By Sumaila Ogbaje
Stakeholders in security and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have called for a balance between national security and civic space to avoid friction.
They made the call at a conference on the Intersection of National Security and the Civic Space in Nigeria organised by Whiteink Institute for Strategy Education and Research (WISER) on Thursday in Abuja.
The conference was organised in collaboration with the Nigerian Army Resource Centre (NARC) and with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).
The conference is to explore ways of encouraging and improving the relationship between the state institutions and civil society.
The President and Founder of WISER, retired Brig.-Gen. Saleh Bala, said the conference was also designed to promote physical interaction to generate cooperation and collaboration among the key actors.
He said that Nigeria’s social media space had become a place where people expressed hates, prejudices and division.
According to him, the purpose and end state of the conference is to provide additional fora in the effort to improve interaction, understanding and knowledge of the culture of the two critical sectors of this society.
The Head, Nigeria Office for OSIWA, Mr Jude Ilo, said that there existed a friction between the military and the civil society that would not mean that the two were enemies.
Ilo said that the relationship between the military and the civic space had remained frost, owing to the fact that there was no clear distinction between regime security and national security.
A panellist and Director, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Dr Jibrin Ibrahim, said that downplaying religion and ethnicity would help to restore peace to the nation.
Ibrahim also stated that good governance and respect for the rule of law was needed for peace, adding that the state existed for the welfare of the citizens,
According to him, the crisis the Nigerian state is confronting today is that of the meaning of democracy and dividends of democracy.
Another Panellist and Senior Research Fellow, Nigerian Army Resource Centre, retired Maj.-Gen. E.G Ode, said that there was need to strike a balance regarding the motives of individual civil society.
The Chairman of the panel, Prof. Christopher Ogbogbo, said that the deployment of the military to the public space was occasioned by lack of adequately trained and equipped police personnel.
Ogbogbo said that the nature of training that was given to the military personnel did not equip them adequately to have smooth interaction with the civil populace.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the conference was attended by members of the armed forces, other security agencies and CSOs. (NAN)