The Goodluck Jonathan Foundation (GJF) has said that the outbreak of the pandemic COVID-19 has exposed the vulnerabilities of many communities in Nigeria and Africa.
The foundation of the ex-president, in its first edition of a three-part series of its flagship programme Policy Dialogue Series, also said that the outbreak of COVID- 19 is one of the biggest development crisis in recent world history; there is, therefore, the need for all stakeholders to unite and confront the challenges of the moment.
The dialougue examined the impacts and risks associated with the pandemic on peace and security in Africa as well as the approach and strategies for mitigating them in the light of current realities and the fragile nature of some African States.
After robust deliberations, participants at the dialogue observed that the pandemic has a tendency for African leaders in their attempt to ending the cycle of infection of the virus to shift focus or be blind to the peace and security issues facing the continent.
It was also noted that not only Economic concerns are beginning to take priority over the health, peace and security of citizens, but the pandemic has also led to an increase in reported cases of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in the continent.
Participants also posited that the shutting down tertiary institutions during this period of crisis is counterproductive to the growth and development of the continent as the pandemic presents an opportunity for African leaders to leverage on technology and ensure that learning continues.
“The COVID-19 pandemic exposes the vulnerability of many communities, placing citizens at a high risk of recruitment by extremist groups. The COVID 19 pandemic is exposing the long history of failure of governance in the continent and if this is not addressed, it may lead to the collapse of many African States.
“The current approach of city-wide lockdowns and movement restriction denies citizens access to their safe spaces and other forms of human rights. The needs of women, youth, and other vulnerable groups are often neglected in emergency response situations as posed by the current pandemic.
“There is absence of a collective approach and deliberate response from continental/regional bodies within the continent,” participants at the dialogue also noted.
It was recommended that African leaders must look inwards for specific, original and organic solutions that speak to peace and security issues; taking advantage of the talents, skills, and experiences that abound within the continent.
Participants also advised that the continent must go beyond rhetoric and start collaborating and leverage on their comparative advantage.
It also tasked leaders across the continent to develop a robust database and clinical evidence about the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa which will help in developing the appropriate approach in tackling the impact and risks associated with the health crisis.
“Governments to train law enforcement agencies on disaster preparedness and emergency policing. Ask governments to seize the opportunity of this crisis to heighten disaster management literacy among relevant agencies and citizens.
“Call on law enforcement agencies to adopt a human rights-based approach in the enforcement of lockdown and other COVID 19 measures,” participants at the GJF dialogue also recommended.
While the foundation wants governments to focus on human security over state security, as human security translates to national security, it stressed the need for reforms in the criminal justice system and security architecture of the continent.