AFFIRMATIVE ACTION ISSUED AT THE END OF THE SUMMIT/TRAINING
on Promoting Peace, Democracy and Stability in Nigeria through the Media, Socio-Cultural Institutions and Youth-Driven Community Based Groups HELD AT De NEVILLA HOTEL, KADUNA ON JUNE 12 2017, BY JOURNALISTS FOR DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS,(JODER) WITH THE SUPPORT OF FORD FOUNDATION, WEST AFRICA REGIONAL OFFICE
We representativesof various ethnic, cultural, religious and social formations met here in Kaduna for the utilitarian good of the diverse peoples of Northern Nigeria.
The summit combined with a Training programme in Kaduna on June 12, 2017 has participantsdrawn from largely youth leaders of community-based organisations, ethnic communities and associations, faith-based groups, government and representatives of democratic institutions and security organisations. The programme was declared open by the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam El Rufai, represented by his Special Adviser, Mr. Samuel Aruwan.
The choice of Kaduna was by design, but has come to be a good coincidence given the history of Nigeria and the role the city has played as a major actor, since the 1966 military assault on democracy, and the far-reaching consequences on the political-economic and the social equilibrium on the North and on the entire country.
We observe and significantly so, that Kaduna was recently chosen by some youths, who had few weeks ago, ordered a section of the country to quit the Northern territories following perceived threats from an the activities of equally youth-driven organizations from the Southern part of the country.
We notice that, for the avoidance of doubt, the North has, in recent time, been plagued by different forms of conflict, religious, ethnic, social and political.
One of the most worrisome dimensions being the recurrence of extremism of different shades, killings, proliferation of small arms in the hands of non-state actors, violent conflict over grazing routes and the multi-national dimension of the conflict.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE SUMMIT/TRAINING
- We the delegates express great enthusiasm about the timely Summit/Training in Kaduna at a critical period in Nigeria’s history.
- Therefore, it was heart-warming that the representatives from different social, cultural and ethnic formations across the 19 states of the Nigerian federation, gathered here in Kaduna to deliberate on the future of the people of Northern Nigeria, out of our own free will, conviction and liberty.
- For the one day Summit/Training, participants came from various parts of the country, the North East, North West and the Middle Belt representing the diverse rainbow of ethnic and cultural configuration in the Northern part of the country.
- It is the first time in recent memory that people on their own volition have come together under a canopy that enjoys their full confidence and support.
- That Kaduna is the melting pot and the barometer that gauges the climate of the entire North given the city’s location, history and significance in the thousands of years of history that the people of Northern Nigeria had lived in their ancestral communities;
- We the delegates observe that democracy remains the best possible system of government and that the country and the people of Northern Nigeria are better off under representative government during which the cornerstone of developments have been conceived, recorded in many towns, cities and communities in Northern Nigeria;
- That in spite of the advancement ushered by democracy, conflict which is a major cause of under development, poverty, hunger and backwardness have been common features in many parts of Northern Nigeria;
- That we express deep excitement that the summit/training on peace building and conflict prevention is long overdue given the dynamics of human relations, the associated consequences of conflict in our various communities in parts of Northern Nigeria.
- That at present, there are serious problems in the North which include but not restricted to extreme poverty, exclusion, women rights abuse, child trafficking, child labour and begging as a means of survival especially among school age children;
- That the problems in the North have been accentuated by religious extremism, violent crimes and the upsurge in suicide bombings, using children as puns in some cases and also the dangerous consequences that have led, in part, to thousands of Internally Displaced People,(IDP);
- That given the current fireworks among contending interests in Nigeria which have recently resulted to ethnic and religious profiling, landlordism, threats against each other by some youth driven organizations, the Kaduna summit is the first of its kind in recent memory that brought together the platform for contending interests to constructively engage each other;
- That concerned about the negative consequences of the unfortunate developments on the peace and well being of Northern communities, the participants expressed great delight at the summit and the sponsor, Ford Foundation, which has brought the various contending parties face-to-face to explore the potentials of a people-driven solution to the myriad of problems confronting the people;
- After extensive deliberations and the consequent training on conflict management included as part of the programme, participants make the following declarations;
- That the various social formations, ethnic groups and religious groupings in Northern Nigeria have lived together for centuries, and in time past had various degrees of conflict many of which they resolved using indigenous knowledge through their traditional representatives. We affirm that this striking examples in our communities are still possible to explore today;
- That local communities resolving their own differences, will to a very large extent, complement many other efforts, including but not narrowed to government efforts;
- Dialogue, constructive engagement, peace and stability are key pillars of democracy and sustainable development in Nigeria. We realize this and commit ourselves to the grand principles.
