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TWO-DAY NATIONAL DIALOGUE ON MANAGING FARMER-HERDER RELATIONS IN NIGERIA

By Blog, Cohesion, Event, Human Rights, PublicationNo Comments

Violent conflicts between nomadic or semi-nomadic pastoralists and sedentary farmer communities in
Nigeria have led to thousands of deaths and significant economic losses in recent years. The conflict has worsened the already protracted food crisis in the country. Land-use disputes, historically resolved through traditional dispute resolution mechanisms, have become more difficult to contain, with the increased availability of small arms and light weapons a factor. Climate change and population growth have also increased pressure on available resources, while farmer-herder relations have become increasingly politicized as ethnic and religious identities have hardened. While farmer-herder conflict now exists in every region of Nigeria, it has evolved into banditry and terrorism in parts of the northwest and north-central zones. To find lasting solutions to these conflicts, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) organised a national multi-stakeholder conference on farmer-herder conflict in Nigeria on June 7-8, 2022 with support from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and United States Institute of Peace. Participants included the Emir of Argungu, the Commissioner of Internal Security in Kaduna State, members of civil society organisations, academics and the
media.

Emir of Argungu

Among the key topics discussed during the conference were:

  1. The root causes of farmer-herder conflict, including mismanagement of land-use disputes, climate change and urbanization, the hardening of ethnic identities, corruption, a lack of opportunities for youths, and the proliferation of small arms and light weapons
  2. The local variations in farmer-herder relations across Nigeria, including the factors behind certain communities’ successful sustenance of historically peaceful relations
  3. The role of traditional institutions in managing farmer-herder relations
  4. The successes and shortcomings of government efforts to address insecurity and land-use disputes, such as the National Livestock Transformation Plan
    (NLTP)
  5. Recommendations for improving relations at the federal, state and local
    levels

THREATS TO STATE INTEGRITY AND SOCIAL COHESION IN NIGERIA

By Blog, Cohesion, Event, Fact Checks, General, Human Rights, News, Publication, RescueNo Comments

Nigeria is confronting a number of critical political and security challenges that are raising serious questions about its identity and survival as a democratic federal republic. First, there is a dramatic breakdown in security that has created a climate of disillusion in the state as a protector of citizens.

Threat to State Integrity

Secondly, there is a breakdown of social cohesion in Nigeria with stress lines emerging at the levels of the family, community and state.

Thirdly, there is a significant rise and expansion religious, fueled in part by disinformation and hate speech that circulates across traditional and social media. Fourthly, there is frustration about the country’s political and economic direction, with citizens believing the system is stymied by a reckless political class that is corrupt, self-serving and manipulative. Finally, Nigeria’s elite consensus on federalism and the federal character principle as a guarantee against group discrimination and marginalization is badly shaken.

INSECURITY IN NIGERIA

The state of insecurity in Nigeria has reached unprecedented levels. On a daily basis, well coordinated
commando-like operations by gunmen are organized against rural communities where people are kidnapped for ransom, houses burnt, and property looted. Similar attacks are also conducted against the army and
police. These attacks are now occurring in virtually all geopolitical zones in the country. According to Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara state, there are no fewer than 30,000 gunmen spread across more than 100 camps in and around his state alone. These bandits collected N970 million as ransom from the families of their kidnap victims – over 1,100 – in the eight years between 2011 and 2019. During the same period, they killed 2,619 people.

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Director General NOA, Garba Abari

CDD Joins National Orientation Agency as Training Partner for National Fact-checking Course 2

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Following on the commitment of our partner, National Orientation Agency (NOA), to train 37, 000 fact-checkers, 1000 drawn from each state of the federation, the NOA has started Course-2 of the National Fact-Checking Course. The course is designed to build on the success of the Course One by strengthening the capacity of critical stakeholders drawn from paramilitary and public-facing government parastatals.

In his opening remarks, the Director-General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Garba Abari, enjoined participants to consider the training as a call to national service. As fact-checkers, he encouraged all fake news was causing unimaginable divisions in the country. As fact-checkers, he encouraged all to be neutral in the way they approach claims they investigate and forgo biases in the interest of protecting the peace and unity of the country.

In her goodwill message to flag off the course, the Director of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Ms. Idayat Hassan, who was represented at the ceremony by CDD Senior Program Officer Austin Aigbe, traced CDD’s relationship with NOA back to the 2019 elections where both organisations joined hands to debunk widely distributed misinformation and disinformation to huge success.

Austin Aigbe, Representing Idayat Hassan at the event

Austin Aigbe, Representing Idayat Hassan at the event

She anticipated that as we approach the general election year in 2021, major political parties would once again roll out their disinformation machines to fabricate and disseminate falsehoods designed to sway voters their way. The fact-checking Course was designed to enhance the capacity of stakeholders to anticipate and debunk falsehoods.

Resource persons for this course two series were drawn from NOA, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) with support from the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, and DAFUDA, amongst others.

Webinar: Off-grid solutions to corruption in Nigeria’s electricity sector

By WEBINARS

07 September 2021, 11am to 1pm (BST)
Details on how to access this webinar will be published shortly.

About the webinar

The privatisation of Nigeria’s electricity sector has not resolved inefficiencies like legacy corruption, dysfunctional contract arrangements, inefficient transmission, and declining financial assets that have long plagued the sector. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs), accounting for 96% of businesses in Nigeria, are the most impacted by the insufficient electricity supply. In research jointly conducted by the Anti-Corruption Evidence (ACE) and the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), 35 SMEs in manufacturing clusters in South-East Nigeria (Nnewi, Aba and Onitsha) and Abuja were surveyed. About 80% of all respondents cited power supply as the greatest obstacle for their businesses, with over 40% reporting that power accounts for around 35% of their total costs. Our research finding suggests that resolving electricity constraints for this sector in the short-to-medium term portends a huge impact on the economy. This webinar aims to share the key findings of this research with electricity sector stakeholders and policymakers.

Webinar: Necessary reforms for an effective EFCC in Nigeria

By WEBINARS

14 September 2021, 11am to 1pm (BST)
Details on how to access this webinar will be published shortly.

About the webinar

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been instrumental in prosecuting corrupt leaders, businessmen and recovering stolen funds. Anti-Corruption Evidence (ACE) research found 568 corruption prosecutions were completed by EFCC between 2010 and 2015. Despite these initial successes, there are now concerns that the EFCC has evolved into a ‘debt collection agency’, which has affected their ability to serve as an anti-corruption agency. Led by SOAS University of London – with consortium partner’s including the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), the (ACE) Research Consortium published a series of research reports in 2020 evaluating the EFCC. This webinar aims to share the key findings of this research with relevant policymakers within Nigeria’s anti-corruption ecosystem to help drive the uptake of important judicial and procedural reforms and to restore public confidence in the Nigerian civil dispute settlement systems.

Related publication

 Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission: necessary reforms for an effective anti-corruption agency (Briefing Paper)

FOE Online Debate on Security and Security Development in the Sahel

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Friends of Europe in Collaboration with Centre for Democracy and Development Online Debate on Security and Security Development in the Sahel

On the 12th of May 2021, Friends of Europe, in collaboration with the Centre for Democracy and Development, held an online debate titled ‘Security and Security development in the Sahel’. The debate brought together high-level politicians and experts from Europe and Africa, including Joao Gomes Cravinho, Portuguese Minister of Defence; Fatoumata Haidara, West and Central Africa Sahel Director of Plan international; Irina Schoulgin Nyoni, Ambassador Deputy Director General and Head of Africa Department at Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Claire Raulin, French PSC Ambassador; and Irchard Razaaly, Head of West Africa at the European External Action Service.

The Context

The Sahel region has been long plagued with issues of insecurity that have seen the region transform into a haven for terrorists.  Countries along the Sahel face similar challenges: poor governance, poor economic development, rapid population growth, widespread human rights abuses and climate change that continue to impact negatively on their security.

