Diplomacy as Alternative to War: the Zamfara Story, By Moses Oluwaseyi

NEWS DIGEST – The Preamble to the Constitution of United Nation Economic Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) declared that “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.” Therefore it is not a futile saying that physical military war fare is not a solution to guerrilla war in Zamfara; this is very evidence from the over 16 years of Boko Haram war without a complete result of success recorded.

Similarly during the recent World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa, President Muhamadu Buhari reiterated the fact that lack of social and economic inclusion is the main reason why Nigeria as a country and Africa as a continent arrived at this level of economic and social quagmire. The case of Nigeria is no doubt peculiar as the nation continues to battle ways to solve its internal and external conflicts. The Zamfara state situation of what the media has described as banditry even though what is being experienced is beyond the word, has become a nightmare.

Despite the over 19 years of democracy in Nigeria, it is very clear that the presence of governance is minimal or absent from citizens at all level. This has therefore led to distrust, increase in violence extremism which has destroyed Nigeria’s social fabric. Worthy to note is the reoccurrence of civil criminal activities in resource area. The Niger-Delta region was not void of kidnappings and killings in the last 14 years as it is prevalent in Zamfara today. The absence of synergy between security agencies as well as the drive for supremacy is a leading factor to several failures of the security interventions on bandits.

Another major loophole was also captured by the President when he said that, “in this digital age where physical borders no longer exist to protect even the most secured nations, the only way to overcome predatory and divisionary forces is for all well-meaning nations to work together for the greater good of mankind”. This perhaps explains the aforementioned statement on security synergy. Cooperation amongst security agencies is no longer a choice it is an absolute necessity.

Therefore, It is imperative for the newly elected government to be very visible in every part of Zamfara delivering dividends of democracy to citizens so as to eradicate citizens perspective of being reduced to paupers in a land flowing with milk and honey. The assets and endowments in Zamfara should lead to high level of economic growth rather than becoming a resource curse.

Full military engagement is usually not void of violations of fundamental human rights, collateral damage on innocent citizens mostly on women and children who are most vulnerable therefore; intelligence gathering should be affianced by security agencies before any usage of military attacks.

Building trust in citizens by ensuring their voices are heard by providing basic amenities such as good water, accessible health system, power amongst others will help eradicate negative belief system that the government does not put them to heart. Civil engagement to provide a win-win approach is very important in other to have a sustainable solution on the issues of bandits in Zamfara state.

Moses Oluwaseyi
Program Officer YIAGA AFRICA