Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu has advocated for improvement of social infrastructure and youth empowerment in the South East geopolitical to stimulate end to insecurity.
He said that such measures subsumed in the non kinetic approaches have not been well explored.
Kalu gave the advice when he received the Resident Program Director, International Republican Institute (IRI), Santiago Stocker who paid him a courtesy call Monday evening in Abuja.
The Deputy Speaker said that it was in a bid to end insecurity in the region that he is championing the “Peace in South East Project ( PISE) alongside his colleagues.
He said: “Let me also thank you for what you’re doing with regards to these identity crisis issues within various regions. It’s an issue but I believe that some of these crises that we have, in some areas around the country could be resolved more with non kinetic approaches. I believe that non kinetic approaches have not really being utilised to its fullness.
“But a deep dive in on the causes of all these issues, like you’ve mentioned, one is identity crisis, and finding a way to navigate around that may profile a sustainable solution to end the calling the military, the police, what are the sociological needs? Are there any sociological needs with regards to the causative factors around this issue? Did anything prompt you? Who can tell us? Is it infrastructure decay?
“In my area, where I come from, some things they are saying are we are marginalized. We are not recognized. Are we part of this identity crisis? Are we part of Nigeria? We are not part of Nigeria? Why are they asking those questions? Is it that the infrastructure is not sufficient? If you go there, you find out for yourself that infrastructure is not sufficient. This is a fact. I couldn’t travel from one town to the other for 11 hours. I met about six feet pothole on federal road, six feet on a major highway. So if you’re bringing your goods, you will not pass through three days, four days.
“It breeds frustration. It breeds confusion. It gives you a sense of alienation from the commonwealth that’s supposed to stimulate national cohesion, national loyalty. So, it depletes national loyalty. And once national loyalty is depleted, it affects national cohesion. And that is where you have the pockets of all those non-state actors. So, we should look into those areas and see what are the non kinetic area solutions to it.
“I’m happy you started this conversation. Your agency should support you, too, because it will be productive. Once you start having conversations in that regard, I also want you to support some of our programs, that is also tailored towards that.
“We have come up with a program called Peace in South East (PISE) project. This is being anchored by the members of the parliament, both House of Representatives and the Senate, especially members from that area. I founded that project, and it has the support of other members. So, what we want to do is, how do we bring in peace, not war? How do we calm the nerves of the people? Can we do that through our constituency projects, to put more facilities for our people? Do we do that through more empowerments? Do we do that through more establishment of federal government institutions around the area will lead up to come the names of the people, these are non kinetic approaches which we are using legislative intervention to see how we can push it.
“I want you to drive that conversation as well because all we are looking for is solution that will bring peace. And that is why you have peace and unity”.
Kalu however advised the non state actors fuelling and fanning the embers of insecurity to organize themselves into a political party as one formidable way of projecting their demands.
“One advice I have given to these non-state actors as well is that, instead of killing one another for an agenda that you feel should be owned by the federal government, why don’t you form yourself into a political party, and have it as your manifesto, those things you are saying political parties were not able to do? Why don’t you form yourself into a political party and then project it?
“Why don’t you come in and form a political party? If you feel the government of the day is not doing well, form a political party to advance your expressions or what you think should be done. And that is where you come in as IRI, that kind of sensitization, so that we change the socialization that is strange to us, because that is the inculturation that is happening now in the southeast that is strange to us, and is birthed by this non-state actors, but we can make a reverse, put them into a group, become a political party, advance whatever agitation you want”, Kalu said.
The Deputy Speaker also assured the IRI Director of the parliament’s resolve revisit the rejected five gender bills to engender female inclusion in the legislature.
He also expressed gratitude to the IRI for commencing gender based advocacy.
Earlier in his presentation, the Resident Program Director, Stocker said that their mission was to inform the Deputy Speaker of their interventions in conflict areas of south east, north central and north west regions of the country.
“At International Republican Institute (IRI) our work includes, election observation, empowering youth and women to be effectively involved in politics and mitigating conflicts.
“What we are focused on now is identity-based conflicts. We are working in south east, north central and north west. Our focus is to collect information from all interest groups and stakeholders that matter and understand there influence and priorities and use that information help political parties and elected officials, formulate policy and legislation to address some of these issues.
“That’s what we want to inform you as a great prominent stakeholder from the southeast, we want you to be informed and we will share our reports with you”, Stocker said.