Violence/Insecurity: NGO consults with Ebonyi partners on peace building strategies

A Nongovernmental Organisation, Development and Integrity Intervention Goal Foundation, has consulted with some key partners on best strategies for peace building in the state.

The meeting was convened to seek ways of enhancing security, inter and intra-community peace even as the state prepares for council elections.

The consultative forum tagged ‘Partners Implementation Strategy Planning Meeting,’ was a major foundation for the organization’s “Dialogue-Not-Damage Campaign Project.”

The project is supported from Leadership Effectiveness, Accountability and Professionalism (LEAP) Africa, under Nigeria Youth Futures Fund project, NYFF.

It was held recently in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State capital.

Brainstorming on best approaches in peace building across communities in Ebonyi state, the partners identified positive youth empowerment  to continue peer-to-peer engagement, making sure that they  promote peace in the communities by themselves.

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They also identified community dialogue and self sensitization, engagement with traditional rulers and the political class as well as advocacy to relevant government organs to ensure impartial enforcement of existing laws as key.

On the side of Civil Society Organizations, the need to intensify advocacy, sensitization, town hall meetings with communities, among others were highlighted.

Summarizing the position of the partners to newsmen, the Executive Director, DIG Foundation, Oliver Chima Aja, observed that although politicians were often blamed in most communities for remotely instigating election related violence, the community people also share major part of the blame for failure to be united in nurturing peaceful co-existence.

Ajah said: “In Nigeria, the politicians are blamed for so many things, but we need to also balance the blame by also blaming the community members.

“This is because politicians also belong to particular communities, and whatever a community agrees to happen is what will happen, and community will always be the majority.

“So, what we are saying is that the community should first put itself together and dialogue so that the single or few politicians should not overwhelm the community.

“A united community is stronger than any politician, whether local government chairman, a Senator or even a Governor.”

Speaking on the goal and objectives of the Dialogue-Not-Damage Campaign Project, Ajah said it aims to contribute in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) number 16, and Ebonyi State Open Government Partnership (OGP) commitment number 4 which focuses on promoting peace building and citizen’s mobilization to enhance peaceful co-existence.

He emphasized that promoting peaceful co-existence among communities in Ebonyi state, especially through positive youth engagement and respect for human rights has become pertinent going by the level of insecurity, communal crises/conflicts threatening the unity of the state in particular, and Nigeria as a country.

He stated specifically that the objective of the project was to advocate  for peace, security and respect for human rights while providing platforms for civic enlightenment and multi-stakeholders dialogue on issues around peace and security in the state for peaceful co-existence, especially as the local government elections in the state draw closer.

He further added that the project sought to empower the youths with skills and knowledge to enable them serve as community peace builders and human rights advocates under the project.

The Executive Director maintained that the meeting was a first step towards delivering the goals of the project, adding that a wider forum would soon be hosted where the strategic plans would be ratified and adopted.

He said:  “After now, we are going to host an Ebonyi convergence for dialogue and peace where we would be bringing people from across the 13 local government areas to deliberate and adopt these strategies we have developed today.

“We are also going to train some youths as community peace builders and human rights advocates.     

“At the end of the day, what we want to see is peaceful Ebonyi; Ebonyi where peaceful co-existence is prioritized through positive youth engagement.”

Partners at the meeting included relevant government Arms, Ministries,  department and  Agencies: Ministries of Justice, Information, among others; Civil Society Organizations, security agencies and the media.

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