…Trains 152 on Interest Based Negotiation and Mediation
By Peter Duru, Makurdi
Mercy Corps, with support from the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, has commenced the implementation of its Community Initiatives to Promote Peace, CIPP, project in four Local Government Areas, LGAs of Benue state with the training of 152 persons on Interest Based Negotiation and Mediation, IBN&M.
Beneficiaries of the training were community leaders, opinion leaders, religious leaders and youth leaders drawn from Buruku, Guma, Agatu and Makurdi LGAs of the state.
Speaking yesterday on the importance of the intervention, Senior Programme Officer of Mercy Corps, Mr. Emmanuel Shall told Vanguard in Makurdi shortly after the training of the last batch of participants from Buruku LGA that the week long training would help sharpen the skills of the participants in the area of mediations and dispute resolution.
According to him, “the essence of the training is to equip the community leaders with the skills and the tools to go back to their communities and engage the opposing parties that they have been in conflict with for so long in a different way and manner.
”Fundamentally, the programme which is called Community Initiative to Promote Peace, CIPP, avails the participants a different approach to solving conflict issues within the communities.
“Based on the research that we carried out in Mercy Corps, we found out that the resolution of conflicts from outside the troubled communities usually do not yield desired results and do not last, but if communities come up with ideas of how to solve their own problems it will be lasting and sustainable.
“That is why this approach is more community driven. And one thing we are sure to do is that as we engage with these community leaders we get them to come up with action plans on how to promote peace within their communities.
“These action plans are not just documents on paper but we make it actionable by further engaging with them to ensure that they do what they have promised they would do from this kind of meeting.
Continuing, Mr. Shall said, “so far the feed back we are getting from these leaders is that this training has proven to be very useful. We discovered that over 90 percent of the participants have never been in a training like this before. It is what we observed from the pretext we gave them.
“Furthermore, the feedback is that they have been well equipped because in the past they do mediation but they did not have the tolls, the requisite skills and knowledge to do it properly.
“But what they are getting from here is the required skill and tools to make their mediation become more successful. The feedback has been very good and encouraging I must tell you,” he added.
On his part, the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for the CIPP project, Mr. John Amara disclosed that six states including Benue, Kogi, Plateau, Kaduna, Kano and Katsina were beneficiaries of the intervention.
“The programme is to prevent violent conflicts in at risk communities.”
On the criteria for selecting participants, Mr. Amara said “the criteria for selecting the participants is that you should be a community leader in your area and you have all it takes to mediate, to negotiate in order to reduce the violent conflict in your community.
“You may not necessarily be a community leader but you may be an opinion leader and you have very good followership in the community where you are able to convince them in such a way that violent conflict would be minimized.”
Explaining further he said “the project is a five year USAID funded project so we will be here working in Benue in the next five years and we believe so strongly that at the end of the project we will be able to reduce incidents of violent conflicts to a zero level.
“We have already conducted the training for delegates and participants that came in from Makurdi, Guma, Agatu and today being the last day we conducted the training for participants from Buruku LGA.
“After this training we will also conduct training for women leaders from the four targeted LGAs. This set of women leaders will at the end of the training go back to their communities where they would be implementing the project in terms of stepping down the training to other leaders within the community all targeted towards violent conflict reduction,” he said.
Also speaking, a traditional ruler and Kindred Head of Kendev in Mbapen council ward of Buruku LGA, Zaki Kunde Agwa who commended Mercy Corps and USAID for exposing the participants to modern and acceptable dispute resolution approaches.
Chief Agwa said, “we have learnt a lot, we believe that if these things were put together before now we wouldn’t have had all these conflicts in our communities. We have been educated on how to go in peace and negotiate and then amicably resolve our differences so that we would not have conflicts among us anymore.
“I commend Mercy Corps and USAID for this wonderful gesture and opportunity to be educated and informed on issues of dispute resolution. I deeply appreciate what we have learnt here,” he said.
On his part the Security Officer for Buruku LGA, Mr. Benjamin Kabon said the training was of an immense value to him and other participants.
“We know that our LGA is a flashpoint which is prone to conflicts and other related crisis. You know that we have been up and doing to ensure that we resolve some of the issues which are within our own powers.
“But with the coming of this training we have been enlightened the more. I am happy to be part of it because from what I have learnt coupled with my background it has added value to my understanding of issues of conflict resolution.
“So if I go back to my LGA the knowledge I have gained from this training will assist me and my management in trying to tackle issues of conflicts and related matters that might confront us as a people,” he added.