The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, has blamed the failure to end the Boko Haram war on “poor management” of strategy on the part of the military and other international humanitarian agencies working in North-east Nigeria.
Mrs Umar-Farouq said this at the opening of a 3-days international workshop on civil-security cooperation holding in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
The minister said though all the relevant stakeholders have put in their best to ensure the decade long war comes to an end, lack of “civil-security relations have continued to frustrate and plunge successes being recorded.”
Ms Umar-Farouq recalled that the recent banning of two international non-governmental agencies, Action Against Hunger and Mercy Corps, by the Nigeria military was a function of lack of proper synergy amongst the key actors at the frontline.
Mercy Corps and Action Against Hunger have since resumed work this week following the temporary lifting of the ban by the Nigerian government last week.
The two outfits were accused by the military of “aiding and abetting” the activities of the Boko Haram.
Speaking at the opening of the workshop on Wednesday, the minister said: “It is apparent that where civil-security relations are poorly managed, humanitarian action may inadvertently compound other security problems.”
“It has become obvious that it is increasingly more difficult for humanitarian organisations to operate independently in humanitarian environments.”
She said the presence of security operatives in many of the crisis-ridden areas make those communities safe and accessible for humanitarian actors to carry out their activities.
“Therefore, the need to ensure cordial and constructive relations between civil and security actors cannot be overemphasised.”
The minister said existing disparities in the guiding principles and rules of engagement of the military, security agencies and the international organisations “have been the bane of productive co-existence in the North-east.”
“These differences often lead to an adversarial relationship fraught with mistrust and misperception.
“These misunderstandings led to the banning of two INGOs by the military in August 2019. As we are aware the ban has been temporarily lifted.”
Ms Umar-Farouq said the workshop would help smoothen the rough edges that exist amongst the parties.
Meanwhile, the minister of defence, Bashir Magashi, who represented the president, commended the humanitarian ministry for organising the workshop.
The minister observed that the relationship between humanitarian and security actors is always fraught with suspicion in many theatres of conflict globally.
“In the North-east of Nigeria, the tension between the CSOs and the security apparatus deteriorated into a full-blown impasse this year, which ultimately resulted in the suspension of activities of some INGOs by Operation Lafiya Dole Theater Command. These challenges have had an adverse effect on humanitarian response,” he said.
Mr Magashi added that it was the strained relationship that necessitated “an urgent need to develop a Civil Security Cooperation (CISEC) framework for Humanitarian Interventions in the North East.”
“Hence, our gathering here today is to strategize and stress the importance of fostering a better relationship between the military, para-military and the other humanitarian actors in the face of the crisis in the North-east.”
Governor of Borno, Babagana Zulum, and the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator, Edward Kallon, earlier both talked about the increasing activities of Boko Haram and how it has affected a large number of persons in the state.
Mr Kallon, in a keynote address, said the conflict has worsened with insurgents blocking access to over 1.2 million people in dire need of life-saving assistance.