Ahead of the 2023 general elections in Nigeria, the British government has warned that the 2023 general elections in Nigeria may not hold due to rising cases of conflicts across the country, with calls for breakup and secession.
Speaking at the launch of Nigeria Governors’ Forum Peace and Inclusive Security Initiative, PISI, in Abuja Thursday, the Director, Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office in the United Kingdom, Chris Beecroft, said Nigeria was currently faced with significant peace and security challenges.
According to him, there is an active insurgency in the North East; farmers-herders conflicts which are extending across the country, resource conflicts in the Niger Delta, the tension in the South-East and banditry in the North West.
He noted that Nigeria was at a critical juncture in its journey, adding that the time had come for new thinking and action to build a more peaceful future for all Nigerians. Beecroft said: “We are at a critical juncture in Nigeria’s journey, and now is an important moment for new thinking and action to build a more peaceful future for all Nigerians.
“The Foreign, Common-wealth and Development Office values our relationship with the Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, and have supported the NGF through our programmes, including SPARC, PERL and most recently the Technical Assistance provided in framing the Peace and Inclusive Security initiative, PISI.
“Nigeria faces significant peace and security challenges. There is an active insurgency in the North East; farmer-herder conflicts are extending across the country; resource conflicts in the Delta; tension in the South-East; and banditry in the North West. The rise in conflict risks destabilising Nigeria’s democracy in the run-up to the 2023 elections.
“Conflict destroys lives, destroys livelihoods, destroys hope and ambition for the future. Conflict represents an existential threat to Nigeria’s unity and its development.
‘’The police and army are in urgent need of reform-but the solution to Nigeria’s instability does not lie in simply strengthening the police and army-but rather in building an effective social contract, building federal, state, local and community level infrastructure to manage conflict; and in giving young people jobs and opportunities so they have a stake in a prosperous and peaceful Nigeria.
‘’Injustice and impunity, weak Justice institutions, the proliferation of small arms and weapons, the weaponization of social media, are all drivers of conflict and instability. But with the right commitment, dedication and support, there are solutions.
“The UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, FCDO, recognises the important role NGF plays in setting the peace and security agenda, building state-level and community level structures and institutions to reduce violence and respond to conflict and insecurity across Nigeria.
“The FCDOis keen to continue its collaboration with and support for the government of Nigeria in its efforts to deal with the mounting insecurity. The UK is pleased to have been able to support this initiative and is committed to continuing working with the Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, in advancing its peace and security agenda.
“The UK is engaged in supporting Nigeria to reduce violent conflict in a number of areas; we promote a regional response in the North East and Lake Chad Basin through our contribution to the Regional Stabilisation Facility, RSF, and delivery of programmes on peace-building, humanitarian assistance, protection of civilians, human development, good governance and accountability.
‘’All our programming, whether focused on health, education, economic growth, or governance, works to reduce the risk of violent conflict and support peace-building infrastructure.
“Peace and stability will be achieved when the causes of conflict in society are managed through strong, fair, and responsive governance mechanisms, whether at community, state, or federal level.
‘’The use of the police and army will always be only part of the solution. Greater emphasis needs to be placed on reconciliation, mediation, arbitration, and access to justice – all vital components of a vibrant, resilient, and effective social contract.”
Meanwhile, the NGF raised the alarm that the level of insecurity in the country was not only eroding citizens’ safety and peoples means of livelihood but also threatening the expression of the rights of all Nigerians.