On 16th May 2017, Tarila Marclint Ebiede, ACP YPN expert on peace and security and Research Fellow (PhD) at the University of Leuven, participated as an expert at a workshop on “New approaches to collective security” organized by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Peace and Security Centre of Competence in Sub Saharan Africa. The meeting was attended by experts drawn from Africa and Germany.
Tarila discussed the challenges of sustainable peacebuilding in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region in the context of “why peace fails in post-conflict countries in Africa?”. Tarila discussed three key issues within this topic 1) understanding violent conflicts in Nigeria’s Niger Delta. 2) the amnesty and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of ex-combatants in Nigeria’s Niger Delta. And 3) Instability since the implementation of an amnesty and DDR programme.
- First, Tarila explained his research project at the University of Leuven’s Centre for Research on Peace and Development. This research project shows that there are multiple dimensions to armed conflicts in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region. However, the Nigerian government focused mainly on one dimension, which is the armed militancy against the Nigerian government and oil industry in the region. This has informed the state response to conflict in the region. Hence, while the state peacebuilding policy focuses on armed militancy, other forms of conflicts continue to persist in local communities. This argument of the research is in Tarila’s published paper with African Security.
- Second, Tarila explained that the application of an amnesty and DDR programme provided financial incentives for armed groups to participate in the peace process in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region. However, these financial incentives increased the cost of the peace process. The Nigerian government is no longer able to bear the cost of the DDR programme due to formidable economic challenges. This has triggered new violence in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region.
- Finally, Tarila discussed the new forms of violence in Nigeria’s Niger Delta. He explained that this renewed violence is caused by ex-combatants who are struggling to maintain the financial incentives in Nigeria’s DDR programme.
In summary, Tarila argued that a key lesson from Nigeria’s Niger Delta is that peacebuilding within new approaches to collective security in Africa should pay attention to the unintended consequences of incentive structures that are created as a result of financial benefits in peacebuilding programmes such as DDR. Tarila noted that peacebuilding policies such as DDR should not create a dependent relationship between armed groups and the state. Instead, peacebuilding should focus on addressing the various dimensions of armed conflicts as it affects conflict impacted communities.
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Get in touch with Tarila Marclint Ebiede: @temarclint