European Union Interventions

The EU continues to support interventions across the Sahel that aim to promote peace and security. So far, the EU remains the biggest foreign donor with over 8.6bn Euros spent on security initiatives in the Sahel. The EU has also been involved in military operations, development projects, diplomatic missions and continues to support grassroots efforts. Despite this, the extent of the success of its interventions has been questioned. This has made it imperative to reevaluate the work the EU and France are doing in the Sahel.

About the debate

The online debate focused on the potential benefits of a change of strategy in a bid to have long-lasting peace and stability in the Sahel region. The discussions followed the launch of a report by Friends of Europe’s Senior Fellow and European Affairs Editor at Politico, Paul Taylor.

The report titled ‘Disentangling the peace and security landscape: Europe and the Sahel’, looked at the influence of the EU and France in the Sahel and stressed that the frequent deployment of resources from the EU to the Sahel appears to have undermined the capacity for local solutions to the region’s challenges.

The report emphasized that a ‘tough love approach’ would have greater benefit as it will aim to promote locally-driven solutions through strengthening community-led traditional peacebuilding structures. About 48% of participants all agreed that there is a need for a phased exit from the Sahel in the next 5 years. Rather than provide financial support or supporting military presence, it is best to focus on providing intelligence training for the armed forces.

Further recommendations were made as follows:

  • France and the EU must switch priorities from counter-terrorism to a pro-governance strategy
  • The EU should support national and local dialogue, including with armed rebels and work with the civil society and local communities to promote mediation
  • France should agree to a timetable for drawing down its military presence, handing over ground operations to the G5 Sahel joint force and reformed national defense and internal security forces

Don’t Force African Nations To Choose Between Superpowers – CDD Director Idayat Hassan Tells Biden

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The Director of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Idayat Hassan, on Friday, February 12, warned the Joe Biden and Kamala Harris administration to desist from forcing African countries to choose between the United States of America, China, or Russia.

Hassan said the Biden Administration must focus on strengthening its relationship with African countries and bring to the table, incentives that can be leveraged by the nations across the continent.

She also called on Africa and its leaders to take full responsibility for ameliorating the conflict ravaging the continent.

Hassan made the call while speaking at the virtual event “From Africa to the US: Recommendations for the Biden’s Administration” organized by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in collaboration with CDD, Institute of Global Dialogue, and the African Centre for the Study of the United States.

The CDD Director listed three key priorities – liberal democracy, security, and accountability –  that must be encouraged with the view to strengthen the relationship between Biden’s administration and Africa.

Speaking on liberal democracy, Hassan noted that Africa has eight serving Heads of State who have spent two decades in power in a continent where the average age is just about 19 years old.

“90% of Africa countries now practice democracy but on the same continent, there are eight leaders who have stayed in power for more than two decades. But overall, Africa has made progress with more elections and peaceful transitions” Hassan said.

She said that to promote security and democracy in Africa, there must be active engagement with the civil societies across the continent, sanctions imposed against undemocratic regimes and standardized training of military personnel.

For accountability, CDD Director said it is a well-known fact that Africa is rife with corruption.

She however said that the Magnitsky Act is critical in the plan to address human rights violations and corruption across the continent.

“When we allow impunity to grow, we also let human right violations increase,” Hassan said.

Also, speaking, Judd Devermont, Program Director, CSIS highlighted some of the moves by Biden’s administration which already affect Africa.

Devermont cited the reverse of the travel ban imposed by Donald Trump’s administration, the US rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, and Biden’s move to speak directly with the AU at the onset of the Biden/Harris term.

Giving his keynote address, the president of Malawi, Lazarus Chakwera, said the Biden administration has already demonstrated a firm cognizance of the urgency of the moment.

Evaluating the current approach used by the US to address the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Chakwera global problems take a global effort.

“It serves no purpose for any US administration to dwell on where a global crisis like Covid-19 starts from or where it ends because that kind of preoccupation only delays & derails our coming together to solve a problem that threatens all of us,” Chakwera said.

He noted that the pandemic presents an opportunity for the US and Africa to come together to address systemic inequalities caused by the disease outbreak.

According to the Malawian President, “Neither America nor Africa can afford to treat the problems of the other as to having no bearing on the interest, or progress, of the other.”

He added that it is refreshing to see that President Biden has already begun the work of rebuilding America’s alliances with Africa particularly his commitment to directly engage with leaders from the continent.

“The Biden administration is in a unique position to leverage its influence at multilateral forums and institutions to ensure that the sovereignty of African states is respected & defended,” Chakwera said.

On security, he applauds Biden’s administration for rejoining the Paris agreement, renewing the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, his support for World Health Organisation and the Centre for Disease Control.

He also called for the strengthening of human rights institutions and economically support countries that uphold rule of law and respect democratic values.

Philani Mthembu, the Executive Director of the Institute of Global Dialogue said the Biden administration should think about the expiration of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in 2025.

He said a free trade agreement between Africa and the US could be beneficial in terms of development cooperation.

While urging the US to consolidate its programs across the continent and move away from fragment projects, Mthembu said: “It is to the advantage of the United States for an integrated Africa to emerge.” 

For Bob Wekeska, the coordinator for the African Centre for the Study of the United States at the Wits University, the US should focus on direct diplomacy with the continent rather than engaging in competitive politics like countering China, others.

Wekeska said Africans are yearning for integration and the African Union should be regarded as a starting point for engaging with the continent.

“We hope that Biden and Kamala Harris administration will listen to Africa and act based on listening,” Wekeska said.

Local Learning: Ideas For Reducing Farmer-Herder Conflicts In Nigeria

By Event, Publication, Publications

The farmer-herder conflict has mutated and is now manifesting and transforming into other forms of conflicts. In Kaduna and Katsina state, the conflict has mutated into armed banditry involving cattle rustling, destruction or theft of farm crops, kidnapping and armed robbery.

For example, a traditional leader in Batsari Katsina categorically stated that “they were no longer herders in the LGA, most herders have now become bandits and cattle rustlers”

The gravity of the situation is such that the bandits operate freely and openly without checks. In Kaduna State, the farmer-herder conflict heightened between 2012 and 2013 but de-escalated between 2013 and 2019 and re-emerged with an intensity of attacks and heavy casualties in 2020.

The conflict in the state also assumed ethno-religious dimension as there is a thin line between ethnicity and religion on the one hand and ecological niches on the other.

In Benue State, the farmer-herder conflict was a frequent occurrence and there was a spike in the conflict incidences between 2014 and 2019 with the crescendo of escalation in 2018 after the state enacted the Anti Open Grazing Law which made a large number of the herders to emigrate from the state into neighbouring Nasarawa State.

The maxim wa gaa or wa usu (ranch or ruin your cattle) in Tiv language is the new norm in Benue State as attested to by Tiv farmers during a focus group discussion.

The conflict in Nasarawa between the farmers and herders can be attributed to the spillover effect of the conflict in the neighbouring Benue State Since Nasarawa is contiguous with Benue State, many the herders that were forced to leave Benue moved into Nasarawa State.

The migration of herders from Benue to border communities in Nasarawa exerted pressures on existing resources in these communities. It also heightened the conflict between farmers and herders in these communities. Ethnicity is also identified as one of the key conflict dynamics in the state. This is because the Jukun and the Alago groups from Keana have been mentioned consistently by a majority of the respondents as actors flaming the amber of the conflict so that they could have access to more farmlands.

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How I Lost My Wife, 4 Children To Flood – 50-Year-Old Man Narrates In New Documentary

By Event, News

Muhammadu Y’au

For 50-years-old butcher, Muhammadu Kabiru Zakari Y’au, the effect of corruption in Nigeria and embezzlement of the Ecological Fund translates to the loss of his entire household.

Y’au, also known as Usama narrating his life-wrenching ordeal in a documentary; Ecological Funds and the Cost of Corruption in Nigeria, virtually screened on Monday, January 25, by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) in collaboration with Action Aid Nigeria and Centre for Communication and Social Impact (CCSI), supported by Foreign Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO), said he had gone to the mosque to preach when it started raining.

