…As Army adopts non-kinetic means in South East

From Jude Chinedu, Enugu

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The Nigerian Army has agreed to adopt non-kinetic means of conflict resolution in efforts towards addressing issues of insecurity and quelling secessionist agitation in the South East.
General Officer Commanding (GOC), 82 Division, Nigerian Army, and Theatre Commander, Operation ‘Udo Ka,’ Major General Hassan Dada, disclosed at a workshop in Enugu on February 28.
The one-day regional workshop on enhancing connection among peace-builders in the South East was organised by the Security, Violence and Conflict Research Group (SVC-RG), University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in collaboration with the United States Institute of Peace.
Diverse stakeholders in peace-building and conflict transformation in the region, including government officials, security agencies, traditional institutions, civil society organizations and renowned academics, participated in the session.
Gen. Dada said that though the army was trained to use force to quell any form or insurrection, it has discovered that using only a kinetic approach in addressing issues such as witnessed in the South East do not address the issues at stake.
“Anyone in the South East will know that in the last four to five years, we have not had a good Christmas as a result of insecurity. But last year’s Christmas was very peaceful, indicating the progress we have made working in collaboration with other security agencies in the region.
“Everyone of us here, including other stakeholders, should make sure that all that we have achieved does not go to waste,” he said.
The GOC also harped on the progress in the region, in contrast to the years when he served there as a Captain.
Coordinator, SVC-RG UNN, Prof. Freedom Onuoha, who spoke on the objectives of the workshop, highlighted the urgent need for connectivity and collaboration among the community of peace-building actors to ensure durable peace in the zone.
He said that it was gratifying to hear the Nigerian Army, which is a key player in peace-building in the area, agreed to employ peaceful methods in addressing security challenges in the region.
Onuoha explained: “The idea is to bring peace builders together to discuss and reflect on the progress we are making in the region and see some of the challenges and the setbacks, map the next step or the way forward, and most importantly, act as a unique body that thinks together and acts together.
“We have already talked of the idea of forming a South East Peace-building Forum which will serve as a platform that brings these diverse actors together to reflect on the emerging security challenges and fashion sustainable peace.
“So, this is like a seed sowing intervention. We are generating ideas which will be developed, sustained in such a way that we can begin to talk about the restoration of durable peace in the South East region.
“I think the GOC is on top of the game, he has emphasised that the ability to deal with some of the challenges we are having will depend on the robust combination of both the kinetic and non-kinetic strategies.”
Also speaking, the Community Engagement Officer of USIP, Terfer Hemen, said that the goal of the Institute is to see how to coordinate and bring civil society organisations together to synergise and come up with more effective strategies to bring peace to the South East.
“Basically, this is because of the level of insecurity in the South East and not just in the South East, but the whole of Nigeria. For USIP, the goal is nonviolence. We keep passing the message of using non-violence approach to achieve peace.
“One thing that gladdened my heart is that the GOC of the 82 Division said that they have gotten to that point where they would be thinking more about deploying non-kinetic measures to achieve peace in the South East. It is good that the security agencies are thinking that way,” the USIP representative