By Davies Iheamnachor
PORT HARCOURT—THE Rivers State Government has commenced a capacity building programme where it ingeniously pulls leaders of crisis-prone communities to an assembly to brainstorm on how to resolve conflicts, arising from land disputes and other communal issues within their localities without resorting to arms and violence.
The workshop provided opportunities for warring communities Abua/Odua and Gokana local government area to sit down at a roundtable and strategize on how to resolve their differences. Organizers also invited feuding Gokana communities, Bomu and Leewi, B-Dere and K-Dere, Barako and Nwibiara, and Egbunugham Community of Abua/Odua local government, as well as Ogbogolo in Ahoada West local government, bedevilled by crisis over land related matters.
Build local capacity for peace — Abelekum
Speaking at the workshop, structured by the Rivers State Conflict Management Alliance and the office of the Special Assistant to Governor Nyesom Wike on Conflict Resolution, the SA, Chief Okori Abelekum said: “The goal of the workshop in addition to building local capacities for peace is to enable conflict affected communities develop their community reconciliation plans.
“We plan to develop a state-wide reconciliation plan with the support of our partners which reflect the views of affected communities because you understand your problem better and know how to deal with them effectively with the support of government. The governor’s commitment to peace demonstrates the New Rivers Vision where everybody will live peacefully, pursue their goal and realize their full potentials in dignity and happiness.”
Abelekum added: “Bar. Ezenwo Nyesom Wike has initiated several peace initiatives such as the amnesty programme for ex-cultists and supported community reconciliation in conflict affected areas.”
Equipping community leaders to manage conflicts– Nyulaku
Technical and Operations Coordinator of Rivers State Conflict Management Alliance, RSCMA, Mr. Paul Nyulaku, explained: “This workshop is for community leaders in conflict-affected local governments to know how to manage their conflicts. The participants are meant to raise a group of leaders that would engage in managing the different conflicts in their areas.
“They know their problems more than any other person, so they know how to manage them better. We are training these people so that they would go back and engage their people. If this is done there will be peace in the state.
“We see Abua/Odua and Gokana as our pilot. We hope that we will scale up to other local government areas of the state that have conflict. We want to help the communities to develop a community reconciliation plan. Those plans collectively will key into that of the office of the SA to the governor of conflict management.”
LGA boss bemoans killings: Meanwhile, the Caretaker Committee Chairman of Gokana, Mr. Louis Alawa, has bemoaned the recurrent communal crisis in his area
Alawa noted: “Gokana has been ridden by violence in time past and even till now. When I wrote the governor on the situation of things in the area, he told his SA on conflict management to wade into the matter.
“We are happy that this forum has given us the opportunity to have these communities that are having disputes to come and sit on the same table to talk peace. I see this as a process of attaining total reconciliation and peace. I am the only CTC chairman that has suffered this level of crisis. On November 16, 2016, several lives were lost and property destroyed in the area. Few weeks ago, the same thing happened.
“We need peace in our area, peace is very necessary in development. If we do not key into peace, we will lose out of the development that is going on in the state.”
Resolve problems without
arms, violence — Allen
However, Director of RSCMA, Dr. Fidelis Allen, in his address, stated that there was need for communities to adopt traditional means of resolving conflicts without violence. Allen said: “RSCMA is a platform of several NGOs interested in the peace of Rivers state; we urge youths and community leaders to solve their problems peace-fully without resorting to arms and violence.
“Everyone can be agent of peace. We are here to build our capacity to be able to respond to conflict when they arise. We want to reignite those traditional approaches of resolving conflicts without violence.”