To curb the proliferation of small arms especially in border communities in Nigeria, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the presidential committee on small arms and light weapons (PRESCOM), has engaged women organizations and security agencies on the best tactics to stop the menace.
In a two day zonal training workshop for women organizations and CSOs/CBOS in border communities on their critical role in civilian disarmament and prevention of arms trafficking, held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state, Mr. Fredrick Ampiah, Regional coordinator UNDP, Nigeria, on small arms programs, urged women groups to form coalition for combating the crime.
He said women being the home managers, are very important in achieving the project which is targeted for one year.
He said the pilot program started early 2019 and states close to borders in each zone were selected for the program.
“The training is aimed at enhancing the capacity of civil society organizations especially women civil society organizations and security agencies to increase their knowledge in small arms and to deepen their knowledge for effective combat of proliferation of small arms and weapon in Nigeria”.
“You can agree with me that women empowerment is a key to the development of every nation. And at the heart of every conflict, women, and children bear the suffering . So to address the issue of small arms effectively, we need to work with women and children. Women in all societies are the bedrock of peace so any meaningful approach to solving problems of small arms without any concerted effort aimed at bringing women into the fore will not have the desired effect in every sustainable manner”.
“We want women to know that they are not only victims of small arms but a key contributor to fighting it. We want women to know that at the heart of the community, they know where these are coming from, they know who is keeping arms and how much the impact is on them. So as they go back, let them impact on other women. Form coalition of women that are going to champion war against small arms proliferation”, he added.
Dickson Orji, program coordinator for the presidential committee on small arms and light weapons (PRESCOM), noted that with women in the fight, arms trafficking would be reduced.
He explained that PRESCOM, Created in 2013, came up with the idea of seeking how women could be integrated into solving security problems facing the country.
Mr. Dickson urged security agencies to open way for ideas and collaboration from civil society organizations and Non governmental organizations on arms trafficking in their area.
“Women are part of the society and can’t continue to be relegated to the background. When you are in the home, the woman coordinates the home and knows the children more than the men. Women pay more attention to the children more than the men so they know when their children are going astray and when a child is doing something wrong.
“what the men do is to complement the efforts of the women. Both armed robbers and bandits come from a home so if proper attention is paid to younger men and women, it will go a long way to reduce the menace.
Josephine Abbah, president West African Action Aide Network, in her remarks, emphasized that: “As mothers, we should first see a gun on the head of our children . We should first see it that a gun is on a child’s head and a trigger is about to pull. I would want them to create that type of picture.
“So whether you have seen a gun or not, I want the picture painted so that we engage at the community level.
And should be able to be sincere they should not think that we are coming to take their job by surrounding their small arms because I know some of them are doing what they are doing because they don’t have an option for livelihood.
“I must advise mothers to keep watch over their border communities and reduce the inflow of arms and trafficking in their places. Am hoping that partners will come to help them,” She said.