Hailing Olusegun Obasanjo for his role in ending two years of war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, HD Executive Director David Harland formally thanked the former Nigerian president for his tireless mediation efforts with a letter and certificate of commendation from HD’s Board.

Harland’s visit to Nigeria also strengthened HD’s peacemaking partnerships at various levels in Africa’s most populous country.

In Ethiopia, the fighting in Tigray killed as many as 600,000 people and displaced millions before the Pretoria agreement of November 2022 effectively halted the violence.

From August 2021, Obasanjo was the African Union High Representative for the Horn of Africa to prepare the ground for official mediation.

At the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library in Abeokuta, Harland presented the letter and certificate from HD’s Foundation Board to Obasanjo in recognition of his work on Tigray resulting in the Agreement for Lasting Peace through a Permanent Cessation of Hostilities brokered by the African Union.

Harland also gave Obasanjo a bowl of Black Sea grain to reflect HD’s close support for the UN-led initiative with Russia, Ukraine and Türkiye that reopened vital food shipments to millions of people.

“With his tireless tenacity and wise perspective, His Excellency has been instrumental in the accord between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front that has stopped the fighting, created hope and enabled deliveries of aid to people in desperate need,” Harland said.

“HD’s commendation and appreciation are just small reflections of President Obasanjo’s commitment to mediation for peace, including his ongoing efforts to ensure implementation of the Tigray agreement and to support wider peace throughout Ethiopia and Africa.”

To read the HD letter to Obasanjo, click here.

“Let me express my sincere appreciation to HD for the partnership and for the token of appreciation given to me for our collaboration,” Obasanjo said. “Ethiopia exposed me to many things and I learnt so much from our working together.”

HD has been operating in Nigeria, also Africa’s largest economy, since 2013 as part of our conflict mediation and peacemaking projects across the continent and around the world.

Building on major community accords in 2015 and 2016, HD is addressing conflicts in Nigeria’s Middle Belt states, with recent results including a landmark social media peace accord between communities in conflict and a peace agreement based on the sharing of natural resources.

Harland was also honoured to meet the country’s Vice President, H.E. Professor Yemi Osinbajo, during his visit.

“It was a great opportunity to build on an already strong relationship and explore new paths to peace across Nigeria,” said Babatunde Afolabi, HD’s Director of Anglophone & Lusophone Africa.

“We were encouraged to hear Vice President Osinbajo’s insights and positive words about HD’s work to resolve intercommunal conflicts in the Middle Belt and as a partner in implementing the National Livestock Transformation Plan that aims to resolve farmer-herder conflicts over scarce land, water and other resources.”

Harland, Afolabi and the HD team also met with traditional authorities in Benue State to maintain momentum in North Central Nigeria.

The session covered HD’s ongoing dialogue efforts in Benue State and explored how to ensure implementation of an accord in 2022 when more than 20 clans from the Agatu community committed to ending decades of violence over water and land by agreeing to share resources and allow the safe return of displaced people. 

With Bishop Hassan Kukah of the Kukah Centre, a policy research institute, Harland and the team talked about HD’s role in conflict management – with a focus on how our social media initiatives can de-escalate tensions.

Over the years, HD has been a partner to the National Peace Committee on election conflict management in Nigeria. HD’s global Digital Conflict team actively supports the Nigeria team, including a landmark social media peace agreement in 2021 between Bache, Fulani and Irigwe communities in Plateau State to limit inflammatory content.

With Dr. Garba Abari, Director-General of the National Orientation Agency, Harland discussed HD’s community-level mediation efforts, potential areas of engagement in future and ways to strengthen our partnership with the agency, which seeks to improve understanding of government programmes among Nigeria’s 220 million people.

David Harland presents the HD certificate to His Excellency Olusegun Obasanjo
Visit with Nigeria’s Vice President, H.E. Professor Yemi Osinbajo
Consultative discussion with Benue State traditional rulers
Visit with Bishop Hassan Kukah at the Kukah Centre
Meeting with Dr. Garba Abari, Director-General of the National Orientation Agency
Touring the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library in Abeokuta