Founding President of African Foundation for Peace and Love Initiatives, Rev. Dr. Titus K. Oyeyemi has advised the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof Yemi Osibanjo, and other presidential committee members on the proliferation of small arms to ensure transparency and inclusion of all state actors in ridding Nigeria of small arms.
Oyeyemi said this in an open letter to the Vice President made available to newsmen yesterday in Lagos, said that nothing proliferates the propensities for violence (both small- and large-scale) at communal, ethnic, religious/geopolitical, and even homicidal levels more than easily accessible small arms and guns. Small arms, particularly guns, are increasingly sourced from armed conflicts and civil wars around the globe.
He noted that researchers have discovered that the eruptions or manifestations of national, regional, and international armed hostilities are the precursors to prolific small arms and other weapons that are inundating countless communities around the world.
He said that as small arms and guns change hands or even cross borders during ongoing armed conflicts or when war is winding down—or almost everywhere on a daily basis—the presence of guns in unauthorized hands swells in numbers. Such has been the case from Syria to Libya and other northern African states, thus feeding the gun supplies needed for the ever-escalating insurrections of Boko Haram, the Herdsmen, and others engaged in terrorism in Africa the past few decades in particular.
He stated that the widespread abuse of weapons diverts scarce government resources from health and education to public security, discourages investments and economic growth, and deprives developing countries of the skills and talents of the victims of gun-perpetrated violence.
He noted that the United States government has estimated that small arms are fueling conflicts in 22 African countries that have taken 7–8 million lives. In Africa guns are not just the weapons of choice, they also are, in effect, weapons of mass destruction as the previous statistic indicates.
Oyeyemi said “it is on record that more than 50,000 children have become orphans in the northeastern region of Nigeria in the first months of 2021 alone. Last year more than 1,000 people were killed, and properties worth millions of naira have been destroyed because of the continued mayhem caused by Fulani herdsmen in north-central Nigeria.
‘The nation’s southern and southwestern areas have had their share of gun violence as well. Lagos State was brought to its knees last year June when the so-called One Million Boys and the Awawa gangsters, two notorious groups, saw in the COVID-19 lockdown an opportunity to visit their mayhem and dastardly criminal activities upon the unsuspecting population of Lagos State”.
He acknowledges the efforts of the federal and state governments in curtailing the plague of gun violence in Nigeria which according to him is quite commendable.
He said “some state governments in the recent past introduced amnesty programmes, which has helped to mop up some of the illegal arms in local communities. Some State and Regional Governments in the country have resorted to promoting security measures to combat fettering gun violence in their territories.
“Also, the President had set up a Presidential Committee headed by the Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, which met a few months ago to look at the proliferation of small arms in Nigeria and its implications for the security of the nation. All these efforts are laudable, yet they must be improved upon in a transparent manner”.
Oyeyemi restated the commitment of the African Foundation for Peace and Love Initiatives (AFPLI) with the government and other entities in eradicating guns and other weapons—and working for peace.
He stated that as a longtime advocate for peacebuilding, we have been in the vanguard of founding and launching school-based peace clubs across the country since the inception of our organization, AFPLI in 2003. The organization, which was recognized by UNDPI in 2011, has participated in a number of UN programmes on structured education for peace and socio-cultural adjustment.
“AFPLI also promotes several signature programs aimed at the cultivation of new constituencies of peace and nation-building, focused on young people, for the enthronement of a new culture of peaceful co-existence within Nigeria and across Africa as a whole. Our clarion call, therefore, as the world marks the Global Week of Action Against Gun Violence is that people all over the world will redouble their efforts for peace and not violence in Africa, the Future Land of Peace”, he said.