CSO highlights need to intensify conflict mitigation in Nigeria

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Mr Benson Olugbuo, Country Director, Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC), has called on the Federal Government and relevant stakeholders to intensify efforts at mitigating conflict in Nigeria.

Olugbuo made this known on Wednesday during a project close-out webinar on “Advancing the Protection of Civilians and Stabilisation of North-East Nigeria Project.”

The project is funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by CIVIC, a Civil Society Organisation (CSO).

The country director, while stating that CIVIC had contributed its quota over the years to conflict mitigation, said such was necessary to engender peace in the country.

He said: “The peculiarity of Nigeria is such that there is conflict in virtually every part of the country.

“The challenge is that we as CIVIC cannot be in all the 36 states.

“However, we collaborate with other agencies like the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and also train military and security institutions.”

The country director said that, while the primary responsibility of protecting civilians from harm was not that of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) but government, CSOs would continue to support government in achieving that.

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“We are not government and we can never be government. So what we do at CIVIC is to remind the government of their responsibility.

“We make sure we remind the government of meeting her primary responsibilities and obligation to protect lives and properties,” Olugbuo said.

The European Union Representative, Mr Francesco Carboni, said it was important to protect civilians while ensuring their security.

He commended CIVIC and other partners, adding that the role of CSOs remained one of EU’s focus when it comes to peace building.

According to him, people should be able to determine their destiny, power and voice, saying “that is what we believe in quite a lot and it reflects in our approach.

“I am familiar with CIVIC because they do have multi- country projects in East Africa for instance Somalia, Kenya and Uganda.

“So, I will find the chance to discuss with CIVIC to get the methodology, knowledge and all the expertise that CIVIC can provide.

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“The overall appreciation of the European Union on this project is positive in terms of advocacy and technical assistance.

“There is a lot that reflect what our hope is for the project, and so, I am curious to know the lessons learnt, success stories as well as deficiencies of the project, to know whether or not to improve,”he said.

CIVIC’s Project Manager Saratu Pindar said that the CSO had resolved 100 out of 135 concerns through the project, adding that part of the resolution included returnees who had no access to accommodation.

Pindar said that with the collaboration of the 7 Division of the Nigerian Army, several other milestones had been achieved.

This, she said, included establishment of 17 dialogue platforms, enhancement of civilian protection as well as training of 374 civilian vigilantes among others.

The CIVIC Team Lead, Mr Mujidand Sitdang, said that strengthened civilian protection and improvement in civil-military relations through dialogue platforms had facilitated dialogue to encourage security agencies collaboration.

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Sitdang stressed the need to look for renewed funding, adding that there would be opportunity to continue to engage in the discourse.

Mr Julius Gaiya, Communications and Programmes Manager, CIVIC, expressed satisfaction that the programme had made so much impact.

He said that “When we started Phase I and II, it was to provide an avenue to sustain training among security institutions.”

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