The National Orientation Agency (NOA) says that peaceful co-existence among Nigerians is key to ensure sustainable unity, progress and development of the country.
The Assistant Director of NOA in charge of Ohaukwu Local Government Area, Mr Mathew Odonor said this during a one-day peace building sensitisation campaign organised by the agency on Saturday at Umuogudu-akpu community in Mgbo area of the council, Ebonyi.
Odonor in a welcome address entitled; “Beyond the Rhetoric’’ said that concerted efforts must be made toward achieving enduring peace in various communities, which should transcend verbal expressions.
“We must endeavor to explore all the ingredients that build, sustain and consolidate peaceful co-existence and these must go beyond ordinary verbal expressions.
“Without peace, there will be no progress and when there is lack of progress, development is retarded and the human society is subjected to untold suffering and hardship.
“We must make deliberate attempt to shun acts that breed violence, instability, chaos and war as well as resolve to live and co-exist in peace and harmony with one another,’’ Odonor said.
He said that the theme of the sensitisation campaign; “Building a People of Peace: Reinventing the Spirit of Peaceful Co-existence in Nigeria’’ was apt.
The NOA director stressed the need for peace in the family, village, community, state and national levels, adding that the absence of peace in any level of social interactions would ultimately affect national cohesion, stability, and socio-economic greatness of the people.
He said that it was the responsibility of all patriotic Nigerians to work collectively toward curbing the plague of insurgency, militancy, violent agitations, Kidnapping, cultism and hate speech among other vices presently threatening the peace and corporate existence of Nigeria.
“The degree of manifestation of these vices is an affront on the corporate image of the country and an indication that leadership at the various levels have failed so much from their social and constitutional responsibilities.
“Leadership-followership relationship has become so selfish and individualistic that hardly does any group think about the national interest, and this has become the bane of our contemporary society,’’ he said.
He called on parents, religious leaders, traditional institutions to restore these lost values by imbibing the right attitudes and values on their children, adherents and subjects.
“Violence is evil, it is destructive. Peace is not negotiable but it does not mean absence of conflict, but once a people with the culture of peace are built, there can always be a way out of every misunderstanding.
“Each peaceful settlement we make in every conflict creates opportunity for growth and more robust development.
“We must therefore, embrace peace at all times because without peace, there cannot be any meaningful development,’’ he added.
Some traditional rulers, who spoke at the event included; Godwin Ogba, Frederick Oge, Michael Okpoto and Peter Awoke.
They commended the agency for embarking on the exercise, and pledged their support s well as promised to replicate the peace building campaign at their various domains.
According to them, instability, violence and chaos presently bedeviling communities and the country at large demand that everyone make conscious contributions that will lead to achieving a better and prosperous Nigeria.
They further advised youths who indulge in criminal activities and other clandestine behaviour to retrace their steps and imbibe positive life style.
The royal fathers further called on governments at all levels to create jobs to reduce youth unemployment and restiveness, adding that unemployed youths were willing tools being used to perpetrate criminal activities.
Two youths, Messrs John Elom and Magnus Agbo also commended the agency for the sensitisation campaign which they said was needed to re-orientate the mindset of youths who were usually used to orchestrate violence and other criminal activities.
They called on the agency to intensify the campaign and urged youths of the council to engage their energies in profitable ventures and to say no to those who use them to cause violence.
Newsmen report that more than 300 persons including men, women and youths across socio-economic and political strata participated in the exercise.