As her contributions to the peaceful resolution to the return of peace in the southern Kaduna and other parts of Nigeria, a global civil society group and UN affiliate, Heavenly culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light, HWPL, has unveiled a peace plan for stakeholders.
Making its intent public at its maiden seminar in Gwarinpa, Abuja weekend, its Nigeria coordinator, Dr. Terwase Isaac Sampson, told participants that it plans to engage stakeholders from the affected areas for dialogue.
Dr. Terwase noted that there was need for peace even as his organisation was collecting signatures and letters of support as part of the legislative peace campaign in Nigeria.
He informed that HWPL was organising advocacy events for the Declaration for Peace and Cessation of War, DPCW, through various channels to bring together all sectors of the society for peace and cessation of war.
Part of the action plan, he explained, will include establishing peace parks, monuments, museums, running of peace walks, conferences, seminars and lectures.
Dr. Terwase, added that it was developing cooperative relationship with other sister organisations to build global network for support.
He noted that, for its work to be felt in Nigeria, Dr. Terwase, who is also a scholar at the National Defence College, NDC, Abuja, said HWPL was lobbying to get the support of the National Assembly, the Federal Government as well as the leadership of the faith based organizations to entrench peace and prevent war situation.
“The group plans advocacy conference with stakeholders in the crisis ridden southern Kaduna, the south south as well as the southeast to discuss peace initiative.”
On Saturday, November 12 2016, 29 communities in the Southern senatorial zone of Kaduna State unveiled what they called a ‘peace apology billboard’ in Samaru-Kataf, Zangon Kataf Local Government Area (LGA) of Kaduna State.
The meeting was part of initiatives by a non-government organisation led by the Senior Advisor to the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue in Africa, Alice Nderitu, who came up with the idea that having billboards placed at strategic parts of the zone will serve as a conscious reminder to residents on the need to abstain from violence for them to live peacefully with one another.
The erection of the sorry billboards led to the donation of N100 million for the rebuilding of religious houses burnt down during the crises. This is just one of the many efforts so far made to bring lasting peace to Southern Kaduna where no fewer than 20, 000 persons are said to have lost their lives in the various crises in the area.
Since a major crisis erupted in southern senatorial zone of Kaduna State in 1980, there have been no less than 12 major crises in the area. The violence, destruction and bloodletting that usually occur in such incidences are so enormous that they attract sympathy from across the globe.
As part of the process, previous administrations in the state have set up commissions of inquiry which looked into causes of the crises and made recommendations towards resolving it while some have offered ideas on how peace can be achieved.
The current administration in Kaduna State has had its own fair share of the crisis and has continued with initiatives towards finding lasting peace with contributions from individuals and organizations, including federal agencies, security agencies, religious bodies, and other non-government organizations. These include the intervention by traditional rulers in the state, the visit by a former head of state, Abdulsalam Abubakar and other members of the National Peace Committee, which include the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese Matthew Hassan Kukah and other prominent Nigerians.
There were also various interventions from the Senate ad hoc Committee on Southern Kaduna crisis, the Northern States Governors’ Forum, prominent traditional rulers from the North and other NGOs.
The height of the intervention was the recent laying of the foundation stone ýfor the building of two military formations in the zone.
Shortly after fresh crises broke out in the zone last year, the state governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai went to meet with the military authorities in Abuja and secured a commitment from the federal government to establish two military formations in Southern Kaduna to ensure security in the zone.
Governor El-Rufai who was at the foundation laying ceremony promised that his government will start the process of giving the army title to the land saying he is determined to give the army a structure to start their operations before the completion of the barracks.
Due to these developments, many have expressed hope that the peace building processes would yield results.
The Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, rising from its meeting, commended the initiative of the northern governors to meet with traditional rulers over the Southern Kaduna issue, saying it is a positive development that will lead to peace.
Governor El-Rufai’s efforts include meeting with traditional rulers and heads of security agencies. He also met with chairmen of Interim Management Committee of the affected local governments, the Area Commander of Nigerian Police, Kafanchan Area Command, all Divisional Police Officers, traditional rulers and Ardos of Fulani communities.
The governor however believes that it is the failure of the previous administrations to deal with those found to be behind the crisis that has worsened the situation.
“We have studied reports of all committees and commissions of inquiries set up from 1980 to the time we came into power. What we discovered is that negligence of previous governments to implement recommendations encouraged the spate of insecurity to continue unchecked in the state. From that time to date, Kaduna has experienced 12 religious and ethnic conflicts,” he stated.
General Abubakar who led the National Peace Committee says he believes the situation is not irredeemable. “We are here due to the recent happenings in Southern Kaduna. And from here within the week, we are going to meet with other stakeholders, religious leaders, the Chiefs in the area and also visit the site where these problems are and discuss with the people, after which we will now sit down and see what we think should be done.
“We will come back to the governor and also if necessary, to the federal government. Considering that these clashes and killings are not only limited to Kaduna State, but something that is engulfing the country. So we want to make sure that peace reigns in Nigeria. To make sure that people know that we are together, we have to live in peace with each other. We are reaching a situation in the country where human life doesn’t mean anything to people and this is wrong,” he stated.
The Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin who also visited the zone went round affected areas and used the opportunity to assess the on-going peace keeping operation by troops. He also visited the chief of Kagoro and the Emir of Jema’a in their palaces where he appealed for understanding.
“I am here to have an on the spot assessment of the situation so as to have the full grasp of the happenings, and also to know what has been put in place by the security agencies and secondly, to reassure the people of our commitment to pursue and ensure peace in the region.
A non-governmental Organization, Global Peace Foundation Nigeria (GPFN) also contributed to the process as it met with indigenous Fulani Ardos, youth and members of the Academia of Fulani extraction in Southern Kaduna.
The Country Director of Global Peace Foundation Nigeria, John Oko noted that the foundation organized the consultative meeting in line with its vision of One Family Under God Campaign with a view to facilitating and enhancing the process of mediation for amicable resolution of the problem bedevilling the area.
The Kaduna State Council of Chiefs and Emirs, in their intervention through a solidarity visit to Governor El- Rufai, condemned the cycle of killings in southern Kaduna.
Chairman of the council and Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Idris, who led council appealed to security agencies and government at all levels to urgently tackle hate speech.
He said: “We must work hard against these threats to our peace and unity. We are also here to commiserate with His Excellency on the attack of his convoy when he visited Kafanchan,” adding that the government should not be left with the responsibility of security alone.
The Primate of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, Dr. Samuel Chukwuemeka Kanu also visited Kaduna on a similar mission. He called on the people of the state while meeting with El-Rufai to eschew violence.
“It is unnecessary, it is callous, and it is dastardly for anybody to take human life. That bothers on intolerance. Everybody must learn to live together as Nigerians, irrespective of our religion, our tribes or ethnic
cleavages. We should avoid religious bigotry, we should avoid chauvinism and casting slur on others as if they are inferior. This nation is our common inheritance and we should promote love,” he said.