“They tried calling me to no avail, I went home from the mosque and on getting to my neighbourhood, I saw the mishap caused by the rain,” Y’au said.

According to him, he had met a neighbour who told him that his wife and four kids had been washed away by the flood.

“On approaching my house, I noticed there was no house there anymore, just bare land. I was walking inside the water and the water was up to my chest level. I was going around looking for my family,” Y’au said.

Y’au said upon arrival, some of his brothers came to meet him. They started crying and he joined them in crying, still confused as they walked the community in search of his loved ones.

“We walked to the river all the way to a place near the road that leads to Bauchi. It was there we found the corpse of my daughter, later I got a call that they’ve found my wife’s body too somewhere behind the University of Jos,” he said.

The following day, more bodies were found and Y’au was called to confirm if they were his children.

He got there and recognized his children among the bodies laying on the ground. “I never found the corpse of my last child but some organisation said they found his corpse and buried him.”

“A day later, I got another call saying they found the dead bodies of my two children. When I lifted the wrapper, I recognized the bodies of Abdulamid and Hauwa’u (his two children),” an obviously broken Y’au narrates.

The story goes on and all and is the same for Francis Eriki, a retired Kogi State civil servant who used a major part of his salary and loan to build a three-bedroom apartment.

Eriki lost his life achievement – which took him six years to put together – in a flood.

Speaking on the incident, Eriki said: “The flood affected us, I lost everything.”

“All my labour in government; I took garri and kulikuli (a locally made snack) to see that that place becomes what it is. I suffered,” Eriki lamented.

The pain felt by Y’au and Eriki is as a result of the ecological challenges which could have been averted if the Ecological Funds are properly allocated and not mismanaged.

The Ecological fund is an intervention fund set up by the Nigerian Government in 1981, to tackle various environmental and ecological problems including natural disasters affecting the country.

The fund set up through the Federal Account Act, 1981, was based on the recommendation of the Okigbo Commission mandated to reduce ecological challenges nationwide to the barest minimum, facilitate quality and effective implementation of projects, judicious and equitable utilization of the fund and effective management of ecological fund projects.

The projects include flood, drought, desertification, oil spillage, pollution and general environmental pollution, storms, tornados, earthquakes, bush fires among many others.

In her opening remarks at the virtual screening of the documentary CDD’s Director, Idayat Hassan, represented by Shamsudeen Yusuf, the Centre’s Principal Programs Officer said the piece is part of the Strengthening Citizens Resistance Against Prevalence of Corruption (SCRAP-C) project implemented by CDD, Action Aid Nigerian and Centre for Communication and Social Impact, as consortium members, and implementing partners.

Yusuf said the project seeks to address social norms that would usually aid corruption to thrive in Nigeria.

“One of the ways to do this is to generate a sustained conversation around day-to-day experiences of Nigerians around corruption, particularly on how it directly or indirectly affects them, and make a consistent call for transparency and accountability in the management of public resources such as the Ecological Funds,” Yusuf said.

He said the series of investigations carried out by the Ford Foundation and the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), had shown that some of the projects carried out to solve some of the most urgent environmental challenges across the country were either shoddily done or not even done at all. These actions, he said, have caused several damages including loss of lives and property.

“In the documentary, we showcase how mismanagement and the susceptibility of the ecological funds to corruption impacts negatively on the socio-economic well-being of Nigerians,” he said.

He also said that the documentary is expected to spur conversation and strengthen accountability mechanisms for the effective utilization of the Funds for the betterment of the country.

In her contribution, representing Muhammed Umar, the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Hadiza Zubairu, said while work is ongoing, the agency appreciates the effort by CDD and her partners in bringing this aspect of corruption to the fore.

Zubairu who is EFCC’s Head, External Corporation said: It is rare because this has hardly brought to fore. The fight against corruption is a multi-stakeholders one and we at the EFCC loud the efforts to put into the documentary.”

Sam Waldock, Team Lead, Governance, and Social Stability, FCDO said: “I am very excited about this documentary because corruption can seem to be far from reality. We are really proud to support this.”

Also speaking, Ene Obi, the Country Director of Action Aid described the documentary and its details as chilling but the reality on the ground.

“We haven’t even gone to the Delta where people perch on rooftops. governance is supposed to be about taking care of the people. You have citizens who wake up in the middle of the night and can’t find their children and what do you do about it?” Obi said.

Decrying the disconnect between the government and the people being led, Obi said funds earmarked for environmental challenges have become part of the money stolen by authorities to meet their personal needs.

Speaking, a panelist, Idris Akinbajo, who is the Managing Editor of Premium Times said to tackle corruption in the management of environmental funds, citizens and the general public at large must be able to ask questions and get answers about how public funds were spent.

Akinbajo said: “There is a need to reflect on how funds allocated for environmental stewardship are managed.”

He said the secrecy surrounding the whole process is one of the major reason ecological funds is a pool of corruption. He called on the government at all levels to open their books if the fight against corruption is genuine.

“If the government is sincere about finding the problems in the ecological funds, it must publish the names of all those who have received which amount, for what and why. Dariye was convicted for stealing N2 billion, we need to show citizens that these are the real victims who were affected because he stole that money,” Idris added.

Further reeling out the Centre’s recommendation to ending the corruption in the system, CDD’s director said that there is a need to address the impunity that permeates the system.

“A system whereby public servants believe they are doing citizens a favour by releasing information. Aside from the insecurity and food security issues across the country mostly caused by activities of corrupt officials, the ripple effect of its consequences and embezzlement of the Ecological Fund is very glaring,” Hassan said.

Center for Democracy and Development West Africa| CDD West Africa

Experts Call for Improved African Representation on Climate Negotiation Table

By Event, News

As changes in climate and adverse weather conditions which have led to harsh livelihood continue to appear on the front burners of discussion, experts have called for collaboration among critical stakeholders to ensure adequate representation of the Africa continent on the climate negotiation table.

The call was made during a webinar organised by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD-West Africa) on Thursday, January 21, 2021.

The webinar themed: The Impact of Climate Change in Africa, sort to address the increasing effect of climate change especially on the low-income populations who are likely to be most affected and vulnerable to these challenges.

Moderated by a Development Consultant, Jamie Hitchen, the webinar also sort need to promote the efforts undertaken at local, national, and regional levels to adapt or mitigate climate change, as well as encourage the government to review climate change policies or increase their efforts. 

In her opening remarks, CDD’s Director, Idayat Hassan, said the Centre appreciates the moderator, panelists, and participants who have made out time to be part of the event.

Speaking on the intricacies of climate change and the challenges faced in the African continent, Saratu Abiola, the lead, Economic Inclusion – Global Humanitarian Team at Oxfam, said while climate change is a problem not necessarily caused by human, we must continue to find ways to survive it through mitigation or adaptation processes.

Noting that these processes include financing, access to technology, policies, and strategies that improve survival, Abiola said the extreme weather conditions have become a reality.

 She said: “We look at questions like; how do we adapt to the changes that we are faced with due to climate change? Do farmers know the major challenges there would face like drought and what they could do to strengthen their livelihood?”

Addressing issues of environmental policies, Abiola said Nigeria has several good policies that have not been implemented and the same thing goes for climate change.

Stating that Mali and Burkina Faso have been making efforts to develop laws that could address the challenges of climate change, Abiola said: “We (Nigeria) have forestry laws that need to be updated and of course implemented.

“Our laws on violating laws such as gas flaring for example are as old as the 1960s. The oil companies can easily pay them so they wouldn’t mind,” Abiola said.

According to Abiola, many Nigerian lawmakers are disconnected from the effects of climate change and the reality.

She said: “A lot of our lawmakers don’t live in the communities and they don’t have a connection with the people resident in these communities; even those who live there do not have an understanding that what is happening is climate change.”

Also, she said several residents of communities affected by climate change see these challenges as a phenomenon from “God”.

On financing, she said notes that it is very difficult to get climate grants or finance as a majority of the countries in West Africa have to access climate finance through loans.

