Three states in Nigeria's conflict-prone Middle Belt—Plateau, Kaduna, and Adamawa—have established peace institutions in recent years. Although the young agencies have made strides toward organizing improved initiatives to quell religious, ethnic, and farmer-herder conflicts in the region, all three face daunting funding and structural challenges. This report provides recommendations for increasing the agencies’ financial stability and organizational independence, helping them build peace in their own states and serve as a model for other states to launch their own peace institutes.

Conflicts between herders, such as these Fulani men pictured in 2014, and farmers is a priority concern for Nigeria’s state-level peace agencies. (Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)
Conflicts between herders, such as these Fulani men pictured in 2014, and farmers is a priority concern for Nigeria’s state-level peace agencies. (Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)

Summary

  • Over the past five years, three states in Nigeria’s Middle Belt—Plateau, Kaduna, and Adamawa—have created peace agencies or commissions, initiated by the governors. Several other states are now considering their own.
  • These peacebuilding institutions are tasked with addressing long-standing ethno-religious and other divisions in their host states through direct mediation and other peace interventions; building early warning and early response systems for local conflicts; and, in conjunction with local governments and traditional institutions, developing grassroots conflict resolution infrastructure such as mediation and restorative justice units and processes.
  • Budgetary constraints have limited their effectiveness, and perceptions of a lack of independence from the governors’ offices have sometimes reduced their credibility, though closeness to a governor may provide needed assistance to an agency’s work. All three institutions possess important convening powers to initiate dialogue and larger peace processes.
  • Although the young institutions have faced difficult challenges, they have nonetheless exhibited early promise for stemming violence and insecurity across Nigeria, and their experiences provide important lessons for other states considering similar institutions.

About the Report

This report examines the progress of peace agencies or commissions in three Nigerian states since 2016. It finds that their convening powers and civil society networks offer important opportunities for fostering peace, as does their ability to support the peace architecture of local governments. Based on more than fifty interviews conducted between 2018 and 2021, the report was supported by the Africa Center at the United States Institute of Peace and the Bureau for Conflict Stabilization Operations at the U.S. Department of State.

About the Author

Darren Kew is associate professor and former chair of the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance and current executive director of the Center for Peace, Democracy, and Development at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He is the author of Civil Society, Conflict Resolution, and Democracy in Nigeria, which was published in 2016 by Syracuse University Press.

Related Publications

The Latest: Three Things to Know About the U.S.-Africa Security Partnership

The Latest: Three Things to Know About the U.S.-Africa Security Partnership

Thursday, June 22, 2023

By: Ambassador Makila James;  Oluwafemi Gbadebo;  Stanley Makgohlo

USIP’s African Diplomat Seminar offers newly arrived diplomats a chance to connect with the U.S. policymakers, agencies and departments working on advancing U.S.-Africa policy. Stanley Makgohlo, political counselor at the South African Embassy, and Oluwafemi Gbadebo, minister in the Nigerian Embassy, discuss how the seminar has helped their work at the nexus of peace and development and how the growing U.S.-Africa partnership can help address the challenges facing their country.

Type: Blog

Global Policy

Disengaging and Reintegrating Violent Extremists in Conflict Zones

Disengaging and Reintegrating Violent Extremists in Conflict Zones

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

By: Andrew Glazzard

Dealing with people who leave violent extremist groups has become one of the most pressing security issues of our time. Drawing on new primary research conducted by the author in Iraq, Syria, and Nigeria, and existing research on disengagement and reintegration, this report underscores the challenges of administering rehabilitation programs in conditions of chronic insecurity—and of doing so at a scale sufficient to make a difference to hundreds or even thousands of people in short order.

Type: Peaceworks

Violent Extremism

After Nigeria’s Elections: Nurturing the Seeds of Better Democracy

After Nigeria’s Elections: Nurturing the Seeds of Better Democracy

Thursday, April 13, 2023

By: Chris Kwaja

Nigeria’s latest elections heighten the country’s need for a reset of its democracy. Nigeria’s two dominant parties abandoned an informal pact that has rotated power between north and south, papering over the deeper, wider problem of ensuring real political inclusion among Nigeria’s disparate regions and communities. The recent national and state-level votes failed to deliver anguished Nigerians the promise of wider voter participation and transparent election results. Still, the campaigns and voting contained seeds for critical change that now must be cultivated by Nigeria’s newly elected government; its courageous, pro-democracy civil society; its vast, energized youth population; and its partners.

Type: Analysis

Democracy & Governance

Nigeria’s Vote Signals Risks: How Its Partners Can Support Democracy

Nigeria’s Vote Signals Risks: How Its Partners Can Support Democracy

Thursday, March 9, 2023

By: James Rupert

Nigeria’s disputed election 12 days ago is raising protest at home and concern abroad over its implications for the strength of democracy in that country and across Africa. Yesterday’s new wrinkle was the postponement of this week’s planned election for Nigerian state governors. Nigeria’s electoral commission is working to fix problems in a vote management system that failed to transparently process and report a result on February 25. An erosion of democracy’s credibility in Africa’s most populous nation would be catastrophic.

Type: Analysis

Democracy & GovernanceGlobal Elections & Conflict

View All Publications