This workshop, organised in multiplex in Abuja, Bamako, Yaounde, and Dakar (due to the COVID 19 pandemic), brought together media professionals from Nigeria, Cameroon and Mali. It aimed to contribute to the strengthening and participation of civil society, including the media, in the security sector reform and governance (SSR/GSR) processes, through an inclusive approach while establishing synergies of action.
The first training day saw presentations from Mr Boubacar Sokona, an SSR Specialist and expert at the Office of the Commissioner for Security Sector Reform in Mali, and Colonel Jean Biagui, Special Advisor to the DG of CHEDS and Programme Manager of the Master in Defence, Security and Peace. While Mr Sokona delivered a broad overview of the historical background and human security issues, Colonel Biagui expatiated on the state of SSG and human rights in an environment marked by asymmetric threats. Following their presentations, Mr Samba Badji, Editor-in-Chief of Africa Check discussed the challenges for media in SSG/R and training requirements that could bridge existing gaps. The day ended with a breakout session where participants discussed country-specific challenges that hinder the ability of the media to provide coverage of SSR/G issues in Africa.
On the second training day, Professor Rachid Yassine, Coordinator of the African Religious Observatory and head of the 'Religions, violent extremism and mediation' working group enlightened participants on citizen control of SSR. An important aspect of the training was the discussion on gender and SSG/R led by Dr Aicha Pemboura, Professor of Strategic Studies and International Relations at the University of Yaounde.
The concluding day of the training saw a presentation from Dr Freedom Onuoha, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Political Science, University of Nsukka in Nigeria. Dr Onuoha spoke extensively about the role of regional organizations in SSG/R, citing the case of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Dr Onuoha highlighted the strides of ECOWAS and noted the challenges of ECOWAS approach to SSR/G such as largely donor-dependent and inability to inspire aggressive positive political reforms.
The participants noted common SSR challenges within the three countries to include human rights violation, endemic corruption, weak political institutions and insufficient border security. The participants from Nigeria presented under-staffing of security sector personnel, inter-agency rivalry & civil-military relations, ungoverned spaces/rise of militias, and over-centralized security architecture as primary security challenges specific to Nigeria. They proposed action plans for future step-down training to broader media personnel and civil society members.