- That since 2009, the Northern parts of the country have witnessed unprecedented killings, murder, inter-ethnic calamities, low scale armed conflict in the middle-belt and extremism in the North East of the country but unfortunately, efforts at healing the festering wounds have not been complemented with people’s affirmative action, even though these crises have taken and continue to reap high human and material toll on the peace loving people of Northern Nigeria.
- Aware that the North is complex in terms of the ethnic, religious, cultural and social configuration and that the demonstrated lack of institutional capacity to effectively manage this cobweb of relations negatively affects the peace, stability and wellbeing of the people of the North.
- Thatwe the representatives of the various social formations in Northern Nigeria are committed to stop these unfortunate incidences which have led to the death of no fewer than 10,000 people many of them women and children. We regret that during these unfortunate incidences, families have been displaced or separated, children killed, homes razed spurring a high number of internally displaced peoples (IDP) in some parts of Northern Nigeria.
- That we now, more than ever before agree as indigenous peoples to explore the opportunity offered by this summit to sit down together out of our own volition to debate the future of our people and the prospect of peace in our territories in which we had lived for centuries.
- We strongly affirm that irrespective of the numerous conflicts in some parts of northern Nigeria, peace is achievable through this current FORD supported initiative, and as kick-started by the Kaduna Declaration. In this direction, we are now more committed to fair-minded and constructive engagement of ourselves either through our own initiatives or fostered by a credible third party.
- That we representatives present here commit ourselves to promoting peace, understanding and solidarity among ourselves and in our various communities.
- That we shall explore the possibility of organizing among ourselves consultations, meetings, towards meaningful engagement so as to promote peace and understanding in our communities and among our various associations.
- We affirm that that the people are central to any peace-building effort. All efforts aimed at peace building will only succeed if the people are the critical stake holders. In this respect, we as representatives, will encourage diverse groups in Northern Nigeria to work together, strengthen new bond of relationship for the peace and wellbeing of the people and our homeland.
- That government and relevant institutions should develop the framework for the constructive engagement of youth groups in Northern Nigeria in a fair, honest manner devoid of partisan politics.
- We express worry that that the current situation in Nigeria calls for grave concern. We commit ourselves to ensuring that the various antagonistic interests who have issued threats and counter threats be brought to a roundtable for peaceful resolution of all grievances so as to avoid avoidable conflict and bloodshed in Nigeria.
- We resolved to collectively further engage the governments of the 19 Northern States to encourage them to set up a Peace and Reconciliation Commission to address the grievances of ethnic and religious groups as a matter of urgency.
- We affirm that poverty, hunger and joblessness have contributed immensely to the emerging culture of fierce armed conflict, extremism, intolerance and restlessness. That the governments of the 19 states of the North should as a matter of urgency set up a Social Security system, drawn from a certain percentage of the yearly budgets, to tackle the problem of extreme poverty in Northern states.
- That we are worried about the proliferation of arms in the hands of non-state actors and that the 19 state governments should urgently work with the Federal Government so as to mop up illicit arms for the good of our communities.
- We commit ourselves to promote periodic meetings among ourselves while expressing profound appreciation to Ford Foundation and JODER for this amazing project.
THIS DECLARATION WE MAKE THIS DAY, JUNE 12 2017 IN KADUNA.