The essentials of peace to nation building
By Odimegwu Onwumere
Tony Oyatedor is a veteran journalist and now, publisher of News Times magazine in the United States of America. He told journalists in June this year that if he had the opportunity to set just one agenda for the government of General Muhammadu Buhari, the memo would be for the Buhari administration to work first on peace, not corruption.
Oyatedor was of the panorama that peace is an integral part of human existence without which staying healthy, being happy, memorising and meditating on what matter to mankind, espionage of nature and embracing animals, making out hours for reading, observing the realities of the cosmos, calculating the point where science and the spiritual meet, enjoying millions of money, houses, cars, clothes, gorgeous women, and every other acquisitive thing that life gives would have been a herculean task. It was against that conception that Mahatma Gandhi, the superlative leader of the Indian independence movement in British-ruled India said that an eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.
Regularly, with her huge natural resources and her smart citizens, peace was being endangered by some persons in Nigeria through kidnapping, terrorism, child trafficking, armed robbery, official sleaze and sundry issues. Hence, Nigeria is looking for peace at all cost, as successive governments have not sat on their oars in the fight against the monsters that truncate peace; efforts were being put in place to bring peace back to the country from the honeymoon that some persons regarded as do-nothing have sent it.
Nigeria has been doing this knowing that peace requires an immeasurable laudable toil and the thorniest sacrifice. Nigeria knows that peace stipulates superior intrepidness than confrontation. Against that backdrop, it's observable that Nigeria has always sought for peace amidst the squalls that bully her.
A testament was that at a dinner organised on his behalf in April 2014, in Abuja, for the unveiling of the Universal Peace Federation (a group with its 10 years experience and dedication in building a world of peace, freedom and harmony), Alhaji Bamanga Tukur who’s the Chairman of Nigeria Railway Corporation and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman, said, “No doubt, no meaningful development can be achieved without peace, stability and harmony. It is also true that peace is not mere absence of war, but it is a virtue that springs from force of character.”
Dr Chang Yang, the president of the group, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that he was hopeful that the leaders and people in Nigeria would embrace and support the UPF Peace Education initiative for Nigeria, which could inspire several actions for peace in Nigeria and put behind the story of violence and conflicts. What that meant was that from one organisation to individuals, the clarion call for peace restoration and building in the country was the song on virtually everybody’s lips.
Messages for peace to come back
Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and individuals have seen peace as a top-quality idea. The Peace Initiative Network (PIN) was one group that was clothed towards the promotion of peace in Nigeria, since 2004. The PIN was bent on crusading peace, security, development, poverty eradication, human rights, democracy, governance and inter alia, protecting the vulnerable.
In June, the Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole at the first session of the fifth synod of Diocese of Esan, Anglican Communion at St Andrews Cathedral Eguare Ekpoma where he was represented by his Deputy, Dr. Pius Egberanmwen Odubu, stooped and appealed for the reinstatement of peace, love and prosperity to the country.
In the same month, former Heads of State, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) and General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) in different developments called on Nigerians to support the government in its fight to stop the insurrectionary in the north-east region.
General Babangida made the call after attending the Eid prayer in Minna, the capital city of Niger State. Gowon on his part, made the appeal in Abuja, while addressing Christian pilgrims. The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN) Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, urged the churches to start teaching Nigerians, how to use peace as their contribution to the country’s development.
General Abdusalami Abubakar said in a speech on May 25 2015, in Minna, while biding then Governor Babangida Aliyu farewell that unremitting peace which was ‘enjoyed after the general elections’ must be sustained by the General Muhammadu Buhari administration.
On May 29 2015, former President Goodluck Jonathan, cheering in the civic reception organised in his honour by the Bayelsa government in Yenegoa, the Bayelsa State capital, said that he would use the waiting part of his life for peace building across the country.
Hear him, “Having befitted so much from the rare privilege of serving, I shall dedicate the remaining part of my life to peace building in all parts of Nigeria. I will urge all to support the new administration to develop Nigeria and work with the state government to develop our own state.”
As if that was not enough, religious leaders have been meeting incalculably to discuss religious peace in the country. In their umpteenth argument, they saw that religious tolerance remained the magic-potion for national development.
How peace was persecuted
On June 20 2014, then National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, represented by Special Services Officer, Alhaji Ibrahim Bamiye, at a forum in Lagos, dubbed – National cybersecurity forum – confronted Nigerians with the bombshell that every 9 seconds, a Nigerian commits crime on the internet with a sharp rise in the indices of 0.9% in the 90s to 9.8% in 2014.
Uzochukwu Mike, a graduate from the department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, expressed in a public presentation on June 24, 2015 that among all, the causes of no-peace in Nigeria, with regard to kidnapping activities, were unemployment, poverty, corruptions, grievances, high quest for money and passively, ethnocentricism.
He wept, saying that Nigeria had unimaginable unemployment rate, which resulted to the unemployed taking to crime as a means to make a living. According to him, "A news publication company, Vanguard online news, reported on May 19, 2014, that an estimate of 60 million Nigerians are unemployed.”
Mike added that in the same year, Nigeria ranked 136 out of 174 on the list of the surveyed countries of corruption, which meant that the country was the 38th most corrupt country in the world in 2014, according to Transparency International ranking.
To get out of the conundrum
On August 3, 2012, Suhaib Mohammed, a freelance writer who’s writing on different niche, was aghast that the country’s unity was being woefully threatened by ethnocentricism, sentiments and religious fanaticism. He stressed that, that were the effects in a country with more than 250 ethnic tribes and various religious beliefs divided across geo-political lines – of Muslim North and Christian South.
He said, “Sentiment is one of the major problems that are threatening the cause of unity and harmony in Nigeria. The war of words and tribal feuds are being squabbled by Nigerians all over the country. We must stop making sweeping generalization on other ethnic tribes, and begin to reserve our emotions toward other ethnic groupings if peace and unity must reign in Nigeria.”
That was even as he highlighted the need for government at all levels to engage in massive public enlightenment, especially the ignorant and illiterate population, about unity and peaceful co-existence among the citizenry.
Centre for Peace Advancement in Nigeria (CEPAN), Nigeria, adopted that strengthening local capacities for sustainable peace and development in communities, promotion of peaceful coexistence and harmony among people of diverse ethnic and religious affiliations in communities, promoting peace education among children and young people in school and out of school, empowerment of women and youth for effective negotiation, dialogue and mediation, producing research and documentation, reducing poverty through the promotion of good governance were what the leaders of the country should look at for urgent eradication of the perceived absence of peace in the country.
Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet/Writer; he writes from Rivers State