History was made in Nouakchott, Islamic Republic of Mauritania on Tuesday, January 18th 2023, when President Muhammadu Buhari received the ‘African Award for Strengthening Peace’ bestowed on him by an assembly of African leaders under the auspices of Abu Dhabi Peace Forum.
The Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina had said in a statement before the event that President Buhari wass being honoured for his “leadership role in promoting peace on the continent, through regular interventions, counsels and conciliatory position.”
The Abu Dhabi Peace Forum was established in 2014 to pursue new ways to embrace inclusive citizenship, promote lasting peace, and work towards a safer and more sustainable world for everyone.
Speaking after the presentation at a private meeting, President of the Abu Dhabi Peace Forum, Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah, described President Buhari as “a symbol and icon of leadership and integrity,” who would remain an inspiration even after leaving office as President.
While lauding the efforts of the Nigerian President to eradicate religious extremism, he stressed that it was something the world must collaborate to do in order to bring lasting peace to the world.
Inviting the Nigerian leader to visit Abu Dhabi within the short time left for him in office, the Shaykh stated, “You have had varied experiences, as a military leader, a democratically elected leader for two terms, and your input will be appreciated in any society. We will be glad to receive you.”
Prior to receiving the award as an international recognition for serving Nigeria and the larger interest of peace in Africa, the President also participated in the Programme of the Third Forum of the African Conference for Peace, where he delivered a fairly long all-encompassing speech on his administration’s milestones and gains in the African peace process.
The President’s African Award for Strengthening the Peace, was described by the Shaykh as “a symbol and icon of leadership and integrity,”
President Buhari confidently recounted efforts made to annihilate the Boko Haram ideology in Nigeria, wondering why the group, along with Islamic State of West African Province, ISWAP wanted to split the country.
“Boko Haram is false. You say Western education is ungodly. It is fraudulent. Whoever is financing them just wants to split the country.
”All the grounds they seized before we came in 2015 have been recovered, and the rebuilding process is going on well,” he added.
In explaining the financial costs of dealing with insurgency in the country, President Muhammadu Buhari unequivocally revealed that his administration had invested over $1 billion in the acquisition of weapons from the United States and other countries in the fight since he assumed office in 2015, accusing some Nigerians of using personal religious beliefs to champion their political and economic interests.
“Ideally, these are resources that could be spent on education, healthcare, infrastructure and other social services; but without peace, we have learnt the hard way, that our children cannot go to school or seek good healthcare.”
As his recipe for lasting peace and development of the African continent, Buhari put forward a number of cogent, workable and implementable proposals among which are charging African leaders to take immediate steps to find lasting solution to the over 10-year-old instability in Libya, which is having telling effect on neighbouring countries around that country.
He also stressed the need for the next Summit of the African Union to take a holistic review of the challenges that continued to fester in Libya with the hope of finding pragmatic African approach to resolving the instability in the country.
In the wisdom of President Buhari, the move was necessary to ensure that Libya no longer served as a safe-haven for all kinds of weapons and foreign fighters, whose profound impacts stared all in the sub-regions and Africa.
According to him, “Global terrorism, banditry and other trans-national crimes continue to pose enormous challenges not only to Africa but to global peace and security.” He furthet noted that the phenomena have become perennial threats to sustained economic development and growth.
In further reassuring the world, PMB said that Nigeria and other regional bodies in Africa and the rest of the world are working assiduously to deal with these existential threats to the very existence of humanity, adding “for us in Nigeria, we continue to engage bilaterally and multilaterally to comprehensively win the war against Boko Haram insurgency and other related terror groups through kinetic and non-kinetic approaches.”
Expressing his concern posed by the shrinking of Lake Chad had and dire consequences for the people of the region, PMB in the strongest of terms, told the assembly of African leaders that the situation had culminated in the easy recruitment of the youth by the terrorist groups, as they desperately sought means of livelihood under difficult economic conditions.
Buhari furrter explained that the scenario created serious instability and served as a litmus test for member countries of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, LCBC to devise means to restore livelihoods lost within the region.
He stated, “As a corollary to containing this development, the LCBC has begun implementing programmes to safeguard the ecosystem of the basin, including seeking global support to return the lake to an economic hub it was known for in the past.
“We must, therefore, support peace initiatives to bring political stability in crisis-ridden areas such as Libya, Central African Republic and other parts of the Sahel region in order to discourage the spread of insurgency, other criminal groups, as well as arms and foreign fighters in these locations and continent-wide.”
President Buhari expressed the hope that the next African Union Summit scheduled for February this year, under the leadership of President Macky Sall would revisit this matter, in a comprehensive and pragmatic manner, to free our regions and continent, the cycles of violence, instability, lack of development and progress in the sub-regions of Africa that are well-endowed with resources that can easily sustain not only the continent, but most of the world, and refocus our attention for indigenous and sustainable solutions under the entire Peace and Stability Architecture of our continent.”
As an acknowledged global peace awardee, PMB opened up the space by stressing the need for African stakeholders, including governments, the private sector and the Civil Society Organisations to make concerted efforts to support existing mechanisms and initiatives to build strong and virile institutions that effectively support good governance thus leading to the development and progress of our countries and continent.
President Buhari paid tribute to the relentless drive and courage of Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, for his initiative to promote peace through the process of combating extremists’ ideas that incubate violence in societies noting: “Your scholarly teachings should be given due dissemination to counter the terrorists’ narrative misrepresenting Islamic thoughts.”
The president stated that it was his strong belief that if leaders were able to re-commit themselves in the right directions, with strong political will, Africa would be the better for it.
President of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, said: “We want to raise awareness among African elites, spiritual elites and the youth, of the absolute priority that must be given to peace, and the need to implement concrete actions to promote and entrench it.”
Indeed President Buhari has paid his dues to Nigeria in particular and the African continent in his efforts to bring lasting peace and development to the country and the African continent.
This award is a further confirmation that previous awards by the African Union, AU on PMB as champion of Anti corruption and the ECOWAS award on PMB as champion of the fight against Covid 19. All of them are honours well deserved.
Indeed PMB is undoubtedly Africa’s premium peacemaker.