recently, the African Peacebuilding Network (APN) of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), New York, USA, collaborated with the Federal University of Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE), to train some African lecturers on research development. This was carried out through a three-day workshop held at the premises of the university. It was part of the memorandum of understanding signed by APN of SSRC and FUOYE on development of Africa.
University lecturers were brought together to participate in the workshop, which featured trainings on research development on peacebuilding as offered by experts. Participants were from Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
Cyril Obi, Project Director, APN of SSRC, spoke with Daily Sun: “The core objectives of the APN are to support African researches on conflict-affected countries and neighboring regions of the continent, as well as the integration of African knowledge into global policy communities. It gives grants to African researchers and does a lot of publicity and dissemination of research findings.
“We take images of the work and put it on the Internet. We support independent African research and makes it accessible to key policymakers. The APN accomplishes this by facilitating the transformation of the quality and scale of African research and consolidating the contributions of African researchers and analysts, thereby connecting them with other African scholars, policy analysts, practitioners, and networks focusing on issues of peace building, as well as with other policymaking communities around the world.
“The essence of the programme is a proposal development training workshop targeted at young researchers with PhDs teaching in African universities as well as practitioners working in research organisations and civil society organisations. This workshop is for West African scholars and practitioners. The participants are from Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
“The whole essence is to bring in colleagues with interest in research that will work with our experts to help them improve the quality of their research so that they can compete internationally to win grants that will support the kind of work they want to do hoping their work will impart positively on policies and practices in our sub-region.
“Most academics are good at writing proposals for doctorate and masters thesis but this kind of proposal are specially tailored for research grants in peace building, which are very competitive. An average grant is about $15,000. So we support and train them to win this grant. In this case, the proposal is tailored towards grant on research on peace building. It is a subject that is rather broad and relatively new in our part of the world.
“We expect to have developed better skills in writing development proposals not just for APN but for other international organisations that have similar grants. At the end of the programme they will have better skills. It will also give them the opportunity to network with their colleagues from other countries.
“When someone remains in a location, he thinks the problem he is facing happens only in his country but when he listens to others from other countries, he would find out that they share similar problems. The fact that you share common research interest is something that helps to bond and consolidate network of African researchers. We want them to meet themselves and may then decide to form a consortium of reserachers and get bigger grants.
“We also bring them in contact with some of the best researchers from across the world – well accomplished African researchers in the diaspora. They have the opportunity of meeting people that will help them to horn their skills and tell them where the opportunities are. This is helping to nurture the next generation of social scientists.
“Our research grants are not only for academics but also include practitioners. By training, academic are trained to produce knowledge. It is knowledge based in a particular methodology. Evidenced based research is very important for problem solving. It is a research that speaks to policy makers and practitioners who ultimately will have the responsibility to implement the results of the researches.”
Dean, Faculty of Social Science, Bowen University, Iwo, Osun State. Prof John Ayoade, who spoke on “The Challenge of Peace and Security in Times of Economic Recession: The Nigerian Experience,” warned that personal information provided on the social media could be exploited by kidnappers to get their targets.
He said Instagram, Facebook, Whatsapp and email have become sources of required information and those who are unwary expose themselves: “The qualification for kidnapping is the ability to pay huge ransom. Information is required for a successful operation and the recent communication explosion has aided the nefarious act.”
He stated that the objective of Boko Haram was territorial control, adding that religion was only used as a camouflage: “While the militants fight for rights, justice and equity, Maitatsine and Boko Haram advanced a sectarian position. It was clear in the case of Boko Haram that the goal was territorial and religion was a camouflage for territorial ambition.
“Boko Haram argues that Western education was a sin without proposing a viable alternative. Its tactics and strategy also contain elements of weakness. It bombed churches and mosques thus violating Islamic laws that make non-combatants immune from attack and protect Muslims from attacks by fellow Muslims.”
Ayoade stressed that the reaction of the Niger Delta militants from Isaac Boro to date and the agitation for secession by the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) threatened the survival of the Nigerian state:
“All of these insurrections take advantage of the domestic weakness of the state. The state has a compulsory hold on citizens and when that hold loosens by acts of commission or omission, citizens who have reasons, genuine or otherwise, resort to self-help. It is the natural opportunistic moment.
“The Niger Delta crisis is a product of illogical neglect resulting in on-going illogicality of demands. Curiously the ancient Nigerian Mineral Act allocates the ownership of all minerals on land and below to the government. The law is an example of the greed of modern state.
“The reality of modern statehood is that bad news must still be obeyed until those laws are changed. Violation of a bad law is an offence just as the violation of a good law. Bad laws are either changed by persuasion and due process or by violent means outside the realm of law. Whenever the second option is adopted, the law will take its toll because it is a challenge to the sovereignty of the state.
“By the nature of insurgencies which have no central command, every fighter tends to become a general still fighting on. Chinese Communists fought for 28 years, Vietnamese Communists for 30 years and Sandinistas for 18 years. So it is not yet Uhuru from Boko Haram.”