In July 2010 Partners International Foundation conducted an initial CAPS-based assessment in the River Delta region of Nigeria. This assessment is the first component of a pilot implementation of our Global Campaing against IEDs in Nigeria. The following is a press release announcing publication of the report describing the assessment.
Partners International Foundation Releases Initial Assessment Report on the Proliferation of Improvised Explosive Devices in Nigeria and the Niger Delta Issues Warning but Identifies Opportunities for Peace
Ominous Warning but a Real Opportunity for Peace and Reconciliation
Yorktown, Virginia – Partners International Foundation today released its Initial assessment report on the proliferation of Improvised explosive Devices (IEDs) in Nigeria and conflict in the Niger Delta. Originally completed in September 2010, Partners International Foundation (PIF) held back full release while circulating the report to key Nigerian stakeholders. The report warned of a new round of violence and bombing that eventually began with four simultaneous IEDs detonated on October 1, 2010 during Nigeria’s 50th Anniversary Celebration.
“While they did not speak for all former militants, almost all of those we spoke with during the assessment were concerned about the rise of radical elements within their group and very worried violence would return,” said Robert Morris, PIF’s Founder and President. We wanted to get that information to those who could act on it and work with the former militants sincere about reconciliation – unfortunately, it turns out their concerns were genuine.”
The purpose of PIF’s assessment was to determine the feasibility of conducting a pilot project in the Niger Delta to eliminate the root causes of IEDs using PIF’s Capabilities Analysis and Performance Strategy (CAPS).
“A stable and secure Nigeria is essential to a stable and secure Africa.” Says Morris. “Events in Nigeria have continental and global effect. As a regional power and the hegemony in West Africa, events in Nigeria ripple continentally.”
Although it sounded dire warnings of the new and more serious violence that began October 1, 2010, the PIF report finds many reasons for hope and positive opportunities.
Timi Alaibe, Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Head of the President's Amnesty Programme expressed support for the logic and strategy of IEDs as a unifying issue and CAPS as the means to address broader social, economic, and other factors. He expressed his support, and that of his office, to execute a Pilot in the Niger Delta with Rivers State being the pilot location. At his request PIF provided a current proposal with a concept for execution, milestones, and short, mid, and long-term resource requirements.
The Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Rivers State, Port Harcourt, Nigeria met with the assessment team to receive a cpy of the initial plan developed for Mr. Alaibe and promise to review it. Hon. Amaechi expressed interest and support for the pilot in his state, stating he looked forward meeting with Morris and Alaibe to dialogue on execution and bring in the Rivers State staff to help further develop and execute implementation.
The initiative also garnered initial support from Federal Republic of Nigeria Senators and Members of the House of Representatives including: Honorable Tam Brisibe; Senator Ibrahim M. Ida, (CHAIRMAN - Committee on Defence and Army; MEMBER – Committee on Finance, INEC, Rules and Business); Senator James E. Manager (CHAIRMAN - Senate Committee on Niger Delta; MEMBER – Committee on State and Local Government Affairs, Banking, Finance, Judiciary, and Works); Honorable Mutu Nicolas Ebomo (CHAIRMAN- House Committee on the Niger Delta). Although PIF did not seek a commitment of resources from the group, all expressed interest in the concept and concern over the growing IED problem. They looked forward to the project being brought forward to them for consideration.
The report documents very positive participation by offices of the Nigerian Defence Headquarters; Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC); Security Department, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation; and the Embassies of the United States and United Kingdom., Abuja, Nigeria.
Morris was especially encouraged by the response from those former militants the team interviewed.
“While we were unable to sit down with the top MEND leaders, the former militants who met with us were sincere and had many constructive points”, said Morris. “There is a real opportunity for dialogue.” Morris quickly added PIF’s report is not intended to infer it will be easy. Morris added: “There are radical elements within the former militants; just as there are those in society and the government who will never work legitimately for peace. This group is the real threat to both sides and must be dealt with under the rule of law.”
As detailed in the report, former militants in Port Harcourt and Abuja expressed support for the PIF plan and a Pilot in Rivers State. They welcomed PIF as a neutral party that can hold both sides accountable and keep both sides informed as a trusted source. These former militants accepted a copy of the proposed plan and will seek input from the former-militant leadership.
For all its positive points, the report sounded serious warnings and identified dangerous trends. These were eventually manifest in the October 1st attacks.
Former militants interviewed for the report expressed concern Nigeria’s politicians are waiting to act until after the elections. They cautioned that radical elements were mobilizing in the Creeks because the Amnesty Program seems to have failed.
The group expressed low trust for the Amnesty Program based on the perceptions the government has not followed their own plan on the Amnesty program; that political sentiment is tainting the process; and there is no perceived physical development. In their view, people who were not militants are receiving even less or no help. They feel those who broke the law (militants) are getting the priority and it is creating a rift and un-rest. They expressed concern all people (former militants and non-militants) do not benefit from the improvements. The report documented a growing rift between non-militants who feel they obeyed the law and are being neglected in favor of those they perceive as criminals based on the government’s characterizations.
The report also reveals serious issues with other groups and handling of the IED problem itself.
The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited representative interviews flatly told the PIF assessment team that Shell will never acknowledge the existence or use of IEDs in Nigeria as it would give the militants an advantage. He continued by stating that if the government of Nigeria wants to do business with Shell, it is their job to create a stable and secure environment, not the oil company’s.
