By Tordue Salem, Abuja
The Institute of Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) has blamed the current conflict in the country, on the Federal government’s failure to implement recommendations from its studies on possible causes of conflicts in the country.
Director-General of the Institute, Bakut T. Bakut, told the House of Representatives on Co-operation and Integration in Africa on oversight function, that the institute envisaged the events happening in the country today and made adequate recommendations to government which were not implemented.
He said even though the institute was set up by the government to do a crisis mapping of the country and advice government, successive governments have failed to implement recommendations from the institute.
He said “when the agency was set up, one of the mandates was strategic conflict assessment aimed at ensuring that we do a mapping of the country in terms of the various challenges that could result to conflicts. We did the first edition in 2002, the second in 2007, another in 2012 and the latest in 2016.
“In our mapping in 2002, we saw what has today become the Boko Haram and we advised the government that if this thing was not addressed, it would escalate to become the danger it has become today.
“In 2007, we saw the indicators telling us of what was likely going to happen if we do not address the challenges posed by environmental issues and the movement of cattle by herdsmen to find greener pasture. Again we wrote to the government, but unfortunately, it was not followed up the way we expected.
“I can tell you that in 2016, we were again able to identify things that prevailed today, particularly poverty and youth restiveness. In the 2016 document, if you look at page 70, you will see our recommendations as to what was meant to have been done by the government.
“If some of these things had been done, we would not be experiencing the challenges we are having with the youths today. This institute was created for good reasons, but unfortunately, the challenges we have revolves around our budgeting”.
Some of the recommendations contained in the document, include promoting sustainable human development, poverty reduction, equitable distribution of national wealth, sustainable environmental development, effective management of humanitarian assistance and good governance and human Security.
However, the Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Mohammed Umar Bago, said the institute has failed in the discharge of its mandate of helping to prevent or resolve conflicts in the country by not doing enough advocacy and enlightenment.
While saying not many Nigerians are aware of the existence of the institute or what they do, he insisted that even when they saw what will likely happen, they never spoke out by informing Nigerians what they discovered and how to avoid such conflict.
He said “we are here to know who you are because many Nigerians don’t even know you exist. So, it is advocacy we are also doing to know what you do and who you are, how you get resources to do what you are supposed to do, know your challenges and how we can help you.
“What I have discovered is that as a government, we are not serious. If you are giving this kind of budget to an institution of this nature, then, you are not ready to resolve conflict. I saw in the 2020 budget where the Tiv/Jukun crisis was allocated N5 million.
“That does not show seriousness because that conflict has been on the front burner in this country for a long time and yet, we are talking about N5 million budget for advocacy in that area.
“Now, you are bringing the 2021 budget and it is not different from the 2020 budget and you are not thinking of farmers/herdsmen crisis, you are not thinking about banditry, the issue of Boko Haram is not being considered neither is the issue of END SARS is being considered.
“You need to write to the committee stating your challenges so that we can talk to appropriation and see how we can get funding for these important issues. It is a shame that people are being killed, maimed and you as an institution that is supposed to take care of those issues, you are just silent about it.
“If we are to rate you in terms of performance, we would say that you have not done anything because even if you saw it coming, did you shout or speak out. Is there anything to show that you told the nation what you saw coming?
“Look at the Covid-19. People went and shamelessly stashed palliatives in warehouses and if there is too much hunger in the land, people will revolt. So, you also need to advise the government and policymakers. Write to them and make it known instead of keeping quiet.
“We came here and you gave us cartons of books which you should have taken to schools and given to students. You should be going to schools to deliver lectures for free.
“You should have a presence in all the 774 local government areas in this country and should be able to go round with your team and make sure that people understand the consequences of things that are happening”, he stated.