Interview with MPSA alumni Brigadier General Ibra BOULAMA ISSA
Brigadier General Ibra BOULAMA ISSA, currently the deputy Chief of Defence Staff of the Niger Armed Forces, is a 2011 alumnus of the 2nd cohort of the Executive Master’s in Peace and Security (MPSA) Programme.
06 November 2018
Brig. Gen. BOULAMA recently visited IPSS to deliver a lecture on ‘Security Dynamics in the Sahel-Sahara Region’ on 10 October 2018 to the 14th cohort of MPSA participants.
Brig. Gen. BOULAMA was previously the Special Chief of Staff of the President of Niger Republic, Advisor to the President on Security and Defence issues, and in charge of the Secretariat of the National Security Council. He was also the focal person on the Management of the Joint US-Niger Programme in Security Governance Initiative (SGI). He was cumulatively the Director of the National Centre for Strategic and Security Studies, a new initiative/structure established in 2016.
Throughout his career, Brig. Gen. BOULAMA has received several diplomas and certificates of award in the areas of peacekeeping operations, operational planning, civil-military cooperation, negotiations, integration of international humanitarian law in military operations, and DDR processes. He is also an active speaker and participant of high-level seminars organized by the African Centre for Strategic Studies (ACSS), in particular on National Security Strategies Development and National Counterterrorism Strategies in Africa. Brig. Gen. BOULAMA is a graduate of Morocco War College with a specialised Master in National Defence.
As a MPSA alumnus, what aspects of the programme did you find most rewarding?
The MPSA Programme provides an opportunity for participants to analyze conflicts by studying their root and structural causes, therefore allowing for the development of possible mitigation strategies. As a MPSA participant, learning how to map the actors in a conflict was not only interesting but also essential and fundamental. Studying the actors that intervene at different stages of conflict allows one to view the dynamic of interactions on the ground, whether the actors are regional, international or external. This is critical in developing various solutions to resolving those conflicts.
Another important aspect of the MPSA Programme that I utilize today is the approach behind conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction. Understanding the mechanisms of post-conflict reconstruction enables one to configure conflict mitigation strategies that can prevent the resurgence of conflict.
How has MPSA impacted your career?
During my participation in the MPSA programme, I worked with the ECOWAS Commission in the Peacekeeping and Regional Security Department. In 2011, I returned to serve my country [Niger] as Aide de Camp of the President and then his Special Chief of Staff. The MPSA Programme has contributed to the vision and approach of the work I am involved in. As Director of the National Centre for Strategic and Security Studies, we have tried to implement research and educational programmes focusing on the fight against radicalization and violent extremism as well as developing a National Defense and Security Policy. The three-year strategic plan was a fundamental aspect in which Nigeriens could feel concerned with national issues of peace and security. The experience I had at MPSA enabled me to seek a national and global approach by assessing and addressing problems as well as finding urgent solutions from a national security perspective.
Furthermore, through MPSA I learned about the requirements needed to set up an early warning system, which I implemented in the establishment of the Nigerien National Observatory for Security Risks. The Observatory is a prevention tool which will be dedicated to obtaining informative data based on a set of predefined indicators that can assess national security risks.
In your own assessment, how do you view the contributions of the G5 to the economic development and security of the Sahel region?
This is an important question. In the last four years, the G5 countries have gathered in a collaborative effort to take action regarding the evolution of the security situation in Mali. At the level of the G5 Sahel, there are two important pillars that Heads of State and Government are trying to activate through the Permanent Secretariat of the G5 headquartered in Nouakchott, Mauritania. The first pillar is the security pillar which enables us to urgently address the existing threats on the ground and thus combat the expanding terrorism in Northern Mali and other neighbouring regions. The Nigerien Armed Forces, as well as other G5 states, have put in place the G5 Sahel Joint Force to regroup the different forces from the five member countries into one brigade force (one Battalion per country) with the aim of eventually reaching 10,000 soldiers.
The second pillar is the development pillar. A military solution in Mali is only short-term. In the long run, we need to find sustainable solutions to the crisis. The Priority Investment Plan (PIP) at the level of the Permanent Secretariat of the G5 countries was established after taking into consideration the socio-economic, infrastructure and development aspects at the level of the different regional and local communities. This plan, if implemented across all G5 member states, can enable the creation of the necessary conditions for economic development.
In Niger, we have implemented the first Social and Economic Development Plan (2012-2015), and are currently running the second plan, which is pegged to the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. There is an understanding of a long-term vision and to implement it we developed a five-year economic and social development plan. And thus, I believe that it is on these two pillars that the G5 Sahel states are trying to act on security in the short-term and development in the long-term.
Click here to view photos from the lecture.