“Majority of the climate available right now goes to western countries. Only about 20% of climate funding in 2019 came to Africa,” she added.

Also speaking, Hindou Ibrahim, the coordinator of the Association of Peul Women and Autochthonous People of Chad, said the most glaring impact of climate change is the drying up of the Lake Chad region.

Ibrahim said the drying up of the Lake Chad region is one of the leading causes of food insecurity, social insecurity, and crisis in the region.

Ibrahim said: “Climate impact is making people poorer. Climate change is now leading to social injustice in West Africa. Our knowledge and understanding of climate change can help us create the best adaptation for our community.”

She said an understanding of patterns and possible outcome of the weather could help in planning and storage.

“This is what I do with my organisation by putting the traditional knowledge with the technology. I do this with collaboration from the meteorological agencies,” Ibrahim said.

“In parts of West Africa, the seasons are eco-systemic. Africans need to merge African knowledge with scientific knowledge to mitigate the impact of Climate change which will involve locals who are affected by this,” she said.

Ibrahim also decried the poor representation of African countries in climate negotiations.

“We have the numbers at the meetings but the voices are not strong enough to make any difference. Most countries see climate change as an issue for the Ministry of Environment. It is not, it is a case for all because climate change affects or impact all aspect of our lives,” Ibrahim said.

She further called for collaboration among Civil Society Organisations, the media, politicians, and other critical stakeholders to accelerate survival.

We Need Ranching Policies For Herders To Adopt – Farmers’ Association

By Event, News

All Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (AFAN) on Thursday, December 10, called for the creation of ranching policies for farmers and  herders to adopt across the country.

The association made the call at a 2-day Stakeholders’ Meeting on Farmer-Herder Relations And Banditry organised by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) in partnership with the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and the Kaduna State Peace Commission (KSPC) in Kaduna State.

Speaking at the event, the chairman of AFAN, Alhaji Nuhu Aminu, said there is an urgent need to identify bandits who are posing as herders to cause mayhem in Kaduna State.

Nuhu also said: “We need to come up with ranching policies for herders to adopt.”

According to the AFAN chairman, such policy would help curb the growing crisis between herders and farmers alike.

Also speaking, CDD’s Principal Programs Officer, Shamsudeen Yusuf, who represented the Centre’s Director, Idayat Hassan, said that the stakeholders’ meeting is an avenue for all stakeholders to deliberate on the emerging concerns surrounding farmer-herder conflicts as well as the rising phenomenon of banditry in the State.

Yusuf said the meeting would also allow participants and parties involved to find solutions to improving the relationship between farmers and herders in the State.

He said: “We hope that with this meeting we can map out key areas of intervention and critical stakeholders in the conflict in order to with core issues that are central to the conflict between farmers and herders in Kaduna State.”

In his address, an expert on peacebuilding with the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Dr. Chris Kwaja, commended the CDD for the platform which brought stakeholders’ together on the farmer-herder relations.

Dr. Kwaja also commended the people of Kaduna State for their resilience in peacebuilding in the state.

He said: On behalf of the USIP I want to first commend CDD for this very important engagement and second to commend the people of Kaduna state for your resilience. Despite all you’ve faced you have contributed your own quota and everything needed in keeping the peace in the state.”

Dr. Kwaja added: “I want to commend the Commissioner, Samuel Aruwan, for being active in making efforts to ensure that people understand why there has to be peace.”

The commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs in Kaduna State, Samuel Aruwan, said stakeholders on the matter will have to look at the way how the issue farmer-herder conflict metamorphosed into the level of crisis experience in the state and the country at large.

Aruwan said it is important to put into consideration issues of cattle rustling, banditry and all., youth restiveness, drug abuse, armed robbery rape among many others.

He also said that the crisis between herders and farmers does not have any religious or ethnic undertone.

“The government’s appeal has been for all residents to have recourse to the law. if a farmer in the course of farming comes under attack, or his/her plants/crops are destroyed, the admonition is to have recourse to the law,” Aruwan said.

“The same appeal goes to the herders, if in the course of grazing they are attacked or their cattle rustled, or they become victims of any security challenges,  unfortunately, most of individuals and communities involved in these clashes often choose self-help rather than the law,” Aruwan added.

According to the commissioner, the action of taking laws into their (farmers and herders) own hands complicates the conflict, and worsens the bloodshed.

“The media narrative is also often not helpful. When armed bandits kill innocent herders and farmers while attempting to kidnap for ransom, some media will report that it is an attack by herdsmen, thereby inflaming the violence between pastoralists and their hosts,” Aruwan continued.

Continuing, Aruwan said that the state had established a commission – the Kaduna State Peace Commission – in 2017 with the objective of ensuring the monitoring, mitigation and prevention of conflicts with a view to promoting peaceful and harmonious co-existence in the state.

Efforts made by the Commission so far

Reeling out efforts made by the Kaduna State Peace Commission, its commissioner, Hajia Khadija Hawaja, said while the farmer-herder conflict has nothing to do with religion or ethnicity as noted by Aruwan, some of the issues have been escalated.

She said: “The real issue, has nothing to do with religion or ethnicity but perception. For political reasons, probably, our elites created this phenomena of farmer-herder among people who have co-existed together for centuries.”

“They have escalated it to become and international issue which we must solve locally by doing everything possible to create a peaceful environment for every one of us,” Hajia Hawaja said.

She further said the peace commission working to make sure that where there is problem all parties are brought together to dialogue and find a common ground.

According to her, in trying to resolve the issues and improve farmer-herders relations, every party involved is respected and at all times allowed to air their views and grievances.

There is distrust, relationships have been broken and because relationships are broken a Christian would not want to go where a Muslim is and vice versa and the thinking of the people is towing towards division,” She added.

She said the commission helps the people to collapse walls and bridges built overtime and create a peaceful and harmonious environment by helping the parties identify what their problems are.

Also, Usaini Ori Musa, a representative of the Ministry of Agriculture said the Kaduna State Government hopes that the grazing reserves will become the center of agropastoral innovations, a guarantor of land security, a nucleus for nomadic herders settlement among many others.

Also, Usaini Ori Musa, a representative of the Ministry of Agriculture said the Kaduna State Government hopes that the grazing reserves will become the center of agropastoral innovations, a guarantor of land security, a nucleus for nomadic herders settlement among many others.

Musa said to mitigate the farmer-herder conflict, the state government has 17 grazing reserves out of which four has been developed and gazette, while interested youths are encouraged to form cooperatives where they are trained and supported with loans and other incentives.

According to Musa, these cooperative activities help the youth remain gainfully employed and thereby reduces poverty and conflicts in the state.

Farmers/Herders: CDD To Provide Technical Support To Curb Conflict

By Event, Fact Check, News
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The Centre for Democracy and Development on Thursday, December 3, said it will give necessary technical assistance needed to curb the protracted conflict between herders and farmers across some states in Nigeria.

The Centre’s Principal Program Officer, Shamsudeen Yusuf, while speaking at State-level Stakeholders’ Meeting on the Implementation of the National Livestock Plan (NLTP) in Lafia, Nasarawa State said CDD would stop at nothing to provide all technical assistance needed to ensure peace between the farmers, herders, and residents of affected communities in the North Central States.

At the meeting organised in partnership with the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Yusuf, representing Idayat Hassan, the Director of CDD said the Centre as a development partner decided to bring major stakeholders together to find ways to resolve conflicts in three states – Benue, Nasarawa, and Plateau.

He said that the meeting will serve as an avenue for the stakeholders to brainstorm on strategic steps to take to foster peaceful co-existence between herders and farmers in the states.

According to Yusuf, the objective of the state-level stakeholders’ meeting is to support the implementation of NLTP in states affected by the conflict and bring about sustainable peace in these areas.

In his virtual address, the Special Adviser to the President on Agriculture and the National Coordinator of the NLTP, Andrew Kwasari, said  farmers’/ herders’ conflict have evolved from just mere disputes and can be attributed to climate change, ideals, visions, migrations and among others.

