The Army Chief of Standards advocates renaming the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs
Major General James Ataguba, Chief of Standards and Evaluation of the Nigerian Army, has advised the federal government to consider renaming the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs to the Ministry of Peacebuilding and Humanitarian Affairs.
Ataguba gave the advice on Friday at the second edition of the Aare Afe Babalola Distinguished Lecture Series held at Afe Babalola University (ABUAD) Ado Ekiti, Ekiti.
Atagua spoke about: âCreating Peace Together in Nigeria: Dynamics, Perspectives, Challenges and Solutions.
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He said renaming the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs to the Ministry of Peacebuilding and Humanitarian Affairs would strengthen the fight against insecurity.
According to him, the federal government must formulate a convincing peace policy that is able to effectively cope with various security challenges in the country.
âThe Federal Government of Nigeria should rename the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs to the Ministry of Peacebuilding and Humanitarian Affairs.
âIn the same way, the federal and state governments should make the peacebuilding initiative a bottom-top approach.
âThe Christian Association of Nigeria and the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs of Nigeria should align their respective religious leaders with the need to accept the teachings of forgiveness, reconciliation and acceptance.
âTraditional rulers should also strive to use communal dialogue as a strategy to complement various governmental peace-building efforts to facilitate harmonious coexistence.
“All peacebuilding stakeholders should develop capacities for full integration into government peacebuilding initiatives,” he said.
Atagua said the various conflicts the country is facing required not just government officials but all known interest groups.
âIt is not news in our country that some of the government’s strategies for managing conflict and building peace have shown results, even though the threat remains in our society.
âNevertheless, the government continues to develop various peacemaking strategies that promote sustainable development. However, if we pool our strategies and resources, we will be able to achieve peaceful coexistence.
âThere is no doubt that the government has done its best to create an architecture to ensure peacebuilding and promote national cohesion.
âNevertheless, while the dynamics of uncertainty in the 21st
âHistory is replete with situations where governments use various elements of national power, including the military, to keep their territories and citizens safe.
“Recently, internal conflicts in some African countries have required the use of military operations to overcome security challenges and ensure peaceful coexistence.”
The chief said Nigeria faces several security challenges, notably banditry, ransom kidnappings, insurgents, secessionist movements and ethno-religious agitation.
In his opinion, managing these conflicts is a challenge for both security agencies and stakeholders.
Atagua said the need for peacebuilding in Nigeria could be understood from the amazing revelation of Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, the Sultan of Sokoto, when giving a lecture at Harvard University in the United States
“The Sultan said,” Many people see Nigeria as the scene of absurd conflicts and endless crises, with the Jos crisis that has been festering for years, post-election violence and suicide bombings; it’s hard to think otherwise.
“When we consider Nigeria’s 150 million people, half of West Africa’s population, its 250+ ethnic and linguistic groups, its regional and geopolitical configurations, its land mass, and its diversity in religion and culture, we might be forced to draw a different conclusion.”
Atagua noted that under this claim by the Sultan, whom he viewed as one of the most respected traditional rulers in Nigeria, the country had no choice but to constantly seek peace-building to protect its fragility and prevent constant conflict from escalating that pervade the nation.
“Despite numerous efforts by the government, including the creation of various peacebuilding bodies at both federal and state levels,
âNigeria as a nation continued to have its fair share of challenges to peace as the nation continued to face various conflict situations resulting from the inappropriately amalgamation of multi-ethnic groups.
âThe country comprises over 250 multicultural ethnic entities, the result of which is the plaguing socio-political, economic, religious, ethnic and communal conflicts that continue to plague the nation and its people.
“Ethnicity, for example, has further undermined the political development of the nation and has also cost the nation its economic development,” he said.
âPeace as a social contract is active and not passive. It arises through negotiation, adjustment, dissolution, and decisions. It includes predictions and expectations about the future.
“It manifests through cooperative interaction and its existence depends on congruence with the balance of power,” he said.
Atagua said that while peacebuilding is not intended or an attempt to eliminate conflict from society, it is about creating an environment for negotiation, reconciliation, mutual understanding and compromise that enables conflict issues to be resolved before they turn into violence and compromise Conflicts degenerate.
He recalled that an estimated 3,000 people were killed in clashes between farmers and shepherds in 2018.
According to him, these clashes also resulted in the displacement of at least 62,000 people, most of them women and children, with the states of Kaduna, Benue and Plateau being hardest hit.
âAs a result of these humanitarian costs, the country is losing an estimated 13.7 billion US dollars annually, while the affected states have lost 47 percent of their internally generated income as a result of these conflicts.
“This is a situation that, given its present scale and likely future effects, requires urgent attention,” he said
Chief Afe Babalola, founder of ABUAD and legal icon, praised General Ataguba, saying he never doubted his erudition and thinking skills.
Previously, the acting Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Samaranda Oyerinde, announced in a welcoming speech that the lecture series had started last year in honor of Babalola.
He said the election of General Ataguba was deliberate, based on his recognized brilliance and track record.