Mr. Kolawole Olatosimi, the newly appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors for the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), has pledged to continue advocating for peace and conflict resolution in the country by reinforcing peacebuilding structures. This commitment was articulated following the inauguration ceremony at the WENAP 2023 General Assembly in Abuja, themed “Strengthening Peacebuilding Structures: Towards an Enhanced State-Citizens Relations in Nigeria.”
Taking over from Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, Olatosimi expressed concern about the escalating resource-based, ethnic, and sectarian conflicts, criminality, banditry, and growing violent extremism in the North Central and North-West zones of the country, leading to increased insecurity.
Participants at the General Assembly recognized that various initiatives addressing the complex causes of violence and community and security responses to triggers were often fragmented and, at times, ineffective. They identified challenges such as slow responses, poor coordination, top-down mandates limiting community ownership, and weak dispute resolution skills among responders in existing early warning and early response systems. Additionally, there was a noted lack of political and financial investment, and leadership structures tended to exclude women and youth.
The General Assembly resolved to conduct orientations for new members, reviewing and signing all WANEP Nigeria policies by the Board of Directors. The board and trustees committed to ensuring a smooth leadership transition from Mercy Corps to WANEP on the USAID-funded PARTNER Project.
Former Board of Director Chair, Akiyode-Afolabi, commended Dr. Bridget Osakwe, the National Network Coordinator of WANEP Nigeria, for her leadership and dedication to the organization. Reflecting on the progress made during her tenure, Akiyode-Afolabi highlighted WANEP’s evolution into the leading peacebuilding organization in Nigeria, with achievements such as direct funding status from USAID, the opening of an office in Abuja, and significant successes in conflict prevention and peacebuilding. However, she emphasized the ongoing need for increased membership, capacity building, and resource mobilization.