PIF notes these attitudes by individuals and governments are a significant contributing factor to the global IED problem and the growing epidemic in Nigeria.
According to PIF’s Subject Matter Expert (SME) in Nigeria, Dr. Jerome Mafeni, “With over 300 IED incident every month around the world, IEDs are a global epidemic and the number of IED incidents is increasing every month.” The problem says Mafeni is that “Although Illicit Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) pose a significant threat to global security, stability, sustainable development, human rights, and humanitarian operations, they are incorrectly framed as military problem. A purely military response will never: effectively halt the proliferation of illicit IEDs; eliminate IED civilian Casualties; or adequately neutralize the root cause of illicit IED networks and the devices they produce.” The solution he and PIF offer is a disciplined, international public-private effort to identify and neutralize the root causes of illicit IED networks globally; reduce the civilian casualties they cause; and build sustainable livelihoods for effected populations using a capital forms model and the international rule of law.
Mafeni understands well the reasons current approaches such as those implemented by Western Nations in Iraq and Afghanistan have failed. He notes the major reasons for the failure experienced by these approaches is a combination of: Seeing IEDs as essentially as Security (military) problem; Insufficient mobilization of host communities to take ownership of and responsibility for the problem; Non-inclusion of several stakeholders e.g. academia, CSOs, and industry; Intelligence failures; Insufficient deployment of available modern technology; Inadequate commitment of funds; Treating perpetrators as political activists; Failure to apply the rule of law; and over-reliance on kinetic solutions vice having the courage to open a dialogue about the true root causes.
Morris, a retired military officer with over 31 years experience in conventional and Special Operations agrees.
“In dealing with IEDs, the military generally focuses on defeating the device itself or attacking the network that creates and emplaces IEDs through kinetic means. The normal approach by law enforcement agencies is to arrest all potential suspects and their collaborators.” Says Morris. “Many politicians choose the path of appeasement, treating perpetrators not as criminals but freedom fighters with ‘Amnesty’ as the solution.” He adds, “There is always the fear of losing face that leads to denial and cover up. For example ‘explosions are not caused by IEDs but other causes e.g. electric device failures. This leads to acceptance and accommodation such as ‘IED threats impossible to eradicate so the natural approach is to adopt measures for prevention and minimizing damage.”
Morris is also quick to add that this is not a condition specific to Nigeria. “Look at the United States,” he opines. “car bombs found in Time Square and in the mail system are not recognized as IEDs but referred to as ‘devices”. By definition, the planes involved in the now famous September 11th attacks were IEDs”.
The report concludes any solution for the Niger Delta must be shaped in the Delta and led by the people of the Delta and all legitimate parties. This is the essential requirement for and approach of PIF’s CAPS Pilot proposal.
Current conditions in Nigeria between the opposing parties and in other areas are very positive for a CAPS deployment. Former militants and legitimate opposition groups appear to have a genuine desire for reconciliation and development to succeed. The opportunity is before Nigeria to execute a paradigm shift in use of Nigeria’s oil revenue from a reactive approach to a proactive one that invests in sustainable livelihoods for Nigeria's people far into the future when oil resources are exhausted.
While the conditions in Nigeria present a positive environment, a holistic and comprehensive approach to addressing the issues is needed immediately. The trust and confidence essential to a CAPS deployment is currently strong but rapidly dissipating.
The report warned at the time that if action was not taken immediately and even deferred until after the scheduled elections, the alternative is to risk a high probability of catastrophic failure at the national level. Without positive action prior to the January 2010 elections PIF predicts violence and instability will return at significantly higher levels than previously seen in Nigeria. The report also predict militants who reject the amnesty in favor of crime and corruption as well as others who seek to attain financial or political gain will expand the bombings to Abuja and other major cities. These will undermine the political capital of the current administration and those honestly seeking reform and positive change among the people, former militants, and politicians.
In light of the October 1st attacks the report’s conclusions were prophetic.
Still, Morris and the PIF Team remain hopeful.
“We believe the conditions are right in Nigeria and the Delta to implement this approach and resolve these problems. We believe the people of Nigeria can success in this where many western countries failed. In doing so they can set a global example.”
As of the report’s release PIF awaits the committed action by The President’s Amnesty Program, Rivers State, and Former Militants. The President’s Special Advisor on the Amnesty program stated he is committed to the pilot but requires more time to review the operational concept. PIF is waiting a time to meet again with Rivers Governor and for the joint Rivers State and Presidential Amnesty Program coordination meeting to occur.
In the meantime, PIF is continuing to work.
Morris recently met with the State of Virginia in the United States, Google, and other potential public and private partners. Plans are working for PIF to establish a global IED center in Virginia, and hopes to use the Rivers Pilot as a means to establish an Africa focused sub-center in Nigeria.
“For many reasons our preference is to execute the pilot in Nigeria”, says Morris. “Going forward with that is up to the governments and the former militants. From their position, those funding the violence should really show their sincerity and ‘fund the peace’. All stakeholders individually and collectively have the resources to start to pilot today and begin receiving return on their investment.”
Morris concludes: “We take all we met with their word they genuinely want to resolve these issues for the people of Nigeria. We are ready to help. In the end, they will be measured by their actions or inaction.”
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