Date: August 18, 2014
By Jude Obuseh
The escalating incidences of violent conflicts in Nigeria have become a pressing national concern, posing a grave threat to peace, stability, security, development, and growth. Violence has sadly become a cultural norm in the country, with confrontational conflict resolution methods being preferred over peaceful alternatives. The proliferation of armed groups, both private and public, further exacerbates the situation, leading to a boiling point where peace seems elusive.
Nigeria’s history is marred with avoidable conflicts that could have been prevented through proactive measures. The Niger Delta Crisis and the ongoing Boko Haram insurgency are prime examples of conflicts that escalated due to the wrong approach to conflict resolution during their early stages.
It is essential to acknowledge that conflict prevention is far superior to trying to cure its consequences. We must heed the wisdom of “prevention is better than cure.” The urgency of the situation demands the immediate implementation of comprehensive national security strategies with a focus on prevention rather than reactive measures.
The concept of Preventive Diplomacy or Pre-Conflict Peace-Building, as outlined by Boutros-Boutros Ghali, offers a blueprint for averting violent conflicts. This approach emphasizes early warning systems, intelligence gathering, fact-finding, improved police and judicial systems, monitoring human rights, electoral reforms, demilitarization, small arms control, institutional reforms, socio-economic development, and peace education.
Peace education and advocacy play a crucial role in changing attitudes and behavior, fostering cooperation, and enabling peaceful problem-solving among all Nigerians. Such initiatives should span multiple themes and regions, with a focus on improving institutional capacity, media and information flow, youth identity and security, and generating public awareness about the actual and potential causes of violent conflicts.
Recognizing that violent conflicts cannot be wished away, Nigeria must prioritize conflict prevention. The preventable consequences of such conflicts, including loss of lives, property destruction, displacement, disease, violent crime, animosities, trauma, poverty, and underdevelopment, underscore the importance of adopting a preventive peace-building mechanism.
Although no exclusive solution exists to the problems of war, prevention remains the most effective cure for this malignant cancer. Nigeria must continue to develop its potential to respond to conflict and promote lasting peace. Let us work together to pave the way for a peaceful and prosperous Nigeria. God save Nigeria.
Founder/Executive Director, CPPBI