The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says sustenance of peace and security in Nigeria is the responsibility of traditional rulers, media, religious bodies and civil society organisations as stakeholders.
Mohammed said this on Tuesday at the opening of a two-day conference on “ Culture, Peace and National Security: The Role of Traditional Rulers, held at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan.
The conference was organised by the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
Represented by the Director of International Cultural Relations in the ministry, Mr Richard Maku, Mohammed restated the Federal Government’s commitment to ensuring peace and security.
“It’s also a fact that until we are able to entrench a culture of peace and non-violence in our body polity, all efforts geared towards development would be a mirage,” he said.
Also speaking, Gov. Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State advised state Houses of Assembly to identify a specific day for the conduct of their proceedings in the dominant language spoken in every state, saying such a practice would help in promoting the indigenous culture of the people.
“Also, our mode of dressing should be promoted culturally to enhance our esteemed culture; all of us should join hands to promote our different cultures so that it will not go into extinction,” he said through his Chief of Staff, Dr Gbade Ojo.
The Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Ayo Banjo, identified peace as a critical factor for steady development of any society, emphasising that a society must place a premium on its collective effort to foster peace and unity.
Earlier, NICO Executive Secretary, Mr Louis Eriomala, said the institute was established to harness the country’s rich cultural heritage for national development.
Eriomala noted that the conference was conceptualised in 2012 to underscore the importance of cultural dimension in the quest for sustainable peace and security in Nigeria.
He said peace as well as security of lives and property result in meaningful progress and development of every society, adding that urgent steps must be taken to address factors responsible for escalating conflicts such as poverty, ethno-religious bigotry and political violence.
“Failure to address these issues will lead to channelling of resources, which should have been used for human development, to military and security interventions.
“If Nigerians are adequately sensitised to appreciate the critical importance of peace and security to the fulfilment of their yearnings, threats to peace and security will be drastically reduced,” he said.
He maintained that remarkable achievements would be recorded if peace and security challenges faced by the country were adequately tackled from people’s cultural dimension.
“A constitutional role for traditional rulers is imperative, a bottom-up mobilisation approach steered by our highly esteemed monarchs will greatly complement the efforts of the nation’s security agencies,” he said.
Participants at the conference included traditional rulers as well as personnel of National Orientation Agency, Nigerian Police, other security agencies and National Commission for Museum and Monuments.