He also raised the need for traditional and religious leaders to be part of the peacebuilding process as they are the ones who know and interact more with the people of the communities.

Kwasari said: “When speaking on migration, traditional leaders know those who are members of their communities and those who are foreigners.”

He says leaders of communities need to work together with other stakeholders to ensure that the farmers’/herders’ conflict is mitigated.

Also, the Nasarawa State Coordinator of the NLTP, Dr. Abdullahi Musa, commended the efforts of the CDD and its partners in pushing for the implementation of the plan.

Musa appealed to the Centre to take a step forward by going into the field in some of the affected communities to seek ways of getting resident to buy into the NLTP.

Identifying major factors responsible for the Herder/farmer conflict as population explosion and global warming which has necessitate migration and leading to limited land spaces, Musa assures that through NLTP farmers and herders are fully aware of their operational boundaries as far as grazing reserve is concerned in the state.

Representing the Abdullahi Sule, the Nasarawa State governor, his Special Adviser on Civil Society Organisations and Partners, Munirat Abdullahi, said the NLTP was keyed into by seven different states across Nigeria.

Ms. Abdullahi said that Nasarawa is one of the first three states which implemented the plan with a view of finding lasting solution to the conflict between farmers and herders.

Also, a representative of the Emir of Lafia, Alhaji Ishiaka Dauda, said the emirate is happy that the Nasarawa State government is serious about finding lasting solution to the crisis between farmers and herders.

Alhaji Dauda said a peaceful environment is key to productivity.

He said: “We all like meat, our crops are from farmers and everyone eats the products from the two parties, thus the need for us to ensure we all co-habit peacefully.”

 Superintendent of Police, Jiriko Jonathan, who represented the Nasarawa State Commissioner of Police said the Police is interested in peacebuilding in the communities and state at large.

SP Jonathan said the Police have started the recruitment of officers referred to as Special Constables for the purpose of peacebuilding in areas where there are conflicts.

“These special constables are selected from the communities and the aim is to build people’s confidence. With this selection process, the people are part of the community and also part of the Nigeria Police Force,” Jonathan said.

He further called for the inclusion of the Police in activities bordering on peacebuilding and conflict resolution as such involvement helps the institution serve the people better.

In her address, the Assistant Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Eunice Ibitoye, said security agencies in Nasarawa States are saddled with the responsibility of securing the lives and property of the people of the state.

Ms. Ibitoye, who is also the Head of the Department of Peace and Conflict Resolution at the NSCDC said her department tries to remain as civil as possible as the name of the agencies imply.

She said: “In fact, for my department, which is Peace and Conflict Resolution, we barely wear uniforms like you can see me now on mufti. The essence is for us not to scare the people and for them to also see us as part of them.”

How Nigeria can address farmers’, herders’ conflict – CDD

By Event

The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) on Thursday, November 19, in Abuja, suggested that the farmers/ herders’ conflict in Nigeria and border countries can be addressed with the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP).

The Centre’s Principal Programs Officer, Yusuf Shamsudeen, said this at an Experience and Learning Conference on Farmer and Herder Conflicts in Nigeria.

The conference organised by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) in partnership with the United State Institute of Peace (USIP), the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP), and the Forum for Farmers and Herders Relations in Nigeria (FFARN) seeks to engage various stakeholders to support each other’s efforts in addressing farmer and herders conflict as well as some of the associated security challenges across Nigeria.

The conference is also expected to serve the purpose of educating Nigerians on the terms of the implementation of the NLTP and how critical stakeholders can provide support and improve on the existing plan and structures.

Yusuf, representing CDD’s Director Idayat Hassan, in a goodwill message, said the Centre is also seeking ways to closely work with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and government agencies to implement the NLTP.Yusuf said the CDD believes the NLTP is very crucial to addressing the farmer/herder conflicts across Nigeria and beyond.

He said there is a number of economic challenges confronted, like the scarcity of economic resources, water resources, and others and that adequate implementation of the NLTP will be sufficient to address most of these problems.

Yusuf said: “For instance, as CSOs, we are to provide support to the government and one of the key things which we think is quite important is for people to be aware of this because the implementation cannot be done. In the isolation of people who are the direct beneficiaries of such interventions to be totally ignorant.”

“We cannot also do that without understanding the emerging concerns to farmers’/herders’ conflict in the country. So, one of the key things is that it’s important for us to dwell more on how to bring socio-coherence among these people because they need to work together for a common aim and we cannot do that without the need to address the differences between them.” Yusuf added.

In his address, the special adviser to the president on agriculture and coordinator, NLTP, Dr. Andrew Kwasari said the essence of the meeting is to take stock of achievements and way forward in addressing conflicts in the country.

Kwasari said there are security, livelihood, and relationship issues hampering the farmers’ and herders’ conflict resolutions.

“If you deal with livelihood issues, you are also dealing with security issues and when you deal with security issues you are also addressing more fundamental issues that affect the Nigeria economy,” Kwasari said.

He also noted the major thing to do is figure out what every stakeholder is doing in terms of intervention and find a common ground outside the government and CSOs to adopt.

Dr. Chris Kwaja of the Centre for Peace and Security Studies at the Modibbo Adama University of Technology, Yola said, so far, 19 northern governors have committed to resolving conflicts between the farmers and herders in line with the NLTP.

He said the state governments found the locations they want to work within the grazing reserves to remodel it as areas for livestock production.

Kwaja said: “Almost all the governors believe in the NLTP and they know that because it allows them to implement in line with the realities of their own situations so there is no one size that fits every state.”

He said: “Every state will prioritize what is most important in addressing and developing its state from the social-economic perspective and to maintain also cohesion in society and this is very important for us because it is a flexible policy.”

In her contribution, Dr. Dayo Kusa, a senior fellow at the CDD called for training and retraining of media practitioners in reporting issues of conflict.

She said conflict reporting is a sensitive issue and should be handled as such.

Speaking on individual beliefs and dealings with parties involved, Dr. Kusa said: “Perception is everything, there is the perception that aside is favoured.”

She said small arms and light weapons are weapons of mass destruction in Africa and must be nipped in the bud.“Perception goes across to trust and once we are able to get perception right, then we have trust.”

She also called on traditional rulers’ involvement in the peacebuilding process.

According to Dr. Kusa, traditional leaders have traditional methods of mediation which can be sharpened for use in resolving these farmers’ and herders’ conflicts.

We shouldn't focus on COVID-19 but what made the pandemic look bad – CSOs

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A group of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have called for a better approach in handling various sectors of Africa’s economy.

The CSOs made the call during a virtual meeting organised by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) on Thursday, June 25, 2020.

The meeting themed, “Civil Society and COVID-19: Navigating Changes and Adapting Practices” sought ways CSOs could navigate through the Coronavirus pandemic ravaging the globe to serve local community towards achieving sustainable development and good governance.

Welcoming participants and panelists to the event, the Director of CDD, Idayat Hassan, said discussions have continued around the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic with none focused on the kind of works that the CSOs do across Africa.

Hassan said: “We’ve never had a discussion that looks at how we operate as a civil society organisation, the challenges that we are going to be facing and what we can actually do better.”

“We need to look at the civil society and how we can navigate through the challenges during this COVID-19 pandemic,” Hassan added.

Moderating the session, Professor Adebayo Olukoshi, the Director for Africa and West Asia at the Institute of Democratic and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) said this is the time for civil society organisations to go back to the drawing board and find solutions to the challenges.

Speaking at the event Innocent Chukwuma, a Director, West Africa at the Ford Foundation, decried the non-participation of African countries in the research for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Decrying the fact that countries within the African continent have not been part of the research process going on for the discovery of COVID-19 vaccine, Chukwuma queried the continent’s fate.

“Even if a vaccine is discovered tomorrow, how fast can Africans have access to it?” The human rights advocate asked.

He said: “Nations of the continent are not part of the process except for maybe, South Africa.”

Continuing, he asked: “What moral right will African countries have to demand the vaccine to get to the people when it is finally discovered?”

