The United Nations and member states have set aside every September 21, to celebrate, promote, preach and discuss issues relating to peace in our society. Without exception, Nigerians are joining their counterparts all over the world to commemorate this Day. The theme for this year’s commemoration is ‘The Sustainable Development Goals: Building Blocks for Peace’. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals which are; No poverty, Zero hunger, Good health and well being, Quality education, Gender equality, Clean water and sanitation, Affordable and clean energy, Decent work and economic growth, Industry, innovation and infrastructure, Reduced inequalities, Sustainable cities and communities, Responsible consumption and production, Climate action, Life below water, Life on land, Peace and justice and Partnerships for the goals were unanimously adopted by 193 countries including Nigeria at a United Nations meeting in New York, USA in September 2015.

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While these goals are integral to achieving peace in our time; peace on the other hand is an essential condition if any of the Sustainable Development Goals would be achieved. However, the activities of proscribed armed groups including Boko Haram sect and Niger Delta militant pose serious threat to peace and security in the land and consequently the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals in Nigeria.

While the Buhari led administration is taking credit for militarily decapacitating the sects, the pockets of skirmish from the sects confirms the obvious; that the government is bereft of any permanent solution to the security threats posed by these proscribed groups.

Although, it is generally agreed that the war on terror might be perpetual; the war on Boko Haram will end if the government takes appropriate steps. The Buhari led administration should realised that of all the seven (7) common ways of confronting terrorism which includes capturing or killing of their leaders, failure to transition to the next generation, achievement of group’s aims, transition to a legitimate political organisation, undermining of popular support, repression or military force and negotiation/mediation, only negotiation is capable of diminishing terrorist acts.

If the government is to win the battle against Boko Haram and Niger Delta sects and return positive peace to Nigeria, it must be ready to negotiate and put in place the necessary pillars of peace. De-capacitating terrorist groups is not enough; their sources of grievance must be eliminated. The fight against corruption must be depoliticized, adequate provisions must be made to productively engage the surplus population who serve as a tool for recruitment for terrorist and other related acts.

For the Sustainable Development Goals to be reached, everyone including government, private sectors, nongovernmental organisation and youth needs to play their part.

LAWAL, Rafiu Adeniran
National Coordinator;
Nigerian Youth 4 Peace Initiative (NYPI)