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UN advise Nigeria to adopt new national security strategy that combines military force with dialogue to end terrorism, banditry in Northern regions

The United Nation (UN) on Monday advised the Nigerian government to implement a new national security strategy which compliments military force with dialogue as a way of ensuring the return of security in the country.

The UN assured Nigeria that it is ready to put its deep reservoir of expertise, both in human and material resources, at the disposal of the country in pursuit of the twin goals.

X-raying the nation’s security challenges, the global body tasked the federal government should deploy the tool of dialogue with force in fighting insurgency and banditry as banditry in the Northwest is intermixed with terrorism.

UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, spoke on its activities in Nigeria with journalists after leading a UN delegation for a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Monday. 

The team were on a thank you visit to Buhari over Nigeria’s support to multilateralism and the rehabilitation of the UN House in Abuja after terrorists attacked it in August of 2011. Twenty-one people died in the attack.

Saying that the global body has invested about $1.5 billion annually to support the humanitarian and development efforts of the federal government, Mr Kallon classified the security crises bedeviling the country into three, namely, identity-based conflicts, resource-based conflicts and power-based conflicts, stating that each requires different approaches and solutions to tackle it. 

Noting the complexities of tackling banditry because it is also terrorism, the UN Resident Representative added that solutions to the crisis must be pursued from political, economic and social perspectives as the three factors must be established in the efforts to address issues of criminality, banditry and terrorism in Nigeria.

According to Kallon, “today again, I told Mr. President that in addition to the military effort, that there is need to complement that with enhanced dialogue and political approach process in search of durable solution to the crisis. So, we think various approaches have to be used to find a solution. But when you talk about conflicts in Nigeria, we are talking about three typologies. 

“There is no one size fits all. You have identity-based conflicts, resource-based and power-based conflicts. Each of those typologies require different approaches and solutions. That is the complex axis we are dealing with. In the Northwest, you have the situation of banditry that is mixed up with some elements of terrorism, which makes it even more complex. And there is also power based-conflict that is ongoing. So, because of the mixture of these typologies within Nigeria itself, that is why it is so difficult to find solutions to them, because you have to deal with each of them. 

“But underneath all these beehives of conflicts dynamics, there are three dynamics that before a solution is found, we must look at the political, economy and social context that are so critical in finding a solution. The relationship between those three factors remain extremely important when you start looking at the issue of criminality, banditry and terrorism. So, my call to His Excellency is to look at that robust mechanisms as a way of trying to find solutions to the conflicts in general.”

Kallong also spoke on humanitarian crisis in the Northeast, saying that a framework must be deliberately created to find a solution to the crisis in the region which would bring lasting reliefs to displaced 1.2 million persons as well as 293,000 refugees in Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

“I have been part of this endeavour for three and half years, from the time we had no access to the affected population, to the point where we had access to the affected population who are currently in IDP camps, and that is due to the gradual improvement of security that was possible.

“Most of you could remember at the beginning of this crisis – there was no access to the affected population because of insecurity. That element has improved over the years. Yet still, the situation is still extremely difficult in the sense that the population are still kept in garrison type of camps. People are not able to go back to undertake their normal activities to rebuild their lives and livelihood. There are periodic attacks on them by non-state armed groups. 

“So, it is quite a difficult situation at this point in time. As a result of that, we are very clear on, and I told this to Mr. president, that there are no humanitarian solutions to humanitarian problems and that the only solution to the North-east is peace. The only thing we can do is to ensure that in whatever we do, we prioritise prevention. We support development in areas feasible and we provide humanitarian assistance when needed. 

“In our jargons, we say we have to bridge the humanitarian development of peace building as a framework to find a solution to the crisis in North-east Nigeria.  The affected people especially the 1.2 million IDPs and over 293,000 refugees in Niger, Chad and Cameroon must be supported in every way,” he said.

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