Category: Nigeria

On September 5-6, 2022, the IFIT Middle Belt Brain Trust (MBBT) held a two-day capacity-building training on community grievance management for all the First Class Chiefs of Nasarawa State. The training, which took place at the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs in Lafia and was organised in collaboration with the Government of Nasarawa State, is part of the MBBT’s wider work to improve grievance management capacities at the community level in the Middle Belt region.

At the training, State Governor Engr Abdullahi Sule stated that the initiative helped promote a culture of peace and harmonious coexistence not only in the Middle Belt, but in the country at large. MBBT Chairman, General Martin Luther-Agwai (rtd.), said that security challenges in the Middle Belt were enormous but with sustained determination and hard work, peace and security would be achieved. He stressed that the failure of existing institutions to manage grievances had become a major conflict driver, as most community-level conflicts that start out as civil disputes escalated to violence and identity conflicts.

The MBBT’s training on alternative dispute resolution mechanisms for traditional leaders (such as ward heads, village heads, and district heads) aims to make grievance management and timely resolution of disputes accessible to disadvantaged, illiterate, rural and dispersed populations, thereby helping to prevent civil disputes from becoming identity conflicts. This effort also aims to increase civic engagement and foster public processes that over time can facilitate broader social and structural change.

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On Monday September 5, 2022, IFIT’s Nigeria Middle Belt Brain Trust co-organised with the Government of Nasarawa State the official launch of its latest publication, Ending Violence in Nigeria’s Middle Belt: A Strategic Report of Nasarawa State.

At the event, the Executive Governor of Nasarawa State, Engr. Abdullahi Sule, stated that the report “offers a comprehensive picture of the intricate forces causing conflict in Nasarawa State” and that it would “no doubt add to [their] efforts to tackle insecurity through a sustained special attention to matters that border on security and active engagement of all stakeholders”. He assured that the government “would study the report with a view to adopting its recommendations for the benefit of [its] people”.

Based on two years of extensive research and on-the-ground interviews with community members affected by the state’s most important conflicts, the report presents an in-depth analysis of the drivers of violence in Nasarawa State to understand broader dynamics of conflict across the Middle Belt of Nigeria and the spectrum of realistic solutions.

On 22nd June 2021, IFIT’s Middle Belt Brain Trust (MBBT) and the Nasarawa State Government co-organised a high-level convening at the Government House Banquet Hall in Lafia. The meeting was attended by key government stakeholders and traditional rulers – including His Excellency the Executive Governor of Nasarawa State, Engr. Abdullahi Sule; and the Emir of Lafia and Chairman of the Nasarawa State Council of Chiefs, Justice Sidi Muhammad Bage I Rtd – as well as civil society organisations.

In a statement at the event,  MBBT Chairman General (Rtd) M.L. Agwai outlined the brain trust’s objectives: promoting social cohesion in Nasarawa State through community participation in decision-making; bridging divisions; and addressing community needs. He also reiterated the MBBT’s commitment to support Nasarawa State’s leadership to develop frameworks for a new security architecture, improve state institutions’ dispute resolution mechanisms, and promote local entrepreneurship. 

Engr. Abdullahi Sule, Governor of Nasarawa State, expressed his appreciation to the MBBT for choosing Nasarawa State to host the inaugural convening.  He commended the MBBT and IFIT for their initiative and announced that his government is working to put in place measures to address the breakdown of law and order, and is open to measures that will promote peace in the state or entrench collective action towards this goal. “This event is in tandem with our collective commitment to bringing lasting solutions to the region’s security challenges, in line with the agenda of President Buhari’s administration,” he said. “Peace and security is a collective responsibility.” 

The Emir of Lafia and Chairman of the Nasarawa State Council of Chiefs said, “the MBBT is composed of the very best Nigeria can produce: they are the best we can gather at this point of our national history and we are lucky to have them.”

Civil society leader, Dr. Nawani Aboki, advocated the need for creative ways to kick-start dialogue and for a partnership between government and communities, while stressing that civil society organisations need to be part of the solution.. 

The Nasarawa State Forum was broadcast on national television.

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