Chuwkuma called on civil society organisations in Nigeria to begin to do things differently as many of these organisations are going through legitimacy and accountability issues.

He added that most non-governmental organisations are struggling in this period of the pandemic because of their inability to adapt to the times COVID-19 had created.

“NGOs are struggling with adapting to structures within donor agreement especially with fixed agreements,” Chukwuma said.

According to him, CSOs need to work together to ensure that plans are mapped out to scale through the crisis period especially with, changes in policies which are the biggest challenges.

He said: “There is need to partner with local groups to cut the cost of the work that we do and again leadership is crucial in the face of changing work environment that COVID-19 has placed on us especially our female staff.”

Chukwuma said the leadership of organisations in this period must focus on making sure that employees know they understand what they (the employees) are going through.

“Groups need to engage progressive epidemiologists to explore alternative view-points to COVID-19,” Chukwuma said.

Continuing, he said: “We need to retrace and look at the CSO’s wisdom that guided us in the past 20-30 years, go beyond the capacity building, institutional training and look at the models that guide our work.”

Speaking on what the shape of leadership within the CSOs should be, Amina Salihu, a senior program officer at the MacArthur Foundation, the difficult thing to do at the moment is, what is common?

Salihu said, if everything were to be easy and governments across the continent are doing the right thing, then there would be no need for CSOs.

Stating that COVID-19 is one of the difficult things that need to be addressed, Salihu said, in times of emergency, there is always that opportunity for leaders to cease the money for with good or bad.

She called on leaders of all CSOs across Nigeria and Africa as a whole to find ways to collaborate with the government using the right tools for a difference.

“The pandemic of violence and hunger has only been exacerbated by COVID-19; we have seen an increase in human rights abuses and domestic violence as women and girls can no longer escape their abusers,” Salihu said.

She urged CSOs to arise to the occasion as catalysts of change to ensure they engage in an evidence-based analysis that would produce positive results so desired.

They should be facilitators rather than being a confiscator of agencies.

“What is our inter-generational plan? How do we reproduce ourselves?” She queried.

Salihu said CSOs must adopt tools that will encourage community participation through community-based organisations.

“CSOs need to have strong organising, authority in the context of accountability, voices of the minority need to be given a platform to rise, ” Salihu said.

In his address, Jude Ilo, the Country Officer and Head of Nigeria Office for the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) said COVID-19  presented an unprecedented opportunity for creativity.

“What COVID-19 has done is to amplify what is already in existence. We should not just focus on COVID-19 but what has made COVID-19 look this bad and demand change,” Ilo said.

He said that while CSOs are now seen as an elitists sector, organisations must learn to function beyond their comfort zones with the private sector, labour and even politicians to achieve results.

Ilo said as part of self-regulation, CSOs also need to call out themselves when people go out of what should be the norm.

COVID-19: We Must Work Together To Fight 'Fake News' – NCDC

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Following the proliferation of disinformation in Nigeria’s ecosystem, an epidemiologist at the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Abiodun Egwuenu, has called on the general public to join in the fight against ‘fake news.’

Speaking on Thursday, June 11, at a virtual conference organised by the Centre for Democracy and Development on Fighting Disinformation in a Global Pandemic, Egwuenu said rumour spread has changed over time.

Egwuenu who is also the lead for the COVID-19 Rumour Response – a team of partners including the CDD which is focused on countering disinformation in Nigeria – said false claim during this pandemic resurfaced to cause panic or conflict.

Highlighting the trends of the spread of fake news, she urged Nigerians and the general public to slow down and always check the source of information before they click or share.

Egwuenu said: “Majority of the rumour in Nigeria have been from areas and locations with a high prevalence of the COVID-19 cases.”

Advising Nigerians, she said: “When you are not sure of the facts, leave out. We already have a lot of challenges with fighting COVID-19, adding disinformation to the mix will only make things worse.”

According to her, the emergence of social media as an information tool has changed the way things – dissemination of information – used to be.

“These days what we get is a blend of a number of factual claims and one or two disinformation in it,” Egwuenu said.

She further advised the public to always double-check and verify all information from relevant sources like the NCDC, government agencies and experts before sharing.

Also, addressing NCDC’s response to COVID-19 cases across the country and the close of interstate borders, the epidemiologists explained that states are the first respondents to emergency situations.

She said the states including the Federal Capital Territory are in charge of the health security of their states.

“When we get information from the public we escalate to the states,” Egwuenu said.

She added that: “Regarding COVID-19 numbers, it is a new infection and from studies conducted globally, the number of cases ranges from 2-6 per infection, that is if they do not take the preventive measures.”

Also speaking, the special assistant to the president on digital and new media, Tolu Ogunlesi, said the lack of digital literacy has contributed to the widespread of misinformation.

Ogunlesi said there is need for the creation of awareness and training which would enable citizens to check sources of information to receive.

He also called for partnership with social media and other tech companies to improve the control systems within the eco-space.

“CSOs have an active role to play in curbing disinformation, there is a need to develop a beneficial ownership control register,” Ogunlesi said.

For the government, Ogunlesi said, it (the government) has been saddled with the responsibility of making sure that appropriate information is constantly made available to the media.

According to Ogunlesi, fact-checking must not be turned into a  task to be done only by specialized platforms but every media organisation must make efforts to fact-check all claims before going to print.

In his address, Daniel Anarudo, the advisor for information strategies at the National Democratic Institute technology is currently being used to distort information across the globe. 

Anarudo said there is a need for control and coordination of systems to address manipulation of data.

He said rather than spreading rumours and causing conflicts, technology and automated programs should be used for the public good.

Anarudo added that while “Government responses have become politicised. Hence there is a need for more transparency and openness to information to build trust.”

He also identified weak oversight management as a key challenge aiding the spread of disinformation across the globe and called for the creation of guidelines for companies and media users.

He said the guidelines will be used to promote only positive and neutral opinion which is critical to curbing disinformation and hate speech.

“Educating people on hate speech issues, critical thinking, and digital literacy will help curb the widespread of disinformation,” Anarudo added.

Edo/Ondo: We’ll not make declarations where elections are disrupted – INEC chairman talks tough

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If you don’t behave yourself during elections, we’ll go by the law – INEC Chairman goes tough on politicians

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, on Tuesday, June 9, issued a stern warning to politicians ahead of the governorship elections in Ondo and Edo States.

Professor Yakubu while speaking at a virtual event on Democracy and Elections in West Africa, organised by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington DC in collaboration with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) said INEC is committed is ensuring free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria.

The event sought to bring to the limelight, the future of democracy in the West African region.

Nigeria has governorship elections scheduled to take place in Ondo and Edo States on October 20, 2020, and September 19, 2020, respectively.

Continuing, the INEC Chairman said where an election is disrupted, the commission will not make a declaration on the outcome due to lack of adherence to guiding rules of the election.

Professor Yakubu said: “Where the election is disrupted and the commission cannot vouch for the integrity of the process, we will not go ahead to make any declaration.”

Noting that political parties have been duly noted on this, Professor Yakubu said: “You (political parties, politicians and voters) either behave for the elections to be concluded in a free and fair manner or we do what the law says.”

Professor Yakubu said there will be no point making a declaration in such situation because the commission will not endorse fraud or function outside the minimum standard set for the conduct of credible elections anywhere.

“While elections are disrupted, we should look far beyond the electoral commission. I think you put your fingers on the problem, on the political class and the security challenges. And that is why we have been engaging with them,” Professor Yakubu said.

“Yesterday, I had a meeting with the national security adviser, we are meeting with all the security agencies. But what pro-active measure is the commission going to take to ensure that if there is a replay of what happened in Bayelsa and Kogi, we will protect the integrity of the process,” he added.

Addressing challenges the commission might face in conducting an election in a Coronavirus pandemic period, Yakubu, said Nigeria with 10 bye-elections and over 6.2 million voters is determined to ensure democracy is not truncated.

“Our electoral & democratic process can’t be suspended on account of the COVID19 pandemic, ” Professor Yakubu said.

He said proper measures have been put in place to contain the possible spread of COVID-19 among voters and officials.

