By Kazi Nanyah
Insecurity is a critical issue that has plagued Nigeria, particularly in Plateau State, for many years. The recurring conflicts, attacks on communities and violence have cost significant loss of life, property, and displaced communities. To shed light on this matter, we had the privilege of interviewing Mr. Samuel Obadiah, a renowned lecturer at the Centre for Conflict Management and Peace Studies, University of Jos. Mr. Obadiah shared valuable insights into the causes of insecurity in Plateau State and Nigeria as a whole and provided recommendations for the Governor Caleb Mutfwang-led administration in Plateau State to enhance security architecture, peacebuilding efforts, and grassroots initiatives.
Understanding the Causes of Insecurity
According to Mr. Obadiah, insecurity in Plateau State and Nigeria is rooted in a complex interplay of factors. Ethnic, religious, and political tensions often serve as catalysts for conflicts. Additionally, socio-economic disparities, competition over scarce resources, and the proliferation of arms exacerbate the situation. Moreover, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, the lack of trust among communities, and the failure of governance systems to address grievances and promote inclusivity contribute to the perpetuation of insecurity.
Advising the Plateau State Government on Security Architecture and Peacebuilding
Mr. Obadiah emphasized the importance of a multi-dimensional approach to tackle insecurity in Plateau State. The new administration must prioritize the establishment of a robust security architecture that integrates surveillance, information gathering, and intelligence, using modern technology, and effective response mechanisms. Equally crucial is the implementation of peacebuilding initiatives that foster dialogue, mediation, and reconciliation among different groups. To achieve this, the government should invest in capacity-building for peace and security for critical stakeholders, including youths, community leaders, and traditional rulers.
Harnessing Collaboration: Plateau Peacebuilding Agency and Operation Rainbow
Mr. Obadiah advocated for enhanced collaboration between the Plateau Peacebuilding Agency and Operation Rainbow, a home-grown security outfit that was established in Plateau State in 2010 by former governor Jonah Jang after approval by former President Goodluck Jonathan. By leveraging their strengths and expertise, these agencies can develop joint strategies for conflict prevention, early warning systems, and rapid response to security threats. This collaboration should be based on coordinated efforts to achieve sustainable peace. Within this context, the Plateau State Peacebuilding can serve as a think tank for building the capacity of personnel of Operation Rainbow and other informal security outfits like the Vigilante and Hunters Association, which might be mainstreamed in the security architecture of the state, in particularly non-kinetic aspects of security.
Training and Retraining for Security Operatives
To effectively manage security threats bedeviling communities in Plateau State in line with extant laws of the country and international humanitarian laws, protocols, and conventions, Mr. Obadiah emphasized the need for continuous training and retraining of security operatives. This training should encompass conflict management, human rights, international humanitarian laws, community policing, surveillance, information gathering, and intelligence. Specifically, training should focus on six (6) thematic areas: i. Violent Conflicts and Fragile Security Systems; ii. Security Threats Mapping and Threats Perception Analysis; iii. Surveillance, Information Gathering, and Intelligence; iv. Countering Abduction and Kidnapping Enterprise; v. Security Frameworks and Security Provisioning; and vi. Early Warning and Early Response Systems. By enhancing the capacity of security personnel, they will be better equipped to handle volatile situations; respond to humanitarian emergencies; build trust among communities; and provide timely and appropriate responses to security challenges, among others.
Advocacy and Training for Plateau Citizens
Mr. Obadiah stressed the importance of educating Plateau citizens on the concept of security. Through advocacy campaigns and grassroots training programs, individuals can become more aware of their roles in promoting peace and security. This education should include conflict resolution techniques, tolerance, respect for diversity, and the significance of dialogue in resolving disputes. By empowering citizens with knowledge, they can actively contribute to building a peaceful and secure Plateau State.
Addressing insecurity in Plateau State requires a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach. Through collaboration between security agencies, peacebuilding institutions, and the active involvement of Plateau citizens, sustainable solutions can be achieved. The Plateau State Government, under the leadership of Governor Caleb Mutfwang, has a unique opportunity to rejig the security architecture of the state; invest in training for security operatives; and engage communities in building a secure and peaceful Plateau State. Implementing these recommendations will no doubt pave the way for a more secure and prosperous Plateau State.