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WANEP harps on need investment in peacebuilding

The West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), has called on the government and relevant authorities in the West Africa region, and the Lake Chad basin to invest in peacebuilding as a means to tackle conflict.

The organisation made the call on Monday, at the beginning of a 3-day training workshop on conflict prevention, violent extremism, Crisis management and peacebuilding, in Abuja.

This was organized by the Research and Action for Peace Network (REcAP Network), and implemented by WANEP, in partnership with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), and the Danish Refugee Council (DRC),with funding from the European Union (EU).

The project seeks to establish a sustainable, more inclusive, and effective regional network of experts specialised in peacebuilding, the prevention of conflicts and violent extremism in 18 countries in West Africa and the Lake Chad Basin to act as an interactive platform for regional cooperation.

Regional Coordinator, Research and Capacity Building WANEP-Regional, Festus Kofi Aubyn, during his presentation on ‘conflict and conflict prevention,’ noted that for every conflict experienced in an environment, there have been early warning signs neglected by the authorities.

According to Aubyn, situations that lead to conflict are escalated because relevant authorities do not make concerted efforts to tackle immediate actions that result in conflict.

He noted that Peacebuilding is not a one off event as warring parties should be allowed to air their perspectives and then settle for a compromise as this leads to the building of relationship which is important in resolving conflict.While also advocating for preventive mechanisms .

He said, “conflict prevention is very key. We do not have to always be preventive but proactive. This is to ensure that conflict does not start in the first place.”

Proffering solutions to crisis management and Peacebuilding, Aubyn urged the use of systematic, direct, and structural methods noting, conflicts are dynamic and various individual perspectives need to be carried along.

“Poverty and employment can be causes of conflict in the society if not tackled in a long period, but can not be resolved through direct or systematic means of prevention. But a structural means of prevention can be applied as this is a process that takes a longer time to properly address conflicting issues.

“The aim is to reduce violence as well as addressing the root causes of the violence. It is for a longer term. It involves a wider range of issues and actors, he said.

The Nigeria National Network Coordinator WANEP, Dr. Bridget Osakwe on her part noted that, resources do not create conflict except there is a deliberate intention to use it. Adding, resources are enough to go round but not enough to settle the greed of many.

Osakwe highlighted the need for conflict analysis in peacebuilding, noting the strategy deployed in bringing conflict to an end is only as good as the analysis carried out else, it will not yield positive results.

Speaking further she emphasised that, individuals mistake peacebuilding and peacekeeping to mean the same process, noting the later occurs when war is in place and the use of military force is implied.

She underscored the need for the government to provide basic amenities for the citizens, especially those at the rural areas, stating these individuals only demand for their rights, which according to her is not difficult to achieve.

She said, “violent extremism strives in ungoverned spaces. In the NorthEast terrorism was easy to penetrate because they provided the locals with their basic needs.

“Items as little as wheelbarrows were distributed to locals and this for a long period enhanced local support for the terrorists actions.”