Of Peace, Conflict Resolution & National Cohesion – Chris Mustapha Nwaokobia Jnr

“My Son, we are better together than separate. What we need is the will to make right our union, and Statesmen whose motivation is to bequeath a fair Country to posterity” – Elder Chris Nwaokobia Snr (1939-2003).

Every so often serious issues of state dominate the intellectual sphere as well as the regular space, I find a unanimous call for peace, a concord that belies the anger in the land, a concord that belies the ethnic bend of leaders and the led, a concord that belies our regional and religious bigotry, and sadly a concord that fails to interrogate the reason there are internecine conflicts across the land.

Crises and conflicts are naught but natural occurrences that test our candour, our civility, our composure and our maturity. They are oftentimes man-made, they are products of our actions or inactions, and they are problems that a willing people can attempt and solve.

I write to stimulate a new thinking. I write to remind you my Compatriots that if nations have triumphed over racism, over apartheid, and over troubling dichotomies of Colour, WE CAN. I write to inform you my Countrymen and women that at some point in this union every Tribe, Creed or Clan has hurt each other, and have also at different times benefited from each other. I write to inspire the emergence of patriots and Statesmen who are willing to build a nation where Justice and Equity is prime. And I write because I agree with my father, that we are better together than separate.

May our debates interrogate the reason we are where we are, and may our drive prefer the highway of Peace, of Justice, of Equity, of Love and Patriotism over partisanship. To the Bridge, Dear Friends.

Chris Mustapha Nwaokobia Jnr

Aid Reaches Besieged Syrian Towns Amid Conflict

Aid has been delivered to four besieged towns in Syria for the first time in almost six months, the International Committee of the Red Cross says.

Seventy-one lorries reached rebel-held Madaya and Zabadani, near Damascus, and government-controlled Foah and Kefraya, in Idlib province, on Sunday.

They brought food, medical supplies and hygiene kits for 60,000 people.

Last week, the UN suspended aid deliveries across Syria for 48 hours after a deadly attack on a convoy.

The US and Russia, which support opposing sides in the country’s five-year civil war, have blamed each other for the incident.

It came as a week-old truce brokered by the two powers collapsed and the government’s bombardment of rebel-held areas of Aleppo resumed.

A monitoring group said dozens of air strikes hit the northern city and its surrounding countryside overnight, killing and wounding a number of people.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has documented the deaths of 237 people, including 38 children, in Aleppo since last Monday, when the truce ended.

Read More: BBC

Farmer, Herdsmen Conflict: Senate To Find Lasting Solution– Saraki

Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki has appealed to herdsmen and farmers across the country to maintain peace as the National Assembly is ready to proffer lasting solution to the perennial clashes between farmers and herdsmen over grazing land.

Speaking yesterday when a group of herdsmen from Kautal Hore Socio-Cultural Association Jigawa State branch visited him, the Senate President who described the perennial clashes between the farmers and herdsmen as unfortunate, also appealed to the herdsmen to maintain peace at all times.

According to Saraki, “The National Assembly and all the stakeholders have been meeting on how to ensure that there is permanent peace between the two major groups in the nation’s agricultural system”.

He expressed concern over the frequent clashes, explaining that Nigeria is not the only country where farmers and herdsmen co-exist.

“There must be peace. There must be peaceful coexistence and there cannot be peace when human lives are being wasted. The National Assembly will stop at nothing to ensure that there is peace. We will not stop working until there is peace between the farmers and herdsmen in this country. Please be patient”, Saraki said while promising that the Senate will soon come out with suggestions  on how to end the conflict.

Earlier, chairman of the group, Umar Kabir Hadejia in his speech titled, “Appeal for an intervention” said the Fulanis are traditionally a nomadic pastoral people who rear their cattle and sheep across the vast territory of Nigeria as the largest nomadic group in the world.

He lamented that due to urbanisation, there has been increasing conflict between farmers and the pastoralists largely due to the Fulanis seeking fertile grazing lands for their developmental purposes.

Credit:  Leadership

Boko Haram Conflict Deadline ‘Unrealistic’, CCC To Buhari

Senior military, security and intelligence figures in Nigeria on Thursday questioned President Muhammadu Buhari’s December deadline for an end to the Boko Haram conflict, calling it “unrealistic”.

The Centre for Crisis Communication, a research and advisory body independent of government, said the deadline was “not tenable” given the continued wave of bombings in the northeast.

The CCC executive secretary, retired Air Commodore Yusuf Anas, told reporters in Abuja there was a real concern about Boko Haram’s persistent targeting of civilian “soft targets”.

Anas said he was not against imposing targets on the military but added: “It must also be stated that this target date might be unrealistic.

“This submission is predicated on the fact that asymmetric warfare which Boko Haram is prosecuting against Nigeria is not such that can be easily stamped out by the armed forces.”

Credit: AFP

Patience Jonathan Fuelled My Conflict With President, PDP- Amaechi

The Rivers State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, on Sunday said his disagreement with President Goodluck Jonathan was fueled in part by the President’s wife, Dame Patience Jonathan.

He said this after the premiere of a documentary on Amaechi years at the Silver Bird Galleria, Abuja.

According to him, the President and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party would have taken him to the cleaners, if they had anything incriminating against him.

Amaechi said, “We had a disagreement in principle between me and the President. Have you seen a country where the Commissioner of Police is reporting to the wife of the President? It’s in Rivers State.

“Have you seen a country where the Brigade Commander or the Navy Commander or Air Force Commander is reporting to the wife of the President? It’s in Rivers State.”

He explained that he was convinced that such conduct would not help in the development of any nation, saying he took a stand against it.

