Nigeria’s diverse multi-ethnic composition, religious differences, and competition for resources and power have fueled complex conflicts leading to devastating consequences, hindering development and causing economic stagnation. Communal clashes, violent agitations, militia struggles, banditry, cult gang violence, and terrorism have become rampant. Achieving sustainable peace has become an urgent necessity.
In response, various groups, including the government and civil society organisations, have attempted to find peace, but their efforts have yielded limited results due to flawed approaches. To address this, experts propose embracing Conflict Early Warning Early Response System (CEWERS) as a non-kinetic conflict prevention approach.
CEWERS involves actions to promptly respond to conflict indicators, from monitoring and reporting to analysis and early warning dispatch. Testimonies from victims, frontline personnel, and conflict monitors highlight the importance of timely conflict indicators in preventing violence and promoting human security.
Recognising the impact of technology misuse on escalating violence, experts advocate for an information-based conflict prevention system, complementing the efforts of security agencies. Moreover, the government’s responsibility to provide security has been challenged as peaceful communities have become battlegrounds, affected by factors like unemployment, ethnic tensions, and illegal arms influx.
To address these challenges, deploying conflict early warning early response is crucial. Establishing conflict resilience mechanisms in communities would help identify dangerous indicators before they escalate. Enhancing residents’ conflict sensitivity and monitoring capacity further strengthens community resilience against violence.
The government’s emphasis and investment in CEWERS would support conflict resilience mechanisms, improve conflict indicator reporting, and foster coordination among primary responders. While kinetic force may be necessary for peace enforcement, experts argue that the EWER system offers a more comprehensive approach to understanding the root causes of conflicts.
The current administration of President Bola Tinubu could achieve significant progress, especially in agriculture and living standards, through investing in conflict early warning and early response. Emphasising prevention over cure, this approach would save resources spent on peace enforcement, benefit farmers by creating a peaceful agricultural environment, and boost the economy.
A crucial development in Nigeria’s conflict prevention efforts is the establishment of the National Early Warning Response Group (EWRG) by the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution in collaboration with the PARTNER project Consortium sponsored by USAID. To ensure sustainable effectiveness, experts advocate for regulating the Conflict Early Warning Early Response System by enacting the National Peace Policy (NPP) into law.
With support from key stakeholders and lawmakers, the NPP is expected to pave the way for a more coordinated and comprehensive peace practice and operations framework in the country. Embracing the early warning system could be the key to achieving lasting peace and development for Nigeria.