Coordinating and conducting policy research on conflict in northern Nigeria

ippr4Since 2010, the dRPC has partnered with the University of Oxford in the Nigeria Research Network (NRN), which connects European, American, and Nigerian academics and practitioners with expertise on northern Nigeria. The NRN came into being through the IRP-Abuja research project, which was funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and studied the role of Islam in society, politics and the economy in northern Nigeria. More recently, the NRN has been engaged by the Netherlands Embassy in Abuja and by DfID’s Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme.

In its coordinating capacity of the NRN, the dRPC has conducted three main roles:facilitating research projects throughout the north, organizing academic conferences as well as policy dissemination meetings in Nigeria, and conducting research on sensitive conflict issues in Kano.

In terms of facilitation, the dRPC has helped the NRN researchers through its extensive network of contacts in northern Nigeria, its local expertise, and its professional financial and operational facilities. The dRPC has close connections with regional NGOs, traditional and religious authority structures (e.g. the Emirates and the ulama), and the formal government institutions. Moreover, the dRPC staff has extensive practical knowledge about local norms, logistical issues, and security problems – all of which are vital aspects of fieldwork in the region. Finally, the dRPC has been pivotal in facilitating the financial and operational dimensions of NRN researchers’ fieldwork, for example by managing fieldwork finances or supplying research assistance.

In all NRN programmes, the dRPC has been responsible for the organization of academic and policy dissemination meetings in Nigeria. Two academic conferences were held as part of the IRP-Abuja project (in 2011 and 2012); methodology workshops were organised in 2010 in Kano and 2014 in Abuja. In June 2013, moreover, the dRPC organized a policy dissemination workshop in Abuja for the IRP-Abuja project, which was attended by ministers and other state officials, as well as important Nigerian religious clerics such as Bishop Matthew Kukah and Sheikh Ahmed Lemu. Finally, the dRPC helped the Netherlands Embassy in Abuja to organize a training workshop for Nigerian journalists (R2P) on the sensitivities and best practices of conflict reporting.

In their own research for the NRN, dRPC staff members have used creative mixed-methods approaches to study conflict mitigation and violence. For example, they used qualitative interviews as well as survey methods to study the potential of non-Hausa, Muslim minority groups in Kano to function as a bridge between the city’s Hausa majority and the non-Muslim ethnic minorities. Furthermore, some of the dRPC’s other research projects have focused on youth socialization in northern Nigeria and the quality of Nigerian civil society organisations. In all of their research, the dRPCstrives to create knowledge that can help to improve policy interventions.