In continuation of the implementation of the Civil Military Relations (CMR) project in Nigeria, the CLEEN Foundation in collaboration with Socio-economic Rights Initiative (SERI) recently organized a workshop in Enugu for South East geo-political zone stakeholders in the project. The objective of the CMR project is to build, support and sustain initiatives aimed at promoting positive civil-military relations to improve accountability, security and national cohesion in Nigeria.
The Enugu workshop was a review/validation workshop organized to give stakeholders in the South East zone the opportunity to make their input to the CMR draft road map that has been developed at the national level. Representations of military and paramilitary institutions namely the Army, Airforce, Police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps participated in the programme. Also represented were ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) such as the National Orientation Agency (NOA) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) as well as civil society organizations (CSOs).
In his opening remarks at the workshop, Ifeanyi Anyanwu, Program Officer of CLEEN Foundation stated that the workshop was a very important technical session to review the draft road map for fostering civil military relations in Nigeria developed by the CLEEN Foundation. He noted that the day’s “activity was one of the very last efforts to galvanize our thoughts together on the way forward in fostering civil military relations in Nigeria” before the product of the efforts was presented to the military leadership and also disseminated across the geo-political zones. He commended the doggedness and strong support of the various stakeholders, including the Nigerian Armed Forces and the Nigeria Police Force in the course of the implementation of the project since its inception.
Speaking further, he said the concept of Civil Military Relations has gained traction in the broader security architecture, policies and programmes of democratic societies and was now very popular not only with scholars but also with the government and the Armed Forces which now recognize it as a key element in achieving true security in the country.
He acknowledged that civil military relations in Nigeria and its guiding principles have received prominence in various national strategy and policy documents on security. The Armed Forces too, he noted, have made giant strides in its bid to open up the space for dialogue with the civil populace. Nevertheless, there was still room for improvement. Hence the need for deliberate and consistent processes of engagement to be initiated and sustained.
The second introductory remarks was made by Raymond Onyegu, President/Chief Executive Officer of Socio-economic Rights Initiative (SERI), the South East Partner of the CLEEN Foundation in the CMR project. He remarked that he has an existing relationship with the military as a lawyer retained by the Army to handle its cases. Besides he has for years been a human rights lawyer who has had to engage the military in several cases and that he was happy to be part of a platform working towards making the military and the civil populace to better understand each other and work together.