BURNING POT BY DR. PRINCE CHARLES DICKSON

 

GPPAC Nigeria: Fostering Conflict Prevention

pcdbooks@yahoo.com

 

Allow me to commence this piece, or rather, this admonition, with a tale.

 

A man was suspecting his wife of infidelity, so he decided to go to his village and consult a juju man. The juju man told him to come back in two weeks bringing along some sample of sand from his yard.

 

So, the man went back after two weeks with the sample of sand.

 

The juju man threw several cowries on the floor, chanted and performed his rituals and said to the man..."I don't know if you can handle hearing this. The man said go ahead. I want to hear it.

 

The juju man said the two boys you have are not your sons, your daughter is seeing five different men and your wife is pregnant for your younger brother."

 

The man started laughing. The juju man asked him why he was laughing, after all these bad news.

 

The man responded; I don't know if you can handle this. The juju man said go ahead. The man said, I was running late and I forgot to bring the sand sample from my yard, so I dug out some from your compound.

 

BABALAWO SHOUTED!

 

With this anecdote in mind, I will now provide a succinct overview of Niger Republic. Niger, an extensive and arid state bordering the Sahara Desert, has experienced a series of coups and political upheavals since gaining independence from France in 1960. The country's struggles encompass recurring droughts and pervasive poverty. In its pursuit of economic modernization, Niger places its hopes on expanding oil exploration, gold mining, and its substantial uranium production.

 

An important milestone occurred in April 2021 when Mohamed Bazoum assumed the presidency, marking Niger's first democratic transfer of power since independence. Regrettably, this progress was cut short by an army-led coup in July 2023, leading to his removal.

 

Western nations regarded Niger as a bastion against escalating disorder and the expanding influence of Russia in the region. The country hosted French and US military bases and was deemed a crucial partner in countering Islamist insurgencies before the coup. Nevertheless, the new junta announced the termination of military cooperation agreements with France and the cancellation of agreements involving the presence of French troops.

 

The incident in Niger on July 26, the seventh coup within West Africa in the past three years, rapidly evolved into a challenge for Western interests. Parallels with developments in Mali and Burkina Faso underscore the intricate dilemma of balancing the West's unyielding security and geopolitical priorities with its commitment to democratic principles across diverse African regions.

 

The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) West Africa plays an influential role in this scenario. The Nigeria President heads ECOWAS, and while the first steps toward a war have been enunciated, it remains a war under the guise of sanctions that have already commenced. At the core of peacebuilding lies dialogue, mediation, and, on the international stage, diplomacy.

 

The inauguration of the GPPAC Nigeria Network, a pivotal step towards promoting peace and preventing conflicts, took place recently. With 22 initial members, the network will collaboratively engage in conflict prevention and peacebuilding across Nigerian communities.

 

During the inaugural meeting held in Abuja, Mr. Rafiu-Adeniran Lawal, the Regional Representative of GPPAC West Africa, emphasized the network's commitment to decentralization and local ownership. GPPAC envisions a world where violence and armed conflicts are averted and resolved through peaceful means, prioritizing justice, gender equity, sustainable development, and human security for all.

 

The event's theme, "Role of Civil Society in Fostering Peace and Security and Social Cohesion," was timely, aiming to address the plethora of peace and security threats in Nigeria. The meeting brought together representatives from civil society organizations (CSOs), government officials, and international stakeholders to discuss the vital role of CSOs in preventing conflicts and fostering peace.

 

GPPAC's focus extends to building national and regional capacity for prevention by enhancing the capabilities of its regional networks and global mechanisms to take collective actions against violent conflicts. By mobilizing early response actions based on early warning information, GPPAC aims to intervene effectively in impending crises and urge governments and international organizations to respond promptly to regional requests.

 

The GPPAC Nigeria Network is founded on three key priority areas: Locally Led Peacebuilding, Women and Youth Peace and Security, and a Conflict-Sensitive Approach to Climate-Related Risks and Other Emerging Threats. These priorities will guide the network's approach and agenda in addressing peace and security challenges in the region.

 

A standout moment in the meeting was the keynote address by Professor Charles Ukeje from Obafemi Awolowo University. Prof. Ukeje highlighted the value of CSOs as early warning providers and intermediaries between states and society. He called on governments to view CSOs as partners in progress, stressing the importance of collaboration and building bridges between CSOs and the government.

 

Dr. Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, commended GPPAC for its initiative. He acknowledged the devastating impact of armed conflicts, causing hunger, health challenges, displacement, destitution, and underdevelopment, particularly in Nigeria's North East.

 

The inaugural meeting concluded with 21 partner organizations identifying innovative methods and approaches to foster peace within Nigerian communities, with The Tattaaunawa Roundtable Initiative as focal national office, aspires to work together with a shared ambition of eradicating violence and insecurity in Nigeria, ultimately fostering a more peaceful and secure society.

 

The inauguration of the GPPAC Nigeria Network represents a pivotal stride toward nurturing peace, inclusion, and collaboration in the West African context. By rallying CSOs and cultivating cooperation with governments and international partners, GPPAC aims to make substantial contributions to preventing conflicts and building peace in Nigeria and the broader region.

 

In closing, the establishment of the GPPAC Nigeria Network stands as a testament to the potency of collective action and the determination to construct a safer, more peaceful world. The spirit of collaboration and the pursuit of shared objectives, embodied by GPPAC, ignite hope for a future where conflicts are forestalled through dialogue, understanding, and sustainable development. As GPPAC West Africa, indeed GPPAC Nigeria and sister nations assume leadership in fostering peace and inclusion, it conveys a potent message: together, we can surmount challenges and forge a more unified and prosperous West AfricaŚMay Nigeria win!