The Nigerian-American Leadership Council (NALC) concluded a successful Security Summit at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on Friday September 27, 2013.
The Summit was attended by various organizations, policy consultants, and security experts; and also professionals from the Nigerian-American Diaspora, among others with interest in Nigerian and Sub-Saharan African matters.
The Summit, with a mission to seek “Socio-economic and socio-political solutions to Militancy in Nigeria” featured empanelled experts like Jacob Zenn, West Africa Analyst for Jamestown Foundation and Consultant for US Peace Institute (USIP); Samuel Okechukwu Mbonu, Executive Director of Nigerian-American Leadership Council, and expert on Public Policy, Community Development, and Sub-Saharan Africa governance matters; Dr. Emmanuel Onyekwere, formerly Senior Executive with the Washington, DC Department of Transportation, Management Consultant, and Director at several US-based international corporations; Kayode Tani-Olu, former Foreign Service Officer and Business Executive, and others.
Jacob Zenn, a JD from Georgetown University, analyst of African and Eurasian affairs and legal adviser, with expertise in international law and best practices for civil society and freedom of association; did prior field work and research in Nigeria, Mali, Chad, Niger, Cameroon, Somalia, Kenya; among other locations.
Mr. Zenn tapped on his recent testimony before the US Congress on Islamist Militant Threats to Eurasia in February 2013,where he provided expert testimony on Nigeria for terrorism-related court trials, and consultations with think-tanks on countering violent extremism in sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia; to proffer solutions to militancy including include: 1. identifying high-tensions areas and minimizing risk while identifying allies within Muslim community; 2. Weeding out corrupt officials; 3. Formalizing the Civilian JTF; and 4. Creating a Regional approach with the surrounding ECOWAS.
Zenn expressed great concern that: “Nigeria, with a larger Muslim and Christian population than Egypt did not get high attention and policy priority from major powers before now.”
Dr. Emmanuel Onyekwere, in his remarks stressed: “Outside of a possible Boko Haram goal of Islamizing the entire Nigeria, which is not realistic, corruption in government prevents the government from having the right kind of social safety-net that could have caught the downtrodden across Nigeria, and forestall this descent into insurgency”. Onyekwere also cautioned that “the politicians should be very wary about their role in using the downtrodden to create a militancy that invariably becomes difficult to contain.
The highlight of the Summit was the call from the Executive Director of NALC, Samuel Okechukwu Mbonu, for: “ A Community Development Fund (CDF)’, developed by the Nigerian government and the private sector; which should be channeled into skills training for youth across Nigeria (with federal, state, and local government, plus private sector input).
Per Mbonu’s remarks: The Northern Nigeria part of this fund should be managed by reputable Imams in the north; thereby giving the Imams a role and direct opportunity to impact positive youth development, which prepares youth for work, and or the starting of small and medium enterprises (SME’s), not just religious indoctrination. This fund should include a stipend, while the training is on-going, and include a special grant for SME startup, upon completion of training, for those inclined to entrepreneurship.”
Mbonu who is an expert in Community Development, pursuant to his previous role as “Commissioner for Housing & Community Development” in Suburban Maryland; added that “the government of Nigeria can contact the Nigerian-American Leadership Council (NALC) for the modalities for raising and administering such a CIF.”
Other Nigerian-American experts who attended the Summit include US Navy Veteran and Homeland Security expertAdewale Adetimehin who expressed his dismay with Nigeria’s crumbling institutions including the law enforcement agencies; Adetimehin noted: The youths of Nigeria must salvage Nigeria by taking a frontal approach to stop Nigeria from disintegrating, due to insecurity and other failures;” he advised “that the youth confront the wrongs in the system and demand change from the political leadership.”
Other Diaspora Nigerians contributing to discussions include US Military Veteran, Law Enforcement and Security Professional Abayomi Afolayan, who called for “Nigerian political leadership to address practical issues like the wrought in power and infrastructure which is holding the economy down.”
Dr. Charles Mbonu, an executive with the US government also called for “support of the political class to stem the insecurity, by toning down their rhetoric; and also an aggressive enlightenment campaign for the youth, to sensitize youths that political power should not be seen as an entitlement, but rather as a development tool for the whole country, with the leaders seeking the proper consent of the governed, and not the forceful imposition of any ideology.”
NALC Advisory Board member and former Foreign Service Officer Kayode Tani-Olu lamented: “the lack of patriotism among the political leadership, which has given rise to a state of insecurity, is taking Nigeria to a precipice that could take the nation down, to the detriment of all Nigerians, including the Politicians who may not have anyone to govern in the possible eventuality of disintegration.”
The Nigerian-American Leadership Council (NALC) has in the meantime commenced plans for its next Security Summit in the “Spring” of 2014. The Council is calling on interested experts to submit letters of interest to participate in the next Summit. The next NALC Security Summit promises to be more encompassing than the last one.
About Nigerian-American Leadership Council (NALC): NALC is chartered in Washington, DC; it is an emerging Think-Tank, Policy Advisory and Research Center for Nigerian and Sub-Saharan African matters. NALC engages in various scholarly programs that include:
Advocacy for the Nigerian-American and Continental African Community; Confronting human rights abuses, indignity and racial profiling; Confronting the emerging security situation in Nigeria and the West African region; Facilitating positive interfaith religious dialogue among Nigerian Christians and Moslems; Ensuring good governance and credible elections in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa.
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