By Sumaila Ogbaje
The National Security Adviser (NSA), Malam Nuhu Ribadu, has called for support and collaboration of all stakeholders in the efforts to rid Nigeria of illicit flow of small arms and light weapons.
Ribadu, represented by his Special Adviser, Special Duties, Amb. Mohammed Ahmed, made the call at a roundtable on the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons in Nigeria, on Thursday in Abuja.
The roundtable with the theme, “Mapping the Landscape of SALW Proliferation in Nigeria: Gaps and Opportunities”, was organised by the National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (NCCSALW), and Mines Advisory Group.
The NSA said the proliferation of small arms and light weapons undermines security, hampers progress and erodes the very foundation of society.
According to him, it is a challenge that no single entity can combat alone, hence, the support and collaboration of all stakeholders are not just beneficial but essential.
“As we engage in discussions today, let us be guided by the urgency of our mission and the knowledge that the success of the NCCSALW is intrinsically linked to the security and prosperity of our society as a whole.
“Each perspective shared, each commitment made, and each partnership forged here is a reminder of previous commitments and will serve as a building block towards a robust and resilient framework for small arms and light weapons control.
“I urge you, esteemed partners, to lend your support wholeheartedly.
“Whether it is through policy advocacy, resource allocation or operational collaboration, your contribution is a lifeline that will empower the Centre to achieve its mandate,” he said.
The National Coordinator of NCCSALW, retired Maj.-Gen. Abba Dikko, said the roundtable was a testament to the collective resolve of the Nigerian Government, international partners and civil society organisations to overcome the challenges posed by illicit arms within Nigeria’s borders and beyond.
Dikko said the centre had since establishment in May 2021, being unwavering in its mandate to secure the nation against the threats posed by unregulated arms.
He said their efforts had been geared towards fostering synergy among line ministries, departments and agencies, and fortifying partnerships with reputable national and international stakeholders, as well as Civil Society Organisations.
These collaborations, according to him, are crucial, as the complexities of SALW proliferation demands concerted and unified approach.
He said the theme of the roundtable reflected their commitment to not only understanding the extent of the challenge but also identifying and leveraging opportunities for impactful interventions.
“We aim to elevate the discourse on SALW management and control, and to galvanize broad-based support for our ongoing efforts to ensure an illicit-arms-free Nigeria.
“We seek to enhance collaboration with national and international stakeholders, to provide a platform for meaningful interaction, and to explore opportunities for capacity building and technical assistance.
“These objectives align with our strategic goal of eradicating the scourge of illicit arms, thereby safeguarding our nation’s security and facilitating the socio-economic development that our people rightly deserve.
“Key future strategies pivotal to this mission include enhancing personnel skills through targeted training in security management and disarmament.
“We are also planning an advanced ICT setup for a national database of SALW to unify and streamline inventory management,” he said.
The coordinator also called for strengthening collaboration with stakeholders for advocacy and awareness, alongside ongoing capacity-building initiatives at various levels to ensure they remain at the forefront of SALW regulations and practices.
He added that a crucial step forward would be the presidential assent to the Centre’s Bill, which was anticipated to provide the legal authority necessary for better operational effectiveness.
On her part, the Regional Programme Manager, Gulf of Guinea for Mines Advisory Group (MAG), Laurie Druelle, said the event represented a significant step in their collective commitment to addressing a matter of great importance for Nigeria.
Druelle said that the proliferation of SALW had continued to pose direct threat to the lives of civilians and communities in Nigeria as well as the overall prosperity of the nation.
According to her, in spite of the considerable efforts put in place by government and security forces, access to resources and basic services remain challenged by armed violence in many areas of the country.
“Indeed, the access to, the circulation, and the ownership of illegal weapons is enabling some actors to gain power and resources over others.
“This inequity is further increasing pre-existing grievances between groups and in turn, is generating more conflicts.
“For MAG, small arms and light weapons are indeed instruments of violence but are not the standalone cause of violence.
“As such, armed violence should be addressed holistically. This means that securitisation efforts should be linked to efforts which seek to reduce inequalities altogether.
“There should be increased access to services, resources and infrastructure in an inclusive manner, as well as by promoting peaceful dialogue and building trust between communities and representatives of the security sector,” she said.
Druelle said the organisation had in collaboration with NCCSALW trained more than 400 security sector staff on weapons and ammunition management, in line with international standards.
She added that they had also destroyed more than 3,000 weapons and built or rehabilitated 19 key infrastructures such as armories, across the country. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Maharazu Ahmed