The spate of insecurity and threats to lives and properties of Nigerians has obviously reached an alarming stage. This is in spite of the increasing visibility and combat operations of the Nigerian military and other security agencies in the management of internal conflicts.
These worrisome developments have apparently necessitated the public to question government commitment and strategies employed toward ending the protracted insecurity crisis. Many stakeholders and security experts posited ‘soft or non-kinetic approach’ as a plausible mechanism that can be adopted in solving security challenges currently bedevilling the country.
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However, in adopting this strategy, the role of traditional and religious institutions in conflict management, resolution and prevention as well as maintenance of peace and security can never be downplayed.
Sequel to that, the new compendium of Nigeria’s National Security Strategy (NNSS) 2019, a document released by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) has equally captured the significance of these famous institutions in security management.
Recently, the Commander, Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), Major General Ibrahim Ali, engaged religious and traditional leaders of southern Kaduna to discuss ways on how to facilitate peace and prevent further security challenges in the area.
The traditional leaders agreed to continue to cooperate with the military and other security agencies for the restoration of peace in their communities and urged their subjects to cooperate with security agencies by exposing criminals and giving useful information that may lead to their unmasking and subsequent arrest.
The previous administration through the ONSA was famous for its ‘soft approach’ toward the counter-terrorism war in the North East and militancy in Niger Delta. The method of implementation to this approach is both vertical involving federal, state and local governments and horizontal involving civil society, academics, traditional, religious and community leaders. Special considerations were given to the areas of job creation, poverty alleviation and economic development among others.
Traditional institutions are critical to national cohesion and stability. They play pivotal roles in the preservation of our cultures, traditions, values, morals and beliefs. They serve as first line vanguards in handling communal conflicts and crises.
Lately, with the upsurge in killings and other criminalities in the eastern part of the country, the House of Representatives, has urged the National Security Adviser and other security agencies to deploy all necessary machinery to Anambra to end the wanton killings in the state.
In achieving this mandate, engagement of traditional and religious rulers in the area will be a promising approach to begin with. Members of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), who have since turned to blood-sucking demons, thereby wreaking havoc on their own society can be engaged to discuss their grievances with the government. Meanwhile, alternative measures should be outlined towards addressing such issues in order to end the terror reign in the area.
Nevertheless, for traditional rulers to participate meaningfully on matters of security in the country, the government ought to reposition them to their previously assigned constitutional roles, so as not to just serve as agents of conflict resolution, but also as security managers which they were before; during the colonial era.
With the ever-increasing security challenges facing every part of the country today, it is apt that the integration of traditional rulers and religious leaders into a security network that will provide necessary stability is quite desirable.
Mukhtar Ya’u Madobi contributed this piece from Kano