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How to tackle insecurity— Bakut

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How to tackle insecurity--- BakutThe Director-General, Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), Dr Bakut O.Bakut,
says strategic engagements with China by African countries are key to tackling insecurity challenges in Africa.

Bakut said this in Abuja on Friday at the second quarter roundtable discussion organised by the institute to interrogate issues pertaining to insecurity and China-Africa relations.

The theme of the roundtable is “Vaccine War and Our Shared Future: Strengthening Africa-China Relations in the Era of Health Insecurity”.

“It is our hope that the harmonious engagements between Africa and China in responding to national, regional, continental and global threats will bring out the desired result for the peace, security, development and prosperity of Africa, China and the global environment.

“On assumption of office, I decided to centralise the Institute’s engagement with China by institutionalising this laudable collaboration with the inauguration of the Africa-China Research Unit (ACRU)

“This, with the view to properly understanding the context of peace, security and development in Africa and specifically Nigeria.

“It is my reading of the Institute’s legal mandate that if critical actors in the peace and security environment are strategically engaged, we will be able to provide the government with knowledge-driven policy advice towards building the country we all wish to have,” Bakut said.

The Director-General reminded participants that the second quarter roundtable was aimed at understanding and interrogating the health security challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic generated.

He said that it would also provide the institute with insights into the interconnectedness of health security such as vaccine war, vaccine nationalism and vaccine passport, as they relate to China-Africa relations with other components of human security.

“In taking the conversation a little further, the Africa-China Research Unit of the Institute has come up with a very important theme for discussion in this quarter in view of the ongoing global health insecurity as occasioned by the Coronavirus pandemic.

“While the international community and nation-states battle with the side effects of the COVID-19, especially in curtailing global and domestic movement, terrorists and other criminal organisations are taking advantage of the situation to strengthen their capacity and position themselves to carry out violent attacks on soft targets,” he said.

Bakut added that this had exacerbated economic hardships and heightened threats to physical security across the world, and stressed that in Nigeria, insurgency and banditry had escalated with serious concern on health, food, physical, community, and personal security.

Prof. Mustapha Jamda of the Dept of Community Medicine and Public Health, University of Abuja, in his presentation, stressed the need for African countries to reciprocate China’s vaccine aid during the pandemic to strengthen China-Africa relations.

Jamda said, “When the rest of the world cannot for various reasons come to the aid of Africa, China probably based on existing strong ties with Africa, is investing huge resources to support Africa fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is not only done by donating vaccines (and consumables) but the transfer of production facilities and capabilities (technologies) to Africa,” he said.

Jamda, who spoke on the topic, “Vaccine War and Our Future: Strengthening Africa-China Relations in the Era of Health Insecurity,” said, “Africa needs to reciprocate this gesture by not only sustaining but building on existing China-Africa relations and boost its research capabilities.”

He further stressed the need to bolster China-Africa relations against the backdrop of the fact that the two sides both have a population of about a 1.3 billion, although the resources available and capabilities of the two differ significantly in many ways.

“Both parties stand to gain from strong and sustainable long-term relations and should ensure justice and fairness in planning and execution of all treaties and deals.

“Africa needs to show more diplomatic commitment to China and discharge its responsibilities – loans, debt servicing, and also develop its human resources and facilities to the level it maximises opportunities from the China-Africa relations,” he added.

Dr Bosede Awodola, Head, National Peace Academy (IPCR) noted that Vaccine nationalism had not been beneficial to African countries, especially African countries with low GDP and who cannot afford to purchase the vaccines for their citizens.

The COVID-19 era, she said, witnessed a strong China and Africa relationship ensuing from China’s contribution in aid and vaccines to African countries.

Awodola further said that in order to strengthen relations between Africa and China, China must embark on vaccine diplomacy that promotes cooperation, research, support and exchanges of pharmaceutical technology that will be beneficial to Africa.

Awodola who spoke on the topic: Strengthening China-Africa Solidarity Against Vaccine Nationalism,” said, “It is until and when such cooperations occur that China and Africa can strengthen their solidarity against vaccine nationalism.

“It is also very important that China is mindful of the controversial debate on vaccine passports. China made the controversial announcement that it will prioritize visas for travelers who are vaccinated with China’s vaccines.

“Such passports could further encourage vaccine nationalism, whereby countries that can afford to purchase vaccines prioritize immunizing their own populations over-sharing doses with poorer countries,” she said.

Awodola urged China to strengthen solidarity with Africa by showing more interest in the well-being and welfare, as well as the development of African nations, while African countries should also look inwards.

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