An impediment to Mediation

Note on how to cite this journal:

Author, Date of the post, WMO Conflict Insight, Title of the post,  ISSN: 2628-6998, 

This study focused on instituting a systematic mediation process in addressing the stand-off between the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Nigerian government. The rationale of the study was to create a deliberate awareness that will help the country navigate a systematic approach to resolve conflicts that could arise in the future. The study undertakes an analytical inquiry, through desk review into the possible options that could be considered. Drawing from the findings made, the need to engage a comprehensive framework to process conflict cases and journey through them is proffered.


On 8, August 2019, the former Deputy Senate President of Nigeria, Ike Ekweremadu, was attacked by the members of IPOB on his way for the second Igbo Cultural Festival in Iri Ji Nuremberg, Germany. The group claimed that he was instrumental in instigating the government to send in the military operations to attack the members of IPOB. This response only followed the number of serial confrontations the government had with the group. The rise of IPOB has been linked to the first conflict that broke out in 1967, between the Nigerian state and Biafra that lasted three years (1967-1970). The declaration of the Republic of Biafra was premised on the promise that the Nigerian state could not guarantee the security of the Igbos and other easterners, especially in the north (Duruji 2012, 535-536).


The remnants of Biafra gave birth to the baby popularly called IPOB – Indigenous People of Biafra. Its re-emergence for self-determination cannot be disconnected from the developments in post-war Nigeria. The post-war leaders of Nigeria needed to fulfill their commitment to end corruption, anti-democratic governance style, political and socio-economic marginalisation, ethnic intolerance, widespread poverty, mass unemployment, insecurities, national treasury looting, money laundering, electoral manipulation, weak institutions, and corrupt justice systems (Taiwo 2017, 54).

IPOB was remade around the 2000s but made national news headlines as Biafra proponents secessionist group in 2015, led by Nnamdi Kanu. It found its motivation through the resurgence of ethnic rivalry, tussles and killings across the country by Fulani herdsmen, known to have had their origins from the northern part of the country (Taiwo 2017, 55). The herdsmen within the few years have encroached into territories beyond the north, unjustly killing many people without any action by the present government who has refused to caution them to renounce their onslaught.

Consequently, IPOBs agitation would seem legal following the UN charter that guarantees indigenous people the right of self-determination, non-violently. since then, IPOB has been accused by the Nigerian government for steering conflict and conducting itself violently. The Nigerian government proscribed it as a terrorist group against popular opinion while refusing to declare Fulani herdsmen as a terrorist group despite its unrelenting killings across the country as different schools of thought have expressed.


A number of the instruments at the international level, like the International Center for Ethno-Religious Mediation (ICERM), United Nations Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (UNPPA), the African Union Mediation Unit (AUMU), are not symbolic structures, but practical instruments that could help to attend to issues before they breakdown. While we do not justify the violence exhibited by members of IPOB, mediation does not happen by imagination, governments must employ sufficient assistance, with the help of experts to douse the tensions and position-based arguments or agitations to interest-based approaches. The clamping down on media, the indiscriminate arrest of IPOB members, and its leaders are not civil approaches that represent the dignity of a holistic approach. The UN approach of inclusivity, consent among others should help governments prepare to understand the root causes of the agitation, which often are not unfounded in the visualisation of the needs of the group that were ignored for a long time. By now, the government should have modeled many of her interventions around the framework of well-established mediating institutions, once they are suppressed, they resurface at a later time with unimaginable proportion.


The practice of reactionary machinery that has characterised many challenges will only leave the country more desolate. The country needs to move away from the resolve of force and military strength as Eliasson reminds us that, in today’s world, strength is economic strength, well-distributed; strength is social cohesion according to my values, equal values of everybody. Nations will be judged by how they deal with the vulnerable and weak.


Duruji, Moses Metumara. “Two Nigerian Ethnonationality Movements: A Comparison of the

OPC and MASSOB,” Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, 12(2012): 534-549.

Eliasson, Jan. Peace-making under the United Nations Flag: Reflections on a Quarter Century of Mediation. Assessed October 5, 2019.

Taiwo, Bello. “No Peace Ahead?: Biafra Chanters and the Nation on a Brink,” The

International Journal of Humanities and Social Studies, 5 (2017): 54-62.

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5 Responses

  1. Dear Stephen,

    thank you for your report. Based on our conversations, I would like to briefly get back to a very fundamental point, namely basic school education. Do we have data on the level of regional basic education, and would you assume that the path the conflict took and takes, might look different if the corresponding numbers regarding school education would differ?

    Best regards, Daniel Erdmann

    1. Dear Pr. Erdmann,
      Thank you for the encouragement. I could generate a data in that regard, this is the only way we could assess the ongoing educational weakness. Drawing from the events in Nigeria, in the past and present, the system has not set up appropriate mechanism to address the challenges facing it. For example, in the west, countries are battling wildfire and other climate outbreaks. Nigeria is not instituting a system to address impending challenges should they arise. Common domestic fires take us by surprise. The conflict would have been different should school education gone differently. Namely: The constitution of the country allows for an education system that meets acceptable norms, however, most of the schools adopted sharia teachings. This resonated evidently in the comment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria when he asked that Arabic language be taught in our schools and that the constitution be amended to accommodate the pecularities of sharia law ( Secondly, the use of English language is perceived as strange to their native culture. The Hausa language common used, It excludes the children from civil communication. Thirdly, the criteria of selection of teachers is based on religious identity. Christian teachers were largely not employed. These are some issues among others. These factors fed into the circle of the conflict.
      Best regards,

  2. The African Online Journal (vol 4, 17 October 2010)reports that causes of conflicts in Africa are; amongst others
    -arbitrary borders created by colonial powers
    -heterogeneous composition of African states
    -inept political leadership
    -negative effect of external debt burden
    -poverty(due to unemployment and poor level of education)

    I believe that dealing with the root causes of the conflict could eradicate most of the tribal wars that we tend to experience in our African states. We need a committed and sincere leadership that gives fair and equal treatment to all ethnic groups, ensuring an even distribution of resources to protect the fundamental right of every individual.
    In most instances, the people who partake in the tribal conflicts are the non-working, non-educated middle age group living in the villages. Given something gainful to do (employment,education) for themselves, these people would not have the time to engage in conflicts.

    1. Dear Pamela,

      thank you for this information. The group that you named in your comment seems to be the one that is easily to mislead and to use for non-noble activities. Unfortunately, it is profit generating ambition of influencers who take advantage of such circumstances, like unemployment, etc. Our colleague, Stephen Akpe, once delivered some very helpful information, namely how some village schools in northern Nigeria started to teach in a local dialect only. That means that children did not learn English, Yoruba, … but ended up being totally under the biased control of local rulers.

      BR, Daniel

  3. Thank you, Pamela and Prof. Erdmann, for the contributions. Rightly said. Africa has had a heritage of ancient animosities. African leaders will have to give the lead. This was the call of Kofi Annan and Mousaviadeh in their book, Interventions: A Life in War and Peace. Prof. Erdmann captured it when he said that in Nigeria education is communicated in languages that exclude the children from formal education. You would have noticed that most of the abducted schoolgirls in the north-east spoke in native languages, with the interpretation in English given.

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