UN Urges Nigeria to Explore Political Solution to Insurgency, Banditry

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•Says military action, dialogue should go together
•Buhari excited as global agency lauds administration’s strides

Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

The United Nations (UN) yesterday called on the federal government to combine dialogue with the deployment of force to combat insecurity in Nigeria.
It described Nigeria’s security crisis as complicated as banditry in the North-west is combined with terrorism and asked the federal government to also explore a political solution in fighting insurgency and banditry.

Briefing State House reporters after leading a UN team to a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallon, said in view of the complexity of security conflicts in Nigeria, the team believed the country needed a multi-pronged approach in resolving the crisis.
He classified the security crisis bedevilling the country into three; comprising identity-based conflict, resource-based conflict and power-based conflict.

He said each of the three required different approaches and solutions to tackle.
He added that the attempt to find the solution to banditry in Nigeria, for instance, is complicated as a result of its combination with terrorism.
According to him, the solution to this range of security crisis is difficult to decipher because each has to be separately dealt with.

He stated that solutions to the crisis must be pursued from the political, economic and social perspectives, adding that the relationship among the three factors must be established in the efforts to address issues of criminality, banditry and terrorism in Nigeria.

He said: “So, the conflict is still ongoing. It’s not over. But today again, I told Mr. President that in addition to the military effort, that there is a need to complement that with enhanced dialogue and political approach process in search of a durable solution to the crisis.
“So, we think various approaches have to be used to find a solution. But when you talk about conflicts in Nigeria, we are talking about three typologies.

“There is no one-size-fits-all. You have identity-based conflict, resource-based and power-based conflict. Each of those typologies requires different approaches and solutions. That is the complex axis we are dealing with.
“In the North-west, you have the situation of banditry that is mixed up with some elements of terrorism, which makes it even more complex. And there is also power based-conflict that is ongoing. So, because of the mixture of these typologies within Nigeria itself, that is why it is so difficult to find solutions to them because you have to deal with each of them.

“But underneath all these beehives of conflict dynamics, there are three dynamics that should be examined before a solution is found; we must look at the political, economy and social context that are so critical in finding a solution. The relationship between those three factors remains extremely important when you start looking at the issue of criminality, banditry and terrorism. So, my call to His Excellency is to look at that robust mechanisms as a way of trying to find solutions to the conflicts in general.”

Kallon also spoke on humanitarian crisis in the North-east, saying that at the beginning of the insurgency in the region, it was impossible to gain access to the internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps.
He said even though the situation had improved, it was still cumbersome because IDPs “are still kept in garrison type of camps.”

He added that victims of insurgency in the North-east have been unable to return to their homes to continue with their livelihoods and advised the president to make the search for peace in the region his major commitment.
The UN representative added that in the efforts to achieve peace-building in the region that will bring lasting reliefs to displaced 1.2 million persons as well as 293,000 refugees in Niger, Chad and Cameroon, a framework to find a solution to the crisis in North-east must be deliberately created.

Kallon said: “I have been part of this endeavour for three-and-a-half years, from the time we had no access to the affected population, to the point where we had access to the affected population who are currently in IDP camps, and that is due to the gradual improvement of security that was possible.

“Most of you could remember at the beginning of this crisis – there was no access to the affected population because of insecurity. That element has improved over the years. Yet still, the situation is still extremely difficult in the sense that the population are still kept in garrison type of camps. People are not able to go back to undertake their normal activities to rebuild their lives and livelihood. There are periodic attacks on them by non-state armed groups.

“So, it is quite a difficult situation at this point in time. As a result of that, we are very clear on, and I told this to Mr. President, that there are no humanitarian solutions to humanitarian problems and that the only solution to the North-east is peace. The only thing we can do is to ensure that in whatever we do, we prioritise prevention. We support development in areas feasible and we provide humanitarian assistance when needed.

“In our jargons, we say we have to bridge the humanitarian development of peace-building as a framework to find a solution to the crisis in North-east Nigeria. The affected people, especially the 1.2 million IDPs and over 293,000 refugees in Niger, Chad and Cameroon must be supported in every way.”

Kallon explained that even though the UN is not a financial institution, it has invested about $1.5 billion to support Nigeria’s humanitarian crisis as well as its developmental efforts.
He described the main concerns of the UN as technical assistance, policy and advisory services as well as strengthening of institutional capacity, among others.

“The strength of the UN system is technical assistance, policy and advisory services, strengthening of institutional capacity to deliver basic social services with global best practices, data advisory services and convening role,” he explained.

Kallon commended the federal government for its swift response to the outbreak of COVID-19 by setting up the Presidential Task Force (PTF) and commended Nigeria for lending its “voice in the global call for a people’s vaccine for Coronavirus, so that it does not become a vaccine for the rich and powerful alone, but for all humanity.”

Responding to a question on how Nigeria could sustain its polio-free status, a member of the team, Mr. Peter Hawkins, urged the country to sustain immunisation and ensure constant vaccination.
On the UN’s impression about the fight against corruption in Nigeria, Kallon said the team commended Buhari “for his resolve to reform and return discipline in the public service as well as the success in fighting corruption, including the convictions and recovery of assets.”

He added that they told Buhari that as he continues to “strengthen institutions to fight corruption, we now also need to increase our support for grassroots and ‘people-centered’ approach and get all members of the community involved and engaged.”

However, a statement by a presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, later, said Buhari welcomed the UN commendations on efforts to restore security, strengthen institutions against corruption, improve health facilities and rebuild the multilateral institution’s office attacked by terrorists in 2011.

Buhari told the UN team that the reconstruction of UN building by the federal government was in appreciation of the work of the international organisation, describing the attack by terrorists on the building as regrettable.
“Thank you for what you have been doing in the country, especially for women and children. I am glad you have put together a dedicated team to work with us,’’ Buhari said.

The president also commended the various programmes of the UN in Nigeria.
“I am very impressed with the number of programmes you are carrying out and I hope that our ministers will continue to cooperate with you,’’ he stated.

On the reconstruction of the UN Building and Boko Haram bombing incident, Buhari said: “I assure you that beyond the renovation of your headquarters after that incident, we will continue to make your job feasible and comfortable. If you need anything in the course of your assignments talk to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama.’’

Shehu said Kallon, in his remarks, praised the administration of Buhari for the rebuilding and modernisation of the UN House in Nigeria, describing it as a commendable support to multilateralism.