolton White Hotel, Abuja on 20th March 2012. The meeting had in attendance a broad range of stakeholders including Civil Society, the media, the Police and security agencies Ministries, departments and Agencies of government with responsibility for conflict prevention, management and mitigation.
Three key papers were delivered that provided the platform for discussions on the ‘An Assessment of Existing Frameworks for Sustainable National Security’, ‘Government’s Response to the Present Security Challenges: An Appraisal’ and ‘An Evaluation of Media Coverage of Current National Security Issues. The meeting is situated within the context of the growing insecurity and violence in the country; against the background of interrogating institutional framework and governance interventions. The role of citizens in building sustainable peace and facilitate a platform to share knowledge and broaden the alternatives for dealing with the situation in the country presently amongst and within stakeholders.
Key observations and recommendations from roundtable follow;
Ø The political and economic evolution of Nigeria is undamentally flawed and provides the issues that drive agitation and subsequently violent manifestation of grievances.
Ø The legal framework and policies for national security existing in the country though provides a basic framework for conflict prevention and peace building; lacks supporting institutional structures and resource for its
Ø Effective structure for the collation, analysis and dissemination of intelligence is lacking within Nigerian law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
Ø Police and other security agencies fighting this war on terror are not well equipped and lack the necessary motivation to deal with the issue of crime and criminality in a strategic manner.
Ø The Nigerian Government’s neo-liberal and market driven approach to development through privatization, commercialization and the denationalization of key industries is engendering poverty. Daily jobs are lost on the altar of these approach adding to the hordes of unemployed Nigerians and providing a fertile ground for recruiting violent grievances against the state
Ø Governments lacks the political will to deal effectively with the rising tide of violence in the country and do not inspire confidence amongst the citizens, oftentimes, Government’s responses are viewed in the perspective of politicking with the situation at hand.
Ø The media plays a key and central role as an interface between government and the people facilitate the flow of information on the dynamics of society and set the agenda for national development. How these roles are handled in the context of the situation presently in the country would have overwhelming impact on the outcome.
Ø Government has the ultimate responsibility to guarantee the protection of lives and property of Nigerians on one hand and citizens a duty to hold government accountable on its constitutional responsibility through constructive engagement on the other
Ø Democracy can be said to be thriving only when it guarantees the rights and meets the needs and aspirations of the people, the government have the responsibility to protect and uphold the rights of Nigerians, guarantee freedom from fear and want and create the enabling environment for pursuit of sustainable growth and development
Ø Nigeria as a country must put in place a process to deal with contentious issues in the constitution such as resource mobilisation andcontrol, citizenship, religion and ethnicity. These issues as foundation blocks of our nationhood have not been discussed exhaustively and a consensus built on them. Therefore they would continue to be whipped up by politicians and disgruntled elements in causing trouble in the country
Ø Government must demonstrate a commitment to a holistic approach in dealing with the situation at hand especially as it relates to human security; beyond the deployment of security agencies and strategies it should put in place a robust development programme that should be seen to be addressing the development challenges of unemployment, illiteracy, corruption
amongst others facing the country.
Ø The 2012 budget appropriates huge amount to the security sector, therefore the Nigerian Police and other security agencies must be adequately funded, provided logistics, adequately equipped with, the right skilled manpower and expertise to confront the challenge of the security situation in the country
Ø Government should as a matter of urgency initiate a multi-stakeholder approach to dealing with the security situation in the country. This approach should be designed to harness the knowledge, experience and capacity of stakeholders, Civil Society and integrate the concerns of Nigerians at all levels. This should be fused with a coherent interagency cooperation.
Ø A whistle blowers and Witness protection policy that guarantees the safety and protection of the identity of whistle blowers should be put in place by the government to facilitate the flow of information from citizens to aid the security agencies in the fight against terror.
Ø The existing penal and criminal codes should be reviewed in line with existing realities with regards to crime and punishment as they extremely undermine the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes such as kidnapping, terrorism amongst others
Ø National Assembly should as a matter of urgency revisit the existing legal frameworks for National Security to deal with issues of structures, institutions and resources to make them functional and responsive to dynamics of contemporary security challenges
Ø The media has a responsibility as a watchdog of society, its approach and reportage of the ensuing crises should not celebrate the violence but objective enough to deepen national integration, engender accountability, mobilize collective solution and action in dealing with the situation at hand
Participants thanked CISLAC and ANDP for initiating this discourse at this point in time and called on the organizers to broaden the platform to include more stakeholders as well as the frontiers for engagement with the policy space.
Executive Director, CISLACNo tags for this post.