Listing some of the measures, the INEC Chairman said, machines used for voter authentication will be disinfected, the use of face masks and a two-meter (6 feet) physical distance between voters will be enforced while infrared thermometers will be provided in voting and collation areas.

Professor Yakubu said adequate security during the process will be put in place while officials participating in the conduct of the election will be properly trained in line with advisories and guideline listed by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

According to him, INEC will continue to relate with political parties across the country to ensure a free, credible and fair respective of the pandemic

“Nigeria is one of the most litigated against public institutions in the country. In the last one and the half years over the conduct of the general elections and party primaries, we have been dragged to court over 2000 times and it is counting, ” Professor Yakubu.

Also, on gender representation in politics, the INEC chairman said there is a zero turnout of female candidates for the scheduled elections.

 “I was looking at the number and names of candidates for the election and I didn’t see a single female, ” he said.

He further assured that the commission will continue to engage with political parties on the importance of gender balance and the conduct of primaries by these parties.

“We will continue to push for reforms even though political parties are hard to deal with in emerging democracy.” – Professor Yakubu added.

In her address, the Director of CDD, Idayat Hassan, called for sanctions against political parties and individuals who make efforts to jeopardize electoral systems in African countries.

Hassan said unruly behaviour by politicians and their supporters cannot be condoned.

Further addressing challenges the nation might experience in conducting these elections amid the Coronavirus pandemic which has ravaged the globe, Hassan said efforts must be made to ensure the process is free, fair and credible.

Also noting that these are important and already contentious elections for Nigeria and Africa as a whole, Hassan said while the Independent National Electoral Commission is doing its best within available resources, the Nigerian civil society and international partners should support the commission.

She suggests that support for INEC can be made in crisis management, combatting misinformation and dissuading bad behaviour.

“The international community must support INEC in the procurement process to reduce cost, civic education must be delivered on adherence to the guidelines by voters and political party members,” Hassan said.

Continuing CDD’s Director said: “Punishing bad behaviour will be very very key, not just visa ban for them (politicians) and their children but making strong statements to prevent any form of violence during these elections.”

Henry Prempeh, the Executive Director of CDD Ghana said the COVID-19 pandemic has compressed election in the country.

COVID-19: Road to sustainable elections in Africa

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In an event which promises to be engaging and worthwhile, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) and the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CISS) will be discussing issues of democracy today, June 9, 2020.

Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the release of safety guidelines including social distancing as major tools to contain the spread, the electoral system will by no doubt face challenges which would affect the voting process in various countries.

The event themed: “Democracy And Elections In West Africa” will allow a platform for discussions surrounding the future of democracy in Africa following the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic across the globe.

With Africa not excluded, scholars and experts from the CDD and CSIS will explore approaches and possibly sustainable recommendations which could guide the election process in the continent.

Speakers at the virtual event will include the chairman of Nigeria’s Independent and National Electoral Commission (INEC), Yakubu Mahmood; the Director of CDD, Idayat Hassan; the Director of Einaudi Centre John S. Knight, Rachel Riedl; the Executive Director of CDD-Ghana, Henry Prempeh and the Program Director for CSIS Africa, Judd Devermont.

You can watch the event live here:

CENTRE FOR DEMOCRACY AND DEVELOPMENT DISINFORMATION NEWSLETTER MAY 30, 2020

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Last week, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) fact-checked some misinformation and disinformation which spread online, especially across social media.

The fact-checks included false reports on the trending Coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria and across the globe and some of the activities in Nigeria’s Presidency.

Below are some of the information fact-checked between May 25 and 30, 2020.

Is Trending WhatsApp Message on FG’s Roadmap on Easing of Lockdown from Nigeria?

A WhatsApp broadcast claiming to be the Federal Government’s roadmap for easing the COVID-19 restrictions has been shared extensively on the platform in Nigeria. It has also been shared on some blogs and Facebook pages.

The broadcast claimed that the government’s roadmap to ease COVID-19 restrictions would be set out in five phases.

It also goes ahead to describe each of the phases, which will be on the 3-week review process.

The WhatsApp broadcast was first published as a Facebook post on May 4, 2020, by a UK-based page and has been shared more than 58,000 times, finding its way to Nigeria.

It outlines the plan to ease the Coronavirus lockdown in Ireland and not Nigeria.

The Irish government first published its plans for a phased reopening of its economy on May 1, 2020, and last updated it on May 23, 2020. 

As the WhatsApp message claims, this will occur in five phases, starting at various points between May 18 and August 10.

Parts of the message also show it does not apply to Nigeria as some of the terms used, especially sports such as GAA, rugby, bowling, and bingo, are not peculiar to Nigeria.

Read full fact check report here.

COVID-19: Is Kano’s Mega Isolation Centre operational?

On Sunday, May 23, 2020, a video made by an unidentified individual circulated on WhatsApp. The individual in the video claimed that the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano had no Coronavirus (COVID-19) patients.

Making a tour of the facility under construction, he claimed that the isolation centre had been abandoned.

He also said that citizens were being lied to by the State Government on the exact situation of the Coronavirus pandemic in Kano State.

According to the person, the data released by the Federal Government on the number of COVID-19 patients in the state is false as he claimed that there was no case of Coronavirus in Kano or Nigeria as a whole.

Checks by CDD fact-checkers show that the government has handed over the proposed isolation centre in question to the Dangote Foundation in the wake of the pandemic.

The Foundation is expected to erect a 213-bed capacity space for the isolation of positive COVID-19 cases in the state.

Reacting to the claims, the Special Adviser on media to the Kano state government, Salihu Yakasai, said isolation centre has never been commissioned for use as claimed by the man in the video.

Yakasai confirmed that the Centre was one of the isolation facilities donated by CACOVID-19 yet to be ready for use.

He said the delay in the activation of the facility is; “because they had to change the design from a normal event marquee like the one they did in Lagos to add wood panels by the sides and floor to prevent the spread of Covid-19 like they figured out was what was happening in that of Lagos.”

A statement from the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) on the matter confirmed that the isolation centre is still under construction.

The statement signed by Zouera Yousoufou, the Chief Executive Officer of Aliko Dangote Foundation, and sent to CDD fact-checkers said the video was produced in sheer mischief.

Yousoufou, who doubles as the administrator of CACOVID, said the coalition had launched its intervention in the fight against Coronavirus in Kano with the establishment of a two-tents facility as a 500-bed Isolation Center, situated at Sani Abacha Stadium, Kofar Mata, in the metropolis.


He said the coalition also provided all the needed equipment, including respirators, lab equipment, oxygen equipment, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other consumables for the facility that are presently warehoused in the Kano State Ministry of Health stores and other locations pending the completion of the construction work.

“However, given the Infection Prevention and Control Protocols required, and with advice and guidance from the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Kano State Ministry of Health, the Isolation Center in question had to be redesigned in order to effectively serve the purpose for which it was established,” Yousoufou said.
According to him, the Kano State Government advised that more centres be set up using some of the 500 beds initially procured for the Kofar Mata center.
The statement added that an ongoing redesign project at the Centre includes: introduction of donning and doffing areas at the entrance and exit points of each tent, a cleanable wall and suspended ceiling to create air-tightness, the introduction of insulation, ACs and air extractors in the wards to maintain temperature and keep a negative pressure in the wards.


“The heavy and complex redesign has taken longer than we expected, given the challenges due to the various lockdowns and related slower pace of work. Our expected handover date of the Centre will duly be communicated,” he added.
Also, a review of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) COVID-19 dashboard shows that contrary to claim by the man in the video, as of Monday, May 25, 2020, there were 919 confirmed positive cases in Kano State.

The available NCDC data also shows that Kano is the second state with the highest number of COVID-19 cases after Lagos with 3595 cases.

Read full fact check report here.

Has WHO ‘Finally’ Approved Madagascar’s COVID-19 Organics?

