Seventeen slain Nigerian patriots and heroes have finally been laid to rest with due mourning, respects, awards and promises of care to their surviving family and loved ones from government and the generality of Nigerians.

At the burial of the deceased at the Military Cemetery, Abuja, President Bola Tinubu also announced scholarships and house gifts for the children and families of the slain military personnel.

The 17 officers and men of the Nigerian Army were murdered by criminals of the riverine community on March 14, 2024, while on a peace mission to warring Okuama and Okoloba communities in Delta State.

Our departed heroes were clearly victims of a situation which was no fault of theirs and beyond their control. Good a thing the authorities are hot on the trail of the criminals and have published names and photos of some of the suspects.

That said, Nigeria must take lessons from this and other similar unfortunate incidents.

The Niger Delta is a peculiar place. It is the place from which Nigeria generates the bulk of its national wealth. It is also plagued by conflicts, tensions and rifts, arising mainly from the exploration and exploitation of crude oil and the sensitivities, claims and expectations of an assortment of stakeholders.

There are also issues around environmental degradation, humongous theft of crude oil, bunkering, militancy, gaps in education and skills acquisition in the local communities and other security, social and economic challenges.

Nigerians have been inundated for decades with sad and unsavoury and seemingly intractable tales from the Niger Delta.

International conflict resolution groups have suggested over time that a durable peace in the Niger Delta can be built on good governance and political participation, human security, wellbeing and development, protecting the environment, and securing livelihoods.

They further attest that these solutions will require the involvement and participation of all of society, including government, civil society, local communities and their leaders, as well as oil companies and other corporates.

They then suggest 10 guides to conflict sensitive development for the Niger Delta. These include being mindful of the region’s vulnerability to a long history of conflict, underdevelopment, political marginalisation, and environmental harm.

Related News

A need to focus on local priorities, accelerated development, safety from crime, political rights, environmental protection, and opportunities for employment is also listed.

It is further stated that maintaining dialogue with all types of local groups and listening to their separate expectations, opinions and concerns will come in handy.

Other solutions, it is said, include necessarily putting people in charge of their own futures through initiatives that are locally driven, managed, and monitored.

For every future intervention, it is said should be based on an assessment of the potential to exacerbate or mitigate local conflict dynamics, while care should be taken to avoid creating “winners” and “losers.”

Conflict mitigation should further be linked to development strategies and aim to make peace a development outcome rather than a pre-condition for engagement or assistance.

A pooling of the risks of development investment should be undertaken by seeking reliable and committed partners in government, civil society, communities and the private sector.

There should further be an encouragement of responsible corporate practices toward people and the environment in line with international performance standards.

The importance of promoting security and peace by upgrading the public relations skills of local police and armed service personnel and linking them to community peace building institutions is also highlighted.

Government and other stakeholders are then advised to strive to be flexible, but remain focused and persistent.

By supporting and applying these methods of conflict-sensitive planning, all friends of the Niger Delta can contribute to a durable peace that becomes an outcome of collective efforts for regional development and their crowning achievement, it is said.