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IPOB Is Amenable To Mediation, Boko Haram Terrorist Group Is Not – Prof Aniagolu

Renowned scholar, Prof. Emeka Aniagolu, Executive Director, Research, Innovation & Development, Fides et Ratio, Ltd., has stated on Wednesday, July 13, during a lecture presentation in Enugu, that the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is amenable to mediation while the Boko Haram terrorist group is not due to its absolutist ideology.

Prof. Aniagolu was a Keynote Speaker at the 2022 edition of the annual lecture organized by the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators (ICMC) Enugu branch with the theme Stemming the Tide of Agitation & Insecurity in Nigeria Through Mediation.”

Prof. Aniagolu who felt highly honored to be invited by ICMC to speak at the august occasion observed that it is the instance of conflict, the pursuit of incompatible goals by individuals or groups, that gives rise to the need for mediation and conciliation. In other words, without conflict, there would be no need for mediation or conciliation.

Prof. Aniagolu, used instances of conflict in the Bible, like the one between God, Adam and Eve which resulted in banishment, and the one between Cain and Abel which resulted in homicide, as evidence that conflict has been with mankind since the beginning of time.

He however, pointed out that if only they had mediators or conciliators like members of the ICMC at their disposal in those Biblical times, their stories might have ended differently.

Prof. Aniagolu identified three main reasons to choose Mediation or Conciliation over going to court. First, Mediation or Conciliation is more Cost-Effective. Secondly, amicable agreements can be reached; and finally, it is a shorter process than the Court System.Consequently, mediation and conciliation, as alternative conflict resolution methods, are best suited in varieties of cases.

He observed that the lecture theme “Stemming the Tide of Agitation & Insecurity in Nigeria Through Mediation, at first, seems to suggest that mediation and conciliation could be effective means of resolving agitation, terrorism and armed insurgency in Nigeria; especially, as it concerns groups like Boko Haram, IPOB, MASSOB, etc.

Prof. Aniagolu listed the two critical variables that need to be considered, before the relevance as well as effectiveness of mediation and conciliation in such conflicts can be determined:

First, what is the nature of the agitating and/or conflicting groups and their expressed goals or objectives? Is the group an absolutist ideological entity? And, is its goal or objective, the revolutionary overthrow of the government and/or the State?

If it is, then, it’s ideological goal or objective is its raison d’etre–its existential reason of being–in which case, mediation or conciliation would not be effective mechanisms for conflict resolution in such an instance.

Second, if, on the other hand, the nature of the conflicting group is such that it is open to ideological negotiation or modification, and/or its goal or objective is reformation, restitution and/or the equitable redistribution of resources, power and authority; then, the mechanism or tool of mediation or conciliation, could be effective and productive in such instances.

For him, Boko Haram, is of the first category, and therefore, not amenable to the mechanism or tool of mediation or conciliation.

IPOB, on the other hand, is of the second category, and therefore, potentially amenable to mediation or conciliation.

He found justification for his stand by the fact that IPOB’s demands, are clear, objective, achievable and finite. Founded in 2012, the group has accused the government of Nigeria of poor Investment in the economy of the South East, political Alienation of the region, inequitable resource distribution, ethnic marginalization, heavy military presence & extrajudicial killings in the South-Eastern, South Central and parts of the North-Central regions of Nigeria.

The argument is that if the Federal Government of Nigeria were to meet IPOB’s demands, the group wouldn’t espoused secession from the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Each and every one of IPOB’s grievances are, therefore, potentially resolvable, directly between the government and IPOB, in a court of law or through a process of mediation or conciliation; if there is political will and good faith on the part of the contending parties: IPOB and the Nigerian government.”

A sharp contrast to IPOB, Boko Haram, which developed into a jihadist organization in 2009, “opposes the Westernization of Nigerian society, which it blames for Nigeria’s culture of corruption, and demands the establishment of an Islamic state in Nigeria,” based on Sharia Law.

Since “Boko Haram’s stated goal or objective is the non-negotiable overthrow and replacement of the secular, democratic, constitutional Nigerian State with an Islamic one, based on Sharia Law,” it has been globally designated a terrorist organization.

According to available records, Boko Haram’s deadly attacks in Nigeria from 2011 to 2022 have resulted in 61,261 deaths as well as the displacement of over 2.3 million people from their homes. Cameroun, Chad and Niger have also recorded thousands of deaths and displacement of indigenous populations from Boko Haram attacks. Clearly, the absolutist ideology of a terrorist group makes it totally averse to mediation and conciliation.

Concluding his delivery, Prof. Aniagolu posed a number of thought-provoking questions for delibrationon the engagement of mediation and conciliation in solving various problems of society.

He asked:

How is the mediation or conciliation between Labor and Capital, in the context of the capitalist economic system we operate in Nigeria’s political economy, to be undertaken? The on-going situation with ASUU, being a good case in point.

How is the relationship between the Nigerian citizen and the Nigerian government, to be mediated or conciliated, in terms of democratic governance, defined in terms of political, human and civil rights, with respect to the prerequisites of national development?

How is the law and order regime, between law enforcement agencies, the army and the police and the Nigerian citizen, to be mediated or conciliated?

How is the mediation or conciliation between the Primordialism of tribe or ethnicity and modern citizenship, to be undertaken?

He argued that although one could turn to the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as Amended) for answers, constitutions do not enforce themselves.

Bearing in mind that provisions of any given constitution must be enforced by a duly constituted and socio-politically responsible government, Prof. Aniagolu wonders what becomes of a Constitution, if and when, those forsworn to uphold and defend it, are the very ones flouting it?Ultimately, what role does mediation or conciliation play in such a scenario?

Prof. Aniagolu concluded that the questions, more easily posed than answered, are part of the complexity and complications of the place of mediation and conciliation in Nigeria’s governance and national development.

Earlier in his welcome address at the event, the Chairman ICMC, Enugu Branch, Nze Dr. Eric Omire Oluedo, FICMC, outlined the numerous achievements of the institute. He thanked the Executive Governor of Enugu State, Dr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, for ensuring peace in Enugu State. He expressed strong believe that the alarming rate of Agitations and Insecurity in Nigeria and the world over, can be solved, without our respected security outfits firing a shot, but only through Mediation.

Governor Ugwuanyi was represented at the event by Hon. Miletus E. Eze, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Enugu State. Other dignitaries present are the Chairman Enugu State Council of Traditional Rulers, Igwe Lawrence Agubuzu, top members of the intelligence community, top state judicial officers as well as fellows and top members of ICMC including its President, Dr. Agada Elachi, FCIArb, FICMC, and the past Chairman ICMC, Enugu Branch, Dr. Uchenna Cyril Anioke.

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