Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has successfully intensified the fight against the extremist group Boko Haram. Yet the country also faces resurgent militancy in the Delta, increased agitation by pro-Biafra nationalists in the Southeast, conflicts over land use in the Middle Belt, and an economic crisis triggered primarily by low oil prices. None of these problems can be solved by military force alone. USIP provides education, grants, training, and resources to help build peace in Nigeria and seeks improved governance through projects that strengthen communication between citizens and authorities.
Learn more in USIP’s fact sheet on The Current Situation in Nigeria
Next week opens a high-stakes season of risk for Africa’s demographic giant, Nigeria: the one-year countdown to a presidential election to be held amid the upheavals that have killed or displaced hundreds of thousands of people over the past decade. Nigeria’s escalated regional and local conflicts risk fueling a similar escalation in the country’s pattern of election-related violence. But hope for reducing this combined risk is visible in the work of still-young peacebuilding agencies established by several of Nigeria’s state governments. In one region, these agencies have achieved a peace accord to halt a communal conflict that burned down villages and uprooted thousands of people.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s recent trip to Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal was a major step toward re-establishing U.S. engagement on the continent, says USIP’s Makila James: “Showing up matters in Africa … it’s important to demonstrate to Africans that Africa is vital to U.S. national interests.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit this week to Nigeria is timely, for Africa’s demographic giant is shuddering with its most dangerous instability in 50 years: insurgencies, uncontrolled criminality and constrictions of freedom of expression. Nigeria is failing to fulfill basic tasks of a nation-state, and its partners need to halt “business as usual” to open an honest dialogue about the current failings. For the United States, this means dropping some old practices in the way America engages Nigerians. U.S. engagements must center more on Nigeria’s citizenry, notably the 70 percent who are younger than 35, and with Nigeria’s 36 disparate states.
The Network of Nigerian Facilitators (NNF) is a group of professional peace mediators trained and advised by USIP to mitigate and resolve local conflicts through nonviolent means in Nigeria. Since 2018, USIP has supported the NNF with the aim of preventing conflicts from escalating beyond the community level by piloting dialogue-based approaches and connecting local peacebuilders with policymakers to inform government responses to conflicts.
In recent years, peace processes — such as the track 2 intra-Afghan negotiations — have shown that on both a moral and practical level, women’s inclusion is essential. Women’s involvement in peace processes increases their likelihood of success and longevity and can increase legitimacy. While more literature on women contributing to mediation and negotiation efforts is slowly being produced, little attention is currently being paid to the already existing work of women who employ their faith and mobilize religious resources for peacebuilding.
Built upon the belief that youth bring significant and unique insight to peacebuilding, the U.S. Institute of Peace’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC) provides a mechanism through which USIP experts can benefit from youth perspectives and expertise. The YAC enables USIP staff to engage youth as partners, experts, and practioners while elevating youth voices and experience to the international level. The YAC contributes to USIP’s vision for an inclusive approach to peacebuilding. The Youth Advisory Council meets regularly to bring together youth thought leaders and peacebuilding experts committed to the Institute’s mission and activities.