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Published On: Tue, Aug 14th, 2018

Towards peaceful coexistence: The Nasarawa Example

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By Abu Michael

Even though conflict is ever-present and inherent in human setups, peace remains necessary and an essential condition for robust security system, rich democratic order and rapid socioeconomic growth and development.
Nigeria is a highly diverse country in terms of her socio-cultural, religious and political configuration; unfortunately, the management of this diversity is highly neglected, creating vacuums for dysfunctional conflicts and various social disorders endangering national security. The insecurity situation has punctured the relative peace that was hitherto enjoyed in the six geopolitical zones of the country negatively impacting on governance and development.
The piquing thing about Nigeria is that political leaders usually take for granted issues of peace-building and conflict management which are germane to national cohesion and all-round advancement in our aspirations and yearnings as people of one political entity.
With nexus of and varying forms of violent conflict confronting virtually all the states of the federation, in addition to the ethno-religious and regional sentiments deeply rooted in the psyche of the average citizen, the Governments at all levels and critical stakeholders ought to proactively put in place a well-funded organizations to aggressively pursue issues of peaceful coexistence and conflict management in order to guarantee the prevalence of social justice.
In demonstration of the importance attached to the matters of peace promotion and conflict resolution, the Federal Government through the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation recently constituted a committee headed by the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) for the establishment of a National Peace Commission and state agencies for Peace and Conflict Management. It is hoped that the committee is inaugurated for it to commence work in earnest.
Various states in the country are either confronted with farmers/herders’ conflict, Boko Haram insurgency, armed banditry/cattle rustling, kidnapping, communal clashes and so on and so forth. These conflicts require urgent attention hence they snowball at each given moment.
Disturbed by the ugly trend and to show its commitment to the restoration of peace and safety of lives and property, the Nasarawa State Government constituted and inaugurated its Community-based Conflict Resolution Committees for the state level, local and ward.
Although peace and conflict resolution work requires every hand, yet it does not warrant an unskilled groups or individuals at least for the “Do no harm” principle. That was why the Umaru Tanko Al-Makura-led Nasarawa State Government organized a three day training titled, “Capacity Building Workshop on Leadership, Peace-building and Conflict Management for the Local Government Functionaries as well as for the members of the committees. The training which was carried out by the National Peace Academy (NPA) of the IPCR took place at Lafia, 31st July – August 2, 2018.
In his address at the opening ceremony of the workshop, Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, represented by his deputy, Silas Ali Agara maintained that the state suffered intermittent communal and boundary disputes, herdsmen and farmers clashes among other conflicts seriously threatening corporate existence. He agreed that there was no better time than now for such training for leaders in the country.
The Head of the Academy, Dr. Bosede Awodola did tell the dignitaries that graced the opening ceremony of the workshop that the NPA was established by IPCR, the Federal Government’s apex agency on matters of peace and conflict resolution in the country so as to build capacities of individuals, groups and critical and strategic agencies in pursuit of peaceful Nigerian Society. She encouraged states in the country to emulate Nasarawa State Government for there is nothing that is as important as bequeathing a system of peaceful coexistence to the people.
It was high time Government make a policy that would ensure that all political office holders and top government functionaries received peace and conflict management training hence they take critical decisions that could make or mar harmonious living, governance and development.

Abu I. Michael is Resident Information Officer (RIO) of IPCR

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