On May 27, 2020, fact-checkers at the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) spotted a report on a blog claiming that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has approved controversial Madagascar’s COVID-19 organics. The blog published the claim as breaking news with the headline: “WHO Finally Approves Madagascar’s Coronavirus ‘Cure”’.

Investigations by CDD fact-checkers show that the Director-General of the World Health Organization Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had a call with President Andry Rajoelina of Madagascar.
Messrs Rajoelina and Tedros, during the call, discussed ways Madagascar and the international organisation could work together on the therapeutics research and development with regards to the COVID-19 Organics.
Therapeutic trials are a kind of experiment which allows the enrollment of patients with specific treatment plans to study the impact of the drug.
Further checks by CDD also show that the WHO only agreed to sign a confidentiality clause on the formulation of the COVID-19 Organics and support clinical observation in Africa.
President Rajoelina, in a recent tweet over the agreement, said WHO and Madagascar have a successful exchange on the matter.
He said Tedros had commended the country’s effort in containing COVID-19.
Rajoelina said: “WHO will sign a confidentiality clause on the formulation of the COVID Organics and will support the clinical observations process in Africa.”
During the call, the parties did not mention anything about the approval of the use of COVID-19 Organics to treat the deadly disease.
CDD fact-checkers can confirm that at no point did the WHO approved the COVID Organics as a cure for the virus.
Read Full fact check report here.

FAKE NEWS SHOW

Please tune in to our Fake News Show airing TV Continental (TVC) on DStv, every Friday at 9 pm, as our host Frank Donga takes you through an educative episode on how Fake News spread, its impact on various sector of our society and how to curb it. #StopFakeNews

You can also forward suspicious messages for verification at +2349062910568 or contact us on twitter: @CDDWestAfrica.

COVID-19 Has Exposed Real State of Africa's Economic structures – Comrades Speak as they Honour Tajudeen, Momoh

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On Saturday, May 30, friends, associates and labour comrades virtually gathered to honour Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem and Abubakar Momoh both of whom stood for true Pan-Africanism.

Tajudeen, a writer and general secretary of the Pan-African Movement died on May 29, 2009, while Momoh passed on on the same day in 2017.

Celebrating the third and seventeenth anniversary of both icons, the governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, said this is a moment of reflection and also for the celebration of the two comrades.

Describing both Tajudeen and Momoh as people who did not just see Africa as a geographic location, Kayode said, the duo always saw solutions and possibilities amid challenges and difficulties.

The governor said that there is need for Africans to re-engage and connect with each other with the Pan-African ideology.

“COVID-19 is an opportunity for Africa more than it is adversity, it is an opportunity to reject the insularity and protectionism. We must reconnect in Pan-African politics,” Kayode said.

In her contribution, Dr Awino Okech, an academic, based at the University of London’s School of Oriental and Africa Studies (SOAS) said Africans need to be able to create multiple leaders and chiefs who would help the younger generation find focus.

According to Awino, the Coronavirus pandemic is not just an incidence but it has made the continent aware of challenges of Africa’s declining economies, health systems and poor leadership.

Further describing Tajudeen and Momoh as connectors who opened their doors to the younger ones, Professor Awino said Africans need to reconnect new social movements to progressive African academics.

“Some movements have been captured by the deep state and power merchants, we need to create political parties and structures that would reflect and project the Pan-Africanism dream, ” Dr Awino said.

In her address, Professor Funmi Olonosakin, the founder and former Director of the African Leadership Centre (ALC) said at a time like this, certain things are key.

She said these include; new ways of working, new models of leadership, organisation of the state and solidarity with the next generation.

Professor Funmi said: “Two things stand out namely: the relative silence of the African Union and the question of the leadership of the future.”

“How do we mobilise together to transform Africa?” She queried.

In addition, Horace Campbell, a professor of African-America studies and political science at the Syracuse University, New York called for the transformation of realities facing the continent including environmental justice and building shared infrastructure to transform lives across Africa.

Professor Campbell said the COVID-19 has sharpened the question of peace, development and the need tor organisation among the African people.

Professor Campbell: “There is a clear limit of military management of the international system.  We are moving into the era of a multi-polar currency world. Social justice is key.”

He called for support and upliftment of the dignity of Africans and Afro-descendants’ struggle to be human and strengthen the spirit of the people.

Also, a former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission and the senior team manager for the Africa Program of Open Society Justice Initiative, Chidi Odinkalu, said Tajudeen’s anthem was “one struggle, many fronts”.

According to Odinkalu, this implies that Pan-Africanists should never think of anyone as too irrelevant as what everyone brings to the table must be respected.

Also, decrying the state of election processes in Africa, Odinkalu said beyond intergenerational dialogue, there is a need for Pan-Africanists to consciously and deliberately work towards replacing themselves on earth.

“The silence from African Union is quite deafening; more needs to be done and we need to demand accountability from our governments in Africa, ” he said.

Odinkalu added: “COVID-19 has surfaced a crisis of regionalism and regional integration. Question is, how do we work better with AU, Regional institutions and African governments?”

COVID-19: People Who Look Like They’re Not Poor Also Need Support – Experts Tell Nigerian Government

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Considering the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and its lockdown on citizens, the Federal and State Governments have been urged to consider Nigerians from all walks of life in the nation’s social protection policy.

This call was made by Nkechi Ilochi-Omekedo, the Women’s Right Program Manager, for Action Aid on Thursday, May 28.

Nkechi who spoke at a Virtual Series organised by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) titled; “Protecting the Most Vulnerable During COVID-19: The Effect of Socioeconomic Disparities” said, those who do not look like they are poor need for some form of support.

The women’s right advocate said now is time for government at all level to rethink its governance policies and more for citizens to hold government accountable.

Recounting challenges faced during and post COVID-19, Nkechi said women and girls are worst hit as the pandemic has shown the weaknesses in Nigeria’s public structures.

“Issues concerning women have been compounded, for example, women and girls who are in abusive relationships are now confined in the same space for a long time with their abusers,” Nkechi said.

She said such issues bring to limelight challenges surrounding housing in Nigeria as the system need to be addressed to allow for a more suitable process.

Also noting that the pandemic has increased the burden of care on women and girls at the household level, the women’s right advocate said challenges associated with Wash, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) have been exposed.

“One of the primary ways of avoiding COVID-19 is washing of hands regularly with water, meaning women and girls in areas where there is no access to potable water will have to find means of fetching water daily, ” Nkechi said.

She called on government and other relevant actors in the sector to re-examine the process of making WASH services available – during and post COVID-19 pandemic.

Also speaking, Dr Dozie Okoye, an Associate Professor at Dalhousie University, Canada said more attention should be paid to urban dwellers during this COVID-19 era.

Okoye said there should plan for inclusivity in the distribution of palliatives to the Nigerian populace during this time.

Okoye, who is also a member of the Research on ImporviImproving of Education (RISE) Nigeria said: “I think that more attention needs to be paid to the urban folks in terms of palliative distribution during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown.”

According to him, most urban dwellers have been limited by the lockdown as their ability to commute to work daily have been affected.

He said the working-class citizens who largely need to commute to places where they need to work – for long our and higher prices – using public transport, now find that difficult.

Further looking at the impact of COVID-19 and the lockdown on Nigeria’s education sector, Okoye said, most students are being left behind academically.

“About half of our students are in public schools and are not even able to pass some test ordinarily, primary 6 students not being able to pass Primary 2 exams, mostly due to higher curriculum, ” Okoye said.

He added: “Now we speak of online education, most of our students do not have required devices or even internet access. There is also room for private tutoring but most an average household in Nigeria cannot afford this.”

He said Nigeria needs to work out strategies to ensure that students are not left behind because of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.

In his address, Remi Ayiede, a professor of Political Institutions, Governance, Public Policy and Administration at the University of Ibadan said there should be a sober reflection of how the country needs to develop its social system.

He said the failure to do so affects every member of society.

Ayiede said: “We need to operationalise the social protection list where everyone who has been listed as poor is captured. Some government have already started doing that which is commendable.”

He also called for a stronger approach to an even distribution of palliatives across the board and among citizens.