Established in the fall of 2018, the Nigeria Middle Belt Brain Trust (MBBT) brings together leading local specialists in areas such as inter-religious dialogue, mediation, community development, and justice reform. Using a customised conflict prevention framework, the group focuses on key medium-term structural and institutional challenges that have an outsized impact on the region’s violence and future prospects of peace and prosperity.

The MBBT brings together experts from the Middle Belt’s eastern half (the group’s initial focus area) including Nasarawa, Benue, Plateau, Taraba, and southern Kaduna states. Leveraging its deep understanding of the local context and access to international best practices, the MBBT aims to combine top-down and bottom-up approaches that simultaneously address the region’s challenges from multiple directions, including attention to strengthening inter-community grievance management systems, reducing polarization and boosting youth entrepreneurship. 

The MBBT’s early focus has been on Nasarawa State. Using documentary evidence and on-the-ground interviews with community members affected by the state’s most important conflicts, the group has mapped the intricate forces affecting its stability and developed concrete proposals to address them.

MBBT Strategic Report

Ending Violence in Nigeria's Middle Belt: A Strategic Report on Nasarawa State (June 2022)

This report analyses the drivers of violence in Nigeria’s Nasarawa State in order to understand the broader dynamics of conflict across the country’s Middle Belt region. Based on an exploration of documentary evidence and interviews with community members affected by conflict, it highlights the complexity of reducing violence and the importance of action in multiple areas simultaneously, while recognising the geographic variations in conflict drivers, actors, and dynamics. The report concludes with practical recommendations for Nasarawa’s leaders to act upon.


Recent Commentary


How Women Can Champion Peace In Nasarawa (December 2022)

While women in Nasarawa suffer disproportionately from the ongoing violence in their state, they are typically left out of conflict resolution processes. In this opinion piece, Aisha Rufai’ Ibrahim, member of IFIT’s Middle Belt Brain Trust, argues that women should be systematically included in community security architecture and empowered to contribute to dispute resolution mechanisms. Building capacity; encouraging representation in social and economic groups; and harnessing women’s influence within the domestic, education and religious spheres, can all help realise women’s potential to mediate peace.


Ending Violent Conflicts In Taraba: A Paradigm Shift (December 2022)

This op-ed argues that a new and coordinated approach is required if violence is to be reduced in Nigeria’s volatile Taraba state. Nzikachia Bami-Yuno, a member of IFIT’s Middle Belt Brain Trust, outlines the case for the harmonisation of federal and state policies combined with increased involvement of local citizens. Specifically, he calls for institutional strengthening, the introduction of an alternative dispute resolution mechanism, greater youth engagement, and enhanced community-level security architecture.


Traditional Leaders and Quest for Peace, Security in the Middle Belt (May 2022)

As violence in Nigeria's Middle Belt continues to increase, Joseph Atang, a member of IFIT's MBBT, argues that the region's governments should support traditional institutions to play a greater role in resolving civil conflicts. If assigned a constitutional role, made members of the State Security Council, and provided with support to monitor conflict and early crisis warning signs, traditional institutions could more effectively manage disputes at the community level, preventing escalation into deeper violence.


Social Entrepreneurship: Road To Addressing Youth Restiveness In Nasarawa State (March 2022)

This op-ed argues that with the deepening social and economic crisis in Nigeria, there is a need to rethink strategies for addressing youth restiveness in the country. Mike Kwanashie, a member of IFIT's Middle Belt Brain Trust, suggests that this requires a paradigm shift that focuses on identifying, cultivating and empowering youth and community entrepreneurs.


Time To Build A New Security Architecture In Nasarawa State (July 2021)

This op-ed argues that a new security architecture is needed in Nigeria's Nasarawa State in response to rising levels of violence. Chom Bagu, a member of IFIT's Nigeria Middle Belt Brain Trust, posits that future approaches will only succeed if federal government, state, and community actors work in synergy and if all elements of the community are considered in the development and implementation of the mechanisms meant to protect them.