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Ethnic, community groups launch fresh peace building platform

Major stakeholders in Nigeria on Tuesday July 30, in Lagos launched fresh effort towards peace building and conflict prevention amidst real and imagined threats to stability occasioned by a wave of violence and hate killings spreading across the country.

The opening ceremony of the initiative was attended by over 100 participants mainly leaders and youth representatives of Nigeria’s diverse ethnic groups, civil society, security operatives and top government officials.

The programme was put together by foremost Nigerian media group, Journalists for Democratic Rights, (JODER) and the New York based Institute of International Education, (IIE) facilitated by the Ford Foundation West Africa Regional Office. The project focuses on Lagos, Nigeria’s former capital, the country’s most significant State and host to the country’s different and diverse groups.

The 12-month programme involves extensive training for youth leaders and community based groups, CBOs on strategy and tactics of peace building, management and prevention of conflict. It also involves advocacy visits, media outreach, workshops and community engagements.

After the opening ceremony, the Special Guests left leaving about 35 participants for the training on negotiation and setting agenda of peace conducted by a former United Nations, (UN) peace keeping officer, Lt Col Ayo Ajayi.

Participants held that the summit was coming at a difficult moment for Nigeria, a country of 190 million people bedeviled by recent mass killings, kidnapping for ransom, violent extremism, ethnic suspicion and terrorism. The organizers put the programme together as a people-driven initiative aimed at free, prior and constructive engagements of stakeholders towards prevention of the myriad of potential conflicts that star constantly put the nation at a cliff edge.  The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes has estimated about 64,000 Nigerians are murdered every year in Nigeria. Homicide rate is put in the North East at 70 percent of 100,000 inhabitants and 65 percent for the same number in the North-Central

The Guest Speaker, retired Head of Department of African Studies in many American Universities including Harvard University, Prof Banji Akintoye said Nigeria was at a critical junction in her history.

He said “We are facing a terrible hydra-dreaded monster of ethnicity, extremism, mass killings in the face of a grossly incompetent political leadership. We hundreds of people killed everyday. Gang banditry is taking firm roots in Nigeria. Killings and maiming of innocent people have become a way of life. The security operatives appear helpless. There is the real fear that something terrible may happen unless efforts life this are put in place.” He said the prospect of a government-driven peace and conflict prevention mechanism in Nigeria is remote.

Other speakers were Sec General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dim Uche Okwukwu, Secretary General, Ijaw World Congress, (IWC) Mr Digifa Werenipre, representative of the Eze Ndigbo, Pastor Joe Ihitegbulem, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, (AYCF), Suleiman Tijani, The Etsu Nupe of Lagos, Alhaji Jubrin Dogo, the Onu of Igala, His Royal Highness, Sanni Yakubu Ejima and others

Apart from terrorism, Nigeria is confronted with the problem of kidnapping and herders-farmers violent clashes blamed largely on Fulani herdsmen. An estimated 30,000 Nigerians are believed to have lost their lives in related conflict in the past few years.

The leader of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, (MACBAN) Alhaji Abdullahi Lailiga whose group is blamed largely for the kidnapping and banditry in some parts of Nigeria, said his nationality has been demonized through ethnic profiling and stereotyping which he said are promoted by the media. “We are not all bad people. There may be a few bad eggs but these elements are in all the ethnic groups in Nigeria,” he said. He added that the summit provided the first opportunity for the Fulani people to meet those who see them as “murderers” saying his group is ready to share their fears and aspirations with other Nigerians.

Speaking at the programme, the Executive Director, Journalists for Democratic Rights, (JODER) Mr Adewale Adeoye said “We have designed this peace building and conflict prevention project to last for one year, bringing together the variegated colours of our diverse people, exploring their rich indigenous knowledge, walking with them and creating a nexus that will strengthen the bond of peace and brotherhood.”

He said further “We move from the premise that peace is indeed possible. Peace is cheaper. It is cleaner. It is friendlier and more comfortable to live with than violence and conflict.”

He said “We shall be working withorganized youth groups, leaders and members of ethnic associations, leaders and members of community-based organisations, (CBOs), civil society, professional groups with records of active involvement in disputes. We shall organize training, advocacy visits, campaigns and programmes aimed at ensuring peace and conflict prevention in Lagos and by inference in Nigeria as a whole.

Some of the aims of the project are to prevent a major ethnic backlash, rebuild fractured solidarity and friendship among the various ethnic and social formations in Lagos State, subdue and prevent a major conflict in Lagos between the different ethnic groups, use Lagos as an example of cooperation and peace building among Nigeria’s ethnic groups and also identify the key actors and facilitate constructive round table engagements towards peace and mutual cooperation in Lagos and Nigeria at large.

Other participants at the event included representatives of Ijaw, Shuwa Arab, Igbo, Hausa, Fulani, Yoruba and other nations, Oodua Peoples Congress, (OPC), O’odua Liberation Movement, (OLM), Ohanaeze Ndigbo, United Middle Belt Indigenous Peoples Congress, (UMBIPC), representatives of professional bodies, labour, artisan groups among many others.

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After the Working Group meeting in Lagos. L – R: Adewale Adeoye, Kudu Abubakar, Miss Aisha Abass, Samuel Bakare and Taiwo Adeleye

Advocacy visit to the Sarkin Fulani of Lagos and South West; Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar Bambado at His Palace in Surulere, Lagos.

Members of the Working group on advocacy visit to the Onu of Igala, Lagos State; His Royal Highness, Sanni Yakubu Ejima, at his palace in Oworosoki, Lagos

Members of the working group on advocacy visit to Chief of Nupe Ethnic Group in Lagos, Alhaji Jubril Dogo, Lagos State. L – R: Kudu Abubakar, P. A to the Director, Director of State Security Service, Adewale Adeoye and Taiwo Adeleye

Hausa – Fulani farmers at their biggest market in South West located in Mile 12 Outskirt of Lagos.

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  1. The 14 to 45 year old males will be bearing arms directly whether or not they like it. About half of them will die within the first year of conflict. At least 30% of females in this age range will be raped and probably killed.“`


  1. The bulk of 0 to 13 year olds will grow up as orphans. 10% will be killed in the first year and another 50% will perish from neglect in subsequent years.“`


  1. The population above from 46 to 65 years will have their dreams finally destroyed and will die out rapidly from lack of a will to survive the hardship and stress.


  1. The population above 66 years will have no support to survive and will die slow lonely deaths, some through starvation and neglect.


  1. Crime rates will multiply ten fold given the unbridled access to arms and ammunition. There will be no safe havens given current trends.


  1. Life expectancy will drop to 21 years from the current 47 years.


  1. If the conflict lasts longer than one year the worlds largest refugee problem would have been created. Nigerians will flee into Niger, Chad, Benin Republic and Cameroon. A one way journey for most as these countries are completely unprepared for the potential influx of humiliated Nigerians.


  1. Through CNN, Aljazeera, and other media houses we will become the global laughing stock with no idea of what next to do.


  1. Present day uncompromising voices will run away to safety. Shamelessly so. The afore mentioned victims will be drawn from ordinary folk.


*No one (North, South, East, or West, etc) will be immune.






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