Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari has made military gains against the extremist fighters of Boko Haram. But Nigeria’s varied conflicts keep more than 2 million people displaced and weaken stability in the Lake Chad Basin and the Sahel region. Peace and security will not be achievable purely through armed force. On September 28, USIP hosted a rare gathering of eminent Nigerian civic leaders and U.S. policymakers to examine what concrete steps Nigeria and the United States can take to stabilize Africa’s demographic and economic giant.

A peaceful Nigeria is vital to long-term U.S. interests, to a reduction in the world’s refugee crisis, and to the stability of Niger, Chad, Cameroon and other nations of the Sahel. Fortunately, President Buhari’s election in 2015 marked an advance for democracy as the country’s first peaceful transition of power to an opposition candidate. U.S. policy has supported his government’s campaign to push back Boko Haram. 

In advancing a broad strategy for building peace, the September 28 conference built on months of USIP-coordinated dialogues among the governors of Nigeria’s northern states and civic leaders, including diplomats, retired civil servants, and scholars. These dialogues join government officials and civil society in shaping more inclusive policies that can help prevent violent conflict. A highlight of the event was a conversation between three of Nigeria’s most noted figures—Cardinal John Onaiyekan; Dr. Usman Bugaje, a senior advisor to the Sultan of Sokoto, the country’s most prominent Muslim leader; and Ms. Oby Ezekwesili, a former vice president for Africa at the World Bank, a former Nigerian Cabinet minister, and co-founder of the anti-corruption group Transparency International and the Bring Back Our Girls Movement. 

Continue the conversation on Twitter using #USIPNigeria.

Speakers

Nancy Lindborg
President, U.S. Institute of Peace

Ambassador Johnnie Carson
Senior Advisor, U.S. Institute of Peace

H.E. Cardinal John Onaiyekan
Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church and Former President of the Christian Association of Nigeria; Member, Nigeria Senior Working Group

Ambassador Princeton Lyman
Senior Advisor, U.S. Institute of Peace

General Martin Luther Agwai (retired)
Former Nigerian Chief of Army Staff and former commander of the combined United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur, Sudan; Member, Nigeria Senior Working Group

Thomas A. Shannon, Jr.
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Department of State

Obiageli Ezekwesili
Former Vice President of the World Bank for Africa, former Nigerian Minister,  Co-Founder of Transparency International,  and Co-Founder of the Bring Back Our Girls Movement

Sandra Clark
Director Office of West Africa Affairs, Department of State

Kingsley Moghalu
Founder and President, the Institute for Governance and Economic Transformations

Elizabeth Winger Shevock
Africa Team Leader, USAID  DCHA/OTI

Dr.  Jibrin Ibrahim
Senior Fellow, Center for Democracy and Development -West Africa; Member, Nigeria Senior Working Group

Ambassador Fatima Balla
Former Nigerian Diplomat, civil servant, and politician; Member, Nigeria Senior Working Group

Yau, Yunusa Zakari
Director, Center for Information Technology and Development, Kano, Nigeria  

Dr. Pauline Baker
President Emeritus of the Fund for Peace and Senior Advisor, Creative Associates International

Prof. Attahiru Jega
Former Chairman, Nigeria, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Member, Nigeria Senior Working Group

Dr. Usman Bugaje
Representing the Sultan of Sokoto; founding Chairman of The Network for Justice and convener of the Arewa Research and Development Initiative; Member, Nigeria Senior Working Group

Thomas Hushek
Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, U.S. Department of State

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