-Blank NEWS Online (NIGERIA):
MANAGING Director, Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, DESOPADEC, Bashorun Askia Ogieh, has said early warning and response systems are vital tools for conflict prevention in the country.
The DESOPADEC boss was speaking at Uzere on Wednesday, during a stakeholders sensitisation workshop on enhancing violent conflict prevention through community early warning and early response for sustainable peace in Delta State.
Represented by the Executive Director, Planning, Research and Statistics, DESOPADEC, Comrade Shadrack Agediga, Bashorun Askia lamented what he described as the disturbing failure of law enforcement agencies especially state intelligence agencies to nip nascent issues in the bud.
He noted that the events of the past six months in all parts of the country is a pointer to the disturbing failure of these agencies, adding that there was need to unbundle the Nigeria Police Force through the provision of state police in the constitution.
While commending the organizers of the workshop for their foresight, he said that communities and the country at large are plagued by recurring violence and internal conflicts that have resulted in avoidable casualties.
He stressed further that a growing phenomenon is the prevalence of conflicts orchestrated by external forces, stating that whether it is incursions by cattle herders or attacks by kidnappers, a common denominator is the absence of early warning to and by inhabitants of the communities.
According to him, “In any multiethnic society, the maintenance of peace is not necessarily the absence of disagreement but the product of a proactive system that promptly detects the covert, overt and subtle signs of discontent and looming conflict.
“Early warning and early response systems are vital tools for conflict prevention and initiating timely responses to keep civilians safe.
“Conflict prevention is possible, but only if the civil society, religious bodies, and policymakers are sensitive to early conflict indicators and coordinate a unified response.
“Early warning and early response systems form critical mechanisms designed to stop violence before it starts and minimize the impact of conflict on civilians.
“In our local communities, the systems are most effective when there is a synergy and well-coordinated efforts between community volunteers, civil society organizations, religious institutions and the government.
“Early warning networks normally build on an understanding of root causes of violence, such as breakdowns in political, economic or security structures. A corollary of having a reliable early warning system is the existence of an effective early response system.”
Speaking on the role being played by DESOPADEC towards fostering peace in the state, he said: “At DESOPADEC, we desire a peaceful atmosphere in our mandate communities. I want to assure you all that we will continue to support any initiative that will enable stakeholders and security agencies contain any latent disturbance.”