By Anthony Adgidzi
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is proposing the establishment of Peace and Conflicts Management bill to the Nasarawa State Government, saying, should the bill be given consideration, it would address the numerous security challenges confronting the State.
The State Coordinator of the UNDP, Okafor Christian stated this during an advocacy visit to the State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Abdulkarim Abubakar Kana in his office in Lafia.
The UNDP peace mission team who were led by the Special adviser to Governor Abdullahi Sule on NGOs and Development Partners, Munira Abdullahi, were hopeful that the proposed bill will help to track any possible security breach.
According to the UNDP, if the bill comes into being, with an agency, it would provide policy support, coordinate stakeholders in conflicts management and will mobilize resources to support the peace building initiative of the state government.
“We have come here to advocate for the law to be expedited and be looked into by the State Assembly. We made some contacts to the key stakeholders in the State and every body is happy that it is long overdue.”
Christian was optimistic that the establishment of the peace building agency would not only ensure peace in the State but would create jobs, provide enabling environments for businesses and would attract investments to Nasarawa State.
The State UNDP Coordinator who recounted the several interventions of UNDP, said other joint UN peace initiatives are being implemented in Taraba, Benue and Nasarawa assuring that, they have some resources to be committed in the project to support the State, if the draft bill come to light.
He listed livelihood, conflicts assessment and mapping, peace infrastructure, early warning and early response systems as some of the components that would facilitate their operations in conflict monitoring across Nasarawa State and beyond.
He said, aside from the manpower drawn from different security systems, UNDP have provided facilities to be handled by people trained in that direction to raise alarm and to report early signs of conflicts
He added, should the peace building law come in place, it would not only institutionalise the system, it will bring everyone on board, strengthen the capacity of the people and the whole system for effectiveness and efficiency.
“The comparative benefits to all these that we talk about is that, we have so many people around the world, interlocutors who have to resources to put in peace building, but if you don’t have the law, peace building institutions and early warning response system that helps you to stabilize Nasarawa State, how then do you tell others to come that your house is in order.
“So, it is important to put the house in order and that is why we are here and UNDP and other UN stakeholders are putting enough resources and efforts to ensure that, what Beneue and Taraba is getting, Nasarawa State is getting the same thing.”
He mentioned that, Nasarawa being close to the FCT, with strategic resource diversification, it was important to have peace building structures to enable the state deal with other aspects of developments.
Christian urged the State government to galvanize the opportunity available them for the good of the state and benefit of the people, adding that, UNDP got some support, funds and consultants that would assit the state achieve it peace building initiative.
He explained that, whatever intervention UNDP was to build on the existing interventions so that we can sufficient harvest, and as such, the peace building project is looking at issues beyond the Cameron borders and for cross border peace stabilization efforts.
In his response, the State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Assoc. Prof. Abdulkarim Abubakar Kana commended the efforts and commitment of the UNDP peace mission in the state.
The Attorney General who decried the multiple laws in place that are not being implemented, said, the State government was hoping to operationalize all the existing laws that have almost 70 percent provisions in full for the benefit of the people.
“Some of the Provisions within that laws that were proposed were in conflict with the existing law, it addresses the issues in the draft bill.
“It is on that basis we said, let see how we can operationalize the existing laws that have similar Provisions in other law. Let’s wait and operationalize it in full, because, it will be of no use starting a law we know we can’t implement.
“So, the once we have in place, let’s fully implement them first, and to decide whether there is need to amend that one, repeal it and have another law.”
According to him, “the circumstances now in the State is the challenge we are facing that are emanate, and one more of concern to us now is the outrageous nature of crimes that are more prevalence.”
Kana who recalled the serial communal clashes in the State, that gave birth to Ombatse cult, Igbera/Bassa communities, Tiv farmers and Fulani herdsmen, said, it was good to envisage things as what the UNDP is proposing and the need to come up with law that would check cases as the ones faced in the past was necessary.
“We are not saying that, it has all ended and there will be no possibility of hostility arising in the future.”
He stressed that, peace is something we have to work on always, because, as from the last one and half year, the volume of files been handled on my table shows the cases of kidnapping and rape was on the increase.
The Justice Commissioner assured the delegation that, we will not throw away the idea, we will look at the bill and make inputs where that will give it a smooth sail.
He said, “at the moment we have a law that has never been operationalize, the farmer/herdsmen conflict resolution law of Nasarawa State, since it was passed, the mechanism and the structure was never put in place.
“And we have quite a number of provisions within the penal code, which should address some of the challenges of peace.
“But like I said, we will study the bill and see what we will come up with. My only worry is that we keep creating law and we keep employing those who will implement it, and out of deliberately or share lack of capacities they fail to do it.
“And there is problem each time laws are not been implemented, because it always come back to the Ministry of Justice.”
Kana lamented how a number of MDAs are not doing their job, thereby piling work to his Ministry, when things go wrong or someone commits an offence out there.