The Niger Delta legacy engagement set out to reduce acts of violence and increase the likelihood for a more peaceful future in the region.
A tangled web of factors underlie the Niger Delta’s propensity for violence. Poor governance, inescapable poverty, environmental degradation and inadequate public services have all contributed to the increasing securitisation of the region. Disillusioned and desperate, the Niger Delta has become militarised, with citizens resorting to illicit activities to survive, including attacks on oil installations, illegal oil bunkering and kidnapping. In the absence of effective channels to communicate grievances, tensions manifest themselves in intra- and inter-community conflict.
“I believe the root causes of violence could be tackled by more employment opportunities in our communities, as unemployment makes many desperate youths resort to theft.” Richard Clinton, Community Facilitator Trained By The Niger Delta Legacy Engagement As the 2015 National Presidential Election approached, there was fear that the volatility of the region would destabilise any attempt to deliver free and fair elections.Richard Clinton, Community Facilitator Trained By The
Niger Delta Legacy Engagement
Designed to address the root drivers of conflict, the Engagement’s focus was on changing the attitudes of individual citizens. A preference for peace cannot be bestowed upon an individual, it must be self-generated.
“If youths are given the opportunity to express themselves in other ways, this will prevent them from venting their anger through violence.”Israel Umukoro, Trained As A Community Facilitator By The Niger Delta Legacy Engagement
The Engagement prioritised the youth population of the Delta. Youth who grow up around conflict are highly susceptible to militarisation, they grow accustomed to ways of violence. Lack of access to livelihood, taking away immediate means for survival, adds a trigger cause for the turn to militancy. In addition, youth involvement in conflict prevention and resolution is pivotal to delivering sustainable peace. Young people are powerful agents of change, their participation in the community promotes wider civic engagement.
So, The Niger Delta Legacy Engagement aimed to reduce the risk of violence by mobilising widespread support for non-violence; training youth to become positive role models at community level; and strengthening channels of advocacy for citizens to communicate with government and leaders.
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