President Buhari’s 2015 election saw the country’s first peaceful transfer of power to an opposition candidate. Elections raised hopes that some of Nigeria’s most pressing problems—including weak governance, corruption, the Boko Haram insurgency, and persistent intercommunal conflicts—could soon be under control. Despite President Buhari’s vision for reform, the country’s security challenges are surging as the factors that fuel violent conflicts remain largely unaddressed. 

USIP’S Work

USIP brings together state governors and civic leaders to design, foster, and implement inclusive policies that mitigate violence and strengthen community-oriented security. The Institute engages a variety of influential figures, empowers citizens, and uses its expertise and convening power to inform Nigeria policy in the U.S., the region, and around the world. Recent work includes:

Promoting Inclusive, Peaceful Societies.

Many of the factors driving conflict and the Boko Haram insurgency exist across Nigeria’s northern region. These include governance challenges, marginalization, and youth unemployment. Nigeria’s federal system gives governors great responsibilities to address these issues.

The Institute leverages the governors’ influence by working with them to focus policies on citizens’ needs and establish strategies that prevent and resolve violent conflict. In the process, USIP and the state governors build more inclusive processes and send the message that addressing violent extremism must be achieved cooperatively.

Through the Nigeria Working Group on Peacebuilding and Governance, the Institute adds public figures to the dialogue. The Working Group fosters relationships between citizens and governors—ensuring that a diversity of citizens’ voices impacts important decisions. The Working Group also demonstrates thought leadership through publications, research, editorials, and op-eds on state government roles in addressing conflict.

Strengthening Local Security.

USIP’s peacebuilding initiatives in Nigeria improve state-level institutions’ ability to manage local conflict by piloting dialogue-based approaches and providing recommendations and lessons learned to policymakers.

  • Network of Nigerian facilitators. USIP recruited and continues to provide technical and financial support to a cadre of facilitators to convene dialogues related to election security, transitioning to community-oriented policing, and manage communal disputes that pose a risk of violence.
  • Justice and Security Dialogue project. Modeled an approach for community policing through ongoing dialogues between police and the community, particularly youth.
  • State peacebuilding institutions. Bolstering the ability of state peacebuilding institutions in Plateau and Kaduna states to respond to local conflicts before they become violent.
  • Conducting research that translates into action. USIP’s Nigeria research improves understanding of violence’s risks and develops effective approaches to managing violent conflict.
  • Elections violence risk assessment. Together with several partners, USIP is conducting an elections violence risk assessment ahead of Nigeria’s 2019 elections to provide actionable and timely analysis that will help key figures work to prevent violence before, during, and after the elections.
  • Transitioning from military operations to civilian policing. The Institute conducted research on the transition to community-oriented policing following military-led security in northeast Nigeria. The research incorporated the perspectives and priorities of vigilante groups into recommendations for a more responsive security sector.
  • Researching resistance to violence. With USIP’s support, the Centre for Information Technology and Development examined the factors that make certain communities more resistant to the threat of violence in north-east Nigeria. The research showed that community resilience thrives when there is a robust community platform for active citizen participation and democratic decision-making. The absence of such a platform in many communities led to their quick and brutal destruction by Boko Haram.

Related Publications

Nigeria’s Worst Violence Is Not Boko Haram

Nigeria’s Worst Violence Is Not Boko Haram

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

By: Ena Dion; Isioma Kemakolam

As Nigeria works to stabilize from years of warfare in its north, the deadliest threat is not the Boko Haram extremist movement, but escalating battles between farming and herding communities over scarce land and water. Bloodshed has increased since January, as armed groups have attacked and...

Justice, Security & Rule of Law

Nigeria’s Movement for Transparency and Accountability

Nigeria’s Movement for Transparency and Accountability

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

By: Davin O'Regan; Samson Itodo

Since the demise of its military dictatorship in the late 1990s, Nigeria has made remarkable democratic progress. Still, widespread corruption bedevils the country—which in many respects presents its biggest policy challenge and its biggest threat to stability and development. Drawing on a workshop held in Abuja as well as on...

Democracy & Governance; Global Policy; Economics & Environment

The Risks of Violence in Nigeria’s 2019 Elections

The Risks of Violence in Nigeria’s 2019 Elections

Monday, September 17, 2018

By: Chris Kwaja; Oge Onubogu ; Aly Verjee

In February 2019, Nigerians go to the polls to elect the country’s next president, parliament and state governors. Nigeria’s elections have historically been tense, and as the campaign gets underway there are concerns the upcoming process will see new violence. USIP’s Chris Kwaja, Oge Onubogu and Aly Verjee discuss the significance of the vote, what has changed since the 2015 elections, and suggest what can be done to mitigate risks of violence.

Electoral Violence

Nigeria’s 2019 Elections: Change, Continuity, and the Risks to Peace

Nigeria’s 2019 Elections: Change, Continuity, and the Risks to Peace

Monday, September 17, 2018

By: Aly Verjee; Chris Kwaja; Oge Onubogu

Drawing on more than two hundred interviews conducted in March and April 2018 in eight states and the Federal Capital Territory, this Special Report identifies the emerging and shifting risks of election violence for Nigeria’s 2019 elections and provides recommendations for Nigerian authorities and international donors supporting the electoral process to help mitigate these risks.

Electoral Violence

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