[International Women’s Day #MakeItHappen] Women As Peace Agents in the Niger Delta- Profile of Barr. Mrs Biobara Makalabh

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Policing Niger Delta Communities: Women make it Happen

 Peace Agent’s Biodata:

Barrister Mrs Biobara Makalabh Roselyn aka ‘Mama Rose’ or ‘Madam Borikiri’ is a 55 year old retired Police. While in service, she rose to the rank of Divisional Police Officer (DPO). She was the DPO of Borikiri Police Station in Bayelsa State. In addition, ‘Mama Rose’ is a singer, a dancer and an artist. According to her, “I propagate my message of peace through my artwork. I believe in Peace. When I was in service, I was always ready to go all out to encourage people to pursue peace. I actually reconciled many people”. Mama Rose is reputed to have launched an Album titled the “Niger Delta Root”. One of the lead tracks in the Album is “Police Women”. The track is said to be widely celebrated amongst Police Women and it literally became the “anthem” of the Police Women Training program in West Africa. She also founded ‘The Makalabh’, a development Foundation.

Context: The United Nations recognizes that in all fields of peacekeeping, women peacekeepers have proven that they can perform the same roles, to the same standards and under the same difficult conditions, as their male counterparts. According to the UN, “It is therefore an operational imperative that we recruit and retain female peacekeepers. Women are deployed in all areas – police, military and civilian – and have made positive impact on peacekeeping environments, both in supporting the role of women in building peace and protecting women’s rights.” Mama Rose’s achievements as a police officer reiterate this fact.

What did the Peace Agent do/achieve?

  1. Promotes peace and reconciliation – Unlike several of her colleagues, Mama Rose believes very much in reconciliation. She was able to settle several conflicts without going to court. “When people came to the station with problem, I tried to get them to seat together. I also seat with them to discuss and before you know it, we have made peace…. I think that is better than making trouble…. Peace is good for everybody.”
  2. Prevents conflict by paying attention to early warning signs
  • Her community – Otuabagi plays host to over 22 oil wells but according to her, “the community has nothing to show for it. My people are not happy, my women are not happy.” My people are suffering, no water, there is erosion. I have been busy calming my people down. “
  • Gathering intelligence and taking action to stem conflict – Mama Rose said

“The 2011 election would have torn my community into pieces. The generality favoured a candidate, while the Government and political elite favoured another. So everybody was ready for a show down – Youths guarded the community to see how anybody would hijack the polls, while women threatened to go naked. When I saw the political tension, I had to call everybody to a round table. They all agreed to a give and take, the candidate favoured by the Youth and Women agreed to step down. The election went peacefully, every party was later absorbed in the political leadership and Community is the better for it.

  • Bravely tackled criminals while in service – Once, she was posted to the Nembe waterside which according to her “was the center of militia, cult and criminality” at that time. One day, a man was attacked with a cutlass –his flesh cut and he was bleeding and robbed of his money. Mama Rose arrived the scene as people were screaming and running for safety. The criminal was there but nobody could go after him because they were afraid,

“…including my officers. I was wearing shorts, I ran after the boy, he jumped into the river, I also jumped into the river… It was home video, people were watching… he is Ijaw, I am Ijaw, he can’t swim more than me. I went after him in the river. After sometime one man said how can we allow this women to suffer like this? He brought a boat to me but I said no. If you want me to come out, go and catch that boy first. He then went after the boy, caught him, it was then I agreed to enter the boat. I arrested the boy and got the money back to owner. In my usual style, I locked the boy up for sometime. I wanted his head to cool down. When I saw that he was totally broken and remorseful, I brought him, called the man he cut and stole from. He apologized and vowed never to go back to that life. He became a totally changed man.

 Peace Agent’s demands –

  • Community leaders: “Continue to encourage us.“
  • LGA chairpersons and State governments “…they can support with funding, public awareness program and policy formulation”.
  • Others: “It is actually people like you (PIND), I mean NGOs that can do a lot, you are open and straightforward”. You just need to provide more funding and be closer, come regularly and give us direction. You are our strength and you know the importance of what we are doing.

 The International Women’s Day #MakeItHappen is a series that highlight key women, who through their actions and work, have created a peaceful environment that has led to more economic opportunities for women and men in their local communities.

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