If adopted, Nigeria would join an elite group of nations at the vanguard of the protection of civilians, much like Musa joined the annals of the greats after his heralded performance at the World Cup. The proposed POC Policy would integrate protection throughout the government, double down on commitments to the protection of civilians caught in conflict…


It was a match to win, a goal that would have moved Nigeria to the next round and, more importantly, bring joy to a nation whose uniting factor has always been the beautiful game. Staring at an open net with the goalkeeper beaten, Yakubu scuffed his chance and placed his name in the history books of unbelievable misses. Supporters of the Super Eagles were sadly disappointed.

Nigerians have never forgotten the miss.

We all know the story – many musicians and stand-up comedians have used the name Yakubu as shorthand for “missing an easy opportunity.”

Another name from more recent history, Musa, has a very different meaning. The fleet-footed flying winger-cum-striker, whose second goal was nominated for the goal of the tournament, gave many Super Eagles fans hope in this year’s men’s World Cup, concluded a short while back. His approach will forever be cherished by Nigerians and football lovers around the world and his name is now synonymous with “action and completion.”

As we all are painfully aware, Nigeria has faced the challenges of violent insurgency for nearly a decade. Everyone has noticed.

From civilians, thousands of who have been killed, and thousands more displaced and exhausted by the fighting, to military members working to defend them, the punishing impacts of the conflict are unmistakable. Nigerians have suffered unbearable losses – of family members, communities, livelihoods, and homesteads. Schoolchildren have been abducted, killed, and served up as martyrs in this painful struggle. Many caught in the conflict do not see an end in sight.

The promise of this policy and the relief it would bring can be likened to the joy felt by football lovers around the world when Musa lit up the World Cup with his scintillating goal against Iceland.


Nigeria must now decide whether it will be a Yakubu or a Musa.

We submit that Nigeria need not – and should not – miss the opportunity to protect civilians from conflict.

In fact, over the past several years, Nigeria has crafted its own solution: the National Policy on Protection of Civilians (POC) in Conflict Situations. Nigeria’s draft policy has been lauded by leaders around the world. On July 19th, the honourable minister of information, culture and tourism Lai Mohammed announced that the federal republic would adopt the policy very soon.

If adopted, Nigeria would join an elite group of nations at the vanguard of the protection of civilians, much like Musa joined the annals of the greats after his heralded performance at the World Cup. The proposed POC Policy would integrate protection throughout the government, double down on commitments to the protection of civilians caught in conflict, and provide civilians with critical post-harm assistance if they have been affected by conflict.

The promise of this policy and the relief it would bring can be likened to the joy felt by football lovers around the world when Musa lit up the World Cup with his scintillating goal against Iceland.

The time is now for Nigeria to set up to the box, and score a goal for all civilians.

William Meeker, an expert in conflict prevention and mitigation, is Africa director, Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC), Anthony O. Ojukwu, an attorney, is executive secretary, National Human Rights Commission, and Biola Shotunde, a national security and strategic intelligence expert, is Fellow and ACSS Alumni.