Former Kaduna senator, Shehu Sani, has announced the opening of a non-profit centre. It is called the Africa Centre for Freedom, Peace and Development.
Mr Sani who will head the centre as the executive director made the announcement at a press conference in Abuja on Thursday.
He said the centre is a think-tank and advocacy platform that will focus on key areas of democracy, peace and development in Africa as a continent and Nigeria in particular.
The centre, according to him, will be involved in research and advocacy in key areas like democracy and political freedom, economic and social justice, peace and security as well as support for national developmental policies and programme.
The ex-lawmakers said the centre will provide the platform for resource persons, intellectuals and organisations and spirited individuals interested in promoting political freedom and democracy.
“The centre will be fully involved in performing an independent oversight on institutions that are directly related to the economic progress of the country and African continent,” he said.
“Nigeria has been facing a series of security challenges from sectarian strife to terrorism to religious and ethnic violence. We have seen a trend of insecurity that has undermined our peace and stability as citizens.
“The centre will be in sync with the aspirations of the African Union as well as ECOWAS. Issues of peace and security will be of major importance to the centre,” he said.
Mr Sani also said with the signing of the African Free Trade Zone, there is a need for advocacy by organisations and individuals. He said the centre will play a key role in ensuring that the African Free Trade Zone is not only and inter-governmental affair but is also an idea rooted in the hearts of Africans.
Other objectives of the centre, he said, will be to protect the fundamental rights of citizens and ensuring that government within the continent adhere strictly to the protocols of the AU and ECOWAS as they relate to universal freedom and rights.
The centre, he said, will also tackle environmental issues as they relate to migration. He complained that anti-human trafficking agencies in the country are grossly underfunded and depend on donations to act. “No vehicles and necessary resources to reach out to people and advocate against migration.
“We will walk towards taming the tide of irregular migration. We will work with relevant agencies of government across continents and also ECOWAS and AU to ensure that there is a reversal by open, direct and targeted campaigns aimed at discouraging human trafficking and bringing offenders to justice.
“The centre already has about 55 academics from universities across the country who voluntarily offered themselves to be part of the initiative. We will provide the necessary instruments that the government and agencies of government need to address some of the challenges Nigeria is facing.
“We cannot solve our problems without involving our neighbours in the West African sub-region. Part of the reasons why crises in the country lingered till now, has to do with the fact that there are some forces and instruments from outside of our country that in some way, have a role to play in the challenges we face as a country,” he said.
Mr Sani pledged to always involve the media in the activities of the centre and appeal for support in return.
He told PREMIUM TIMES that there was no political interest attached to the creation of the centre. Although he did not say whether the centre is funded by local or foreign organisations, he, however, said it is “willing to accept donations.”
Mr Sani represented Kaduna Central Senatorial District in the eight Senate under the platform of the All Progressives Congress.
He defected to the Peoples Redemption Party prior to the general elections in February but lost his re-election bid to Uba Sani, who presently represents the district.