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Conflicts: Employing Non-Violent Approach – By Arnold A. Alalibo

By Arnold A. Alalibo | NNP | March 4, 2017 –The world has experienced so many bloody wars that claimed several lives and ended a lot of people in grief. Almost in every country, there are stories of how someone’s greed or lust for power ended in the carnage of many innocent persons and the destruction of properties and cities.


Even wars that were fought for good reasons, like the civil war of the United States of America, USA, that abolished slavery, claimed many lives. However, there are people who have gone about making the changes they thought necessary without recourse to violence or brute force. It is for these people the world celebrated the International Day of Non-Violence on 2nd October 2016. There is no gainsaying the fact that a day set aside to celebrate non-violent ways of making statements, agitations and bringing about change is appropriate.

Every individual, group or organisation that struggles or moves against injustice through peaceful strategies deserves to be celebrated. October 2 every year has been set aside by the United Nations as a day to promote non-violence in conflict resolution. The date was chosen to commemorate the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, an Indian, and one of the most influential political activists of all time.


Gandhi fought India’s independence from Britain by using non-violent civil disobedience to overthrow the imperialists, who ruled India at the time. Despite being hounded relentlessly and thrown into jail severally, he never abandoned his non-violent approach for violent means. His peaceful approach gave India the independence it had long sought.


The independence of his country was not the only issue Gandhi found important, however, he was also interested in building good relationships among people of different religions and ethnicities, expanding women’s rights and reducing poverty.


The International Day of Non-Violence has strong connections to the various events occurring globally that threaten world peace. A recent publication of the World’s Economic Forum Global Risks Report 2016 had listed some biggest threats to world peace which could culminate in violence.


One of the factors is the current mass migration of displaced persons, especially from Africa and the Arab world to parts of Europe. More than half of the world’s refugees today come from Afghanistan, Syria and Somalia. They were forced to leave their homelands primarily because of war which, in the first place, would not have occurred had the issues that led to the conflicts been handled non-violently.


Another global concern for violence, according to the publication, is the collapse of states. Governments are failing and this is leading to an upsurge in armed banditry, giving room for militant groups to take over territories and export violence to other countries. An example is ISIS that emerged as a result of the conflicts in Libya and Iraq.


The third risk the Report lists is inter-state conflicts. The world is facing a possible increase in conflict of interest on the one hand, and an increase in fragility and disintegration of states on the other. A union of these two trends as the world saw in Libya, Iraq and Yemen, for example, become more likely to take regional and global dimensions.


Unemployment or underemployment has been rated another concern. The current global unemployment rate has been considered high. But it is higher in the Middle East where the rate is estimated to be 30 percent, thereby making it the region with the highest unemployment level. It is very probable that these developments could lead to more conflicts in that location.


The Report also mentions failure in governance as an immediate concern. The breakdown of governance as a result of failed elections, imposition of leaders (like the cases in Burundi and Gabon) and the prevailing economic crises, especially in African countries, could promote instability. According to the Report, if countries failed to end their governance crises, it would become harder to bring about peace and stability.


Nigeria is not left out from this global trend of violence. The country is regularly ravaged by violence and insecurity. As a result, so many lives have been lost to the series of unending conflicts to the point that many Nigerians are not sure of having stable homes again. Children are missing and may never see their parents any longer.


The Boko Haram sect has been wreaking havoc on parts of Nigeria, especially in North East, where over 250 female secondary school students at Chibok community in Borno State were abducted in one fell swoop, while their male counterparts in another secondary school were murdered in their sleep. The sect remains a veritable security threat.


Ethnic militia has been a recurring decimal in Nigeria and has remained a threat to the corporate existence of the country. They operate under different names. Meanwhile analysts say the dissatisfaction with the structure, operation and power configuration of Nigeria’s federalism is responsible for the emergence of the groups.


The persisting clashes between herdsmen and farmers remain in the front burner. The most recent of such clashes were those that happened at the Agatu and Nimbo communities in Benue and Enugu States respectively. Several lives were lost in both attacks.


The high level of unemployment is a security threat and a source of violence. As is usually said, an unemployed youth is a time-bomb waiting to explode. The youths express their frustration by engaging in all sorts of crimes like kidnapping, armed robbery, sea piracy, cattle rustling etc.


Also, the uneven development in different parts of the country, particularly in the oil producing areas, has become an undesirable security breach. The indigenes of the places where the resources are located are sometimes angered by the negligence of their communities and embark on violent agitations. They feel cheated and vandalise oil pipelines. Some of them have resorted to armed struggle against the federal government.


When the judiciary is corrupt and demonstrates it by delivering injustice instead of justice, the people are angered which occasionally leads to a breakdown of law and order. Similarly, when public funds are misappropriated by political leaders, it causes poverty and denies the citizens development and the good things of life. Violence ensues as a consequence.


Violence is proliferated in many societies because peaceful approach is often jettisoned. Non-violent stand on issues promotes positive social results and enables the achievement of real progress. Therefore, rather than resort to war, countries must employ diplomacy to broker peace.


The International Day of Non-Violence is a call for all to negotiate ways of peace even when it seems difficult and impracticable. By this way, non-violence can acquire a new meaning and become a realistic political method that gives rise to hope.


To make non-violent approach to conflicts practicable in Nigeria, the political method in operation has to be based on the rule of law. If the rights and dignity of every citizen is safeguarded without discrimination, non-violence will become a realistic way to overcome armed conflicts in the country.

 

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