Strengthening Synergy between Religious Leaders and Security Operatives in Nigeria

Robin McDonough
September 3, 2023

Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Nigeria partnered with the Kukah Centre, a Nigerian-based policy-research institute, to hold a one-day dialogue to strengthen the synergy between religious leaders and security operatives in conflict-prone Kaduna State. The event, held on August 29, 2023, was attended by over 130 men, women, and youth from diverse backgrounds, including government and non-government officials, religious leaders, and security personnel.

The event emphasized the important roles that religious leaders and security personnel play in creating a peaceful environment and the need to strengthen the collaboration between the two entities. Bringing together representatives from the two groups to join people from other walks of life underscored the fact that effective peacebuilding requires support from everyone in the community.

Three religious leaders shaking hands in front of a table.
A religious leader speaking at a podium with security.
A group of people sitting at a long table discussing strengthening religious leaders and security operatives in Nigeria.

Mr. Methodius Karfe, project manager of the Kaduna Chapter of the Kukah Centre, delivered the opening remarks thanking participants and guests for attending the event. Mr. Karfe noted, “It is quite worrisome that the Northern region, which used to be the safest in the country, has in our own very eyes turned to a conflict-prone zone.” However, he remarked that through continued efforts and creating synergy, this can be turned around, and the state can be repositioned in a more positive light.

GPF Nigeria Country Director Joseph Hyab emphasized the need to mitigate identify-based conflicts by applying the values-based approaches promoted by GPF’s vision of One Family Under God. Referring to the religious leaders and security personnel, he stated that the two “do so much but get little appreciation from society, which often forgets that they are not exceptions of humanity.” 

Aboi Priscilla Kuyet of the Nigerian Security Civil Defense Corps noted that the link between the roles of religious leaders and security personnel is not always recognized, as she was unaware of their interconnectedness before attending the one-day dialogue. She endorsed continuing the dialogue to increase synergy between the two groups.

A group of religious leaders and security operatives sitting around a table at a meeting.
A group of security operatives discussing religious partnerships.

The event concluded with a discursive session led by Abdul Ahmed, the program manager of GPF Nigeria. The session covered several peacebuilding-related topics, such as the role of family values, investment by the government and individuals in industries to reduce unemployment and poverty, and the need for communities to support religious leaders and security personnel in performing their considerable duties. Coinciding with community support, religious leaders and security personnel must resolutely fulfill their roles as peacebuilders so that peaceful coexistence becomes a reality for everyone – regardless of religion or background.

The one-day dialogue Strengthening Synergy between Religious Leaders and Security Operatives in Kaduna State was regarded as a success by the sponsors, guests, and other attendees. Participants were positively impacted by the session and expressed an intent to implement various recommendations from the discussions. To enrich future conversations, a feedback mechanism was implemented to ensure that similar events will benefit from the lessons learned from the one-day dialogue.

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