Amaechi stressed that Nigeria must never again go back to such dark days, stressing that public officers should learn to lead by the rule so as to avoid abuse of office by their spouses.

He pointed out that it was the husband of Mrs. Jonathan, who was elected.

The governor revealed that in his own case, he ensured that his wife knew her limits and he always told her she had no right to call any of his commissioners for anything, because the people voted him into office as governor, not her.

Amaechi challenged anyone, who had doubts about his performance in office, to go to Rivers State and see for himself or herself.

He also said all he did in the state were not for self-glorification but to bequeath a legacy for successive administrations in the state to sustain.

The governor added that 90 per cent of the people, who worked with him, betrayed him.

He further showcased his achievements, spanning all sectors of the state, wondering why the Federal Government was desperate about casting his administration in bad light even when he spent N105bn doing federal roads.

Amaechi pointed out that he kept a proper account of his stewardship and the books were open for all to see.

This, he said, gave him the courage to sustain the struggle, expressing joy that history would vindicate him in the end.

In the documentary, which featured some of his projects in the areas of security, works, agriculture, works, education, transportation, health and social development, Amaechi said the documentary left out some projects he would love to see documented.

 Senator Magnus Abbe, who also featured in the documentary, explained how Amaechi pioneered the amnesty programmes through which unparalleled  insecurity in the state was drastically reduced.


I Made A Choice To Keep The Country Away From Conflict- Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan has again called on the global community and Nigerians to support the incoming government of President-elect Muhammadu Buhari.

He spoke at the Presidential Villa while receiving members of the African Ambassadors Group, who were on a farewell and solidarity visit to him.

According to President Jonathan, the incoming government will need the cooperation and commitment of the global community and Nigerians to effectively deliver on its promises to the people.

He noted:“The President-elect is not new to governance in Africa so I want you to show the same commitment to him as you have shown to me. The President-elect knows that our commitment is always to project Africa. I am urging you to extend the same warmth and solidarity you have shown to me to him.”

President Jonathan further enjoined African leaders to encourage trade within the continent by building infrastructures and institutions that promote trade and relationships.

The President recalled working extensively for more than five years with other African Presidents to manage crisis in some African countries, especially in the West African sub-region, and also leading peace efforts in some of the countries like Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Guinea Bissau.

He said: “I have been involved in solving many problems in African countries for more than five years and I know the enormity and cost of conflicts, especially on the citizenry. We cannot afford that in Nigeria.

“If we were to have a political conflict in Nigeria, I am not sure the sub-region will be able to accommodate our citizens. My commitment is to always put the country before my personal ambition and that is what I have demonstrated.”

President Jonathan, who said he would always be committed to strengthening democracy in Nigeria and Africa, noted that his decision to concede victory was to show example to the world that democracy can survive and thrive in Africa without conflicts.

“I believe that character matters in leadership. And it is not just about who becomes the president of a country, but somebody has to be there and the person needs the support of all to succeed. I made a choice to keep the country away from conflict.

“I have always advised other African leaders that we will need to have a country before we can have the ambition to become presidents. We don’t have to expose our people to deaths because we want to stay in power. Some people hold on to power, may be, for fear of the unknown,” the President added.


Farmers-Herdsmen Conflict: The Jigawa Solution

Farmers-herdsmen clashes are among the most serious security challenges facing Nigeria today, especially the northern part of the county. Tussle for the use of agricultural land is becoming intense and more prevalent. It is the most predominant resource-use conflict in Nigeria. Clashes between farmers and herdsmen over land are as old as trade in Nigeria.
Reports of bloody clashes between farmers and herdsmen have become a recurrent problem that most Nigerians are concerned about, because its ripples affect everyone in the country. Apart from being a major cause of food shortages and food price increase, thousands of lives are frequently lost; many farmlands and cattle are lost as a result of these clashes.
The Governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido has provided a permanent, feasible and win-win solution.  In most parts of Jigawa state, the government has established grazing reserves and water pumping windmills for herdsmen to freely nosh their herds. The grazing land is also watered frequently by the water pumping windmills for grasses to grow even during dry seasons. On the other hand, the farmers are provided with large expanse of farmland to cultivate crops. One beautiful thing about some of the farmlands is that they have dual function- they have on them facilities for dry season farming.
Water pumping windmills, cattle routes, demarcated grazing reserves and farm land are not new in Nigeria, but this writer was amazed with the stretch of the windmills, grazing reserves and farmlands. Definitely, Governor Sule Lamido must have used the physics theory of ‘series connection’. Throughout Jigawa state, water pumping windmills, cattle routes, demarcated grazing reserves and farmlands are established at strategic and well-thought locations.
Apart from promoting co-existence and harmony between farmers and herdsmen, instead of the usual conflict, a major benefit of this Governor Lamido’s initiative is that it has enhanced local community security, safety and development. Furthermore, another beautiful result of the project is, most of the herdsmen do not unnecessarily wander around in search of pasture and water because the windmills provide drinking water for their own use as well as for large cattle stocks. The multi-bladed wind pumps constantly pump water which continually irrigates the large area of the land on which lush grasses grow even during dry seasons. And finally, the herdsmen feel ownership of the land.
Farmers-herdsmen clashes in Nigeria are a problem affecting the entire Nigerian society. However, Governor Lamido has brought a new dimension to solving the problem. Therefore states and the federal governments should model this beautiful solution. Modeling this solution will be very easy because water pumping windmills are economical and environmentally friendly and Nigeria has demarcated grazing reserves, marked cattle routes and large farming areas.
Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, zaymohd@yahoo.com