By Ibrahim Hassan
Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Chairman of Kaduna Peace Commission, has listed key drivers of conflict in Kaduna State to include competition over scarce resources, negative ethno-religious perceptions, youths restiveness and insecurity.
He said the Peace Commission would continue to pursue deliberate efforts of engaging the diverse stakeholders to promote a culture of dialogue, tolerance and understanding.
He spoke to journalists during their quarterly meeting in Kaduna.
According to him, “since the inauguration of the Commission in November 2017, it has pursued deliberate efforts of engaging the diverse stakeholders to promote a culture of dialogue, tolerance and understanding that will lead to peaceful and harmonious coexistence in the state.”
He said the Commission had, therefore, worked with relevant institutions of government at the federal, state and local levels, the traditional institutions, religious bodies, civil society organisations, the media, political parties, security establishments, women and youth groups, community based organisations and a wide range of the citizenry to tackle the key drivers of conflicts in the state.
“These drivers,” he said, “include competition over scarce use of resources, negative ethno-religious perceptions, youths restiveness and insecurity, among others.”
Archbishop Fearon said the Commission was satisfied with the level of cooperation received from the government and people of Kaduna State.
He noted that “it is this support and the commitment of the people to significantly minimise the protracted inter-communal disturbances that characterise the state in recent years.
“Even with these achievements made possible by people’s participation, inter-communal disturbances are yet to be all over, as there are still occasional threats and violence.
“The Commission and its partners will continue to focus its activities on these areas, and I am optimistic that these disturbances will soon become history.
“Differences will continue to exist and competing needs will continue to exist. However, these should not lead to violence.
“What I am, therefore, advocating is that all grievances, concerns and fears of communities should be addressed and resolved using non-violence means, mainly in the form of dialogue.”
He said the doors of the Commission, including the LGA Peace Committees as well as the doors of many other peace-building organisations, are wide open to communities to table all problems and concerns for amicable resolutions.
Continuing, he said: “Sadly, as inter-communal violence was being addressed, criminality in the form of kidnapping and village raiding is escalating, resulting in death and destruction of properties.
“This is, indeed, a very painful development, especially considering the brutal approach of mass killing by gangs of bandits.”
He called on the government and security agencies to work with the people of the state to address the problem.
His words: “Indeed, there is a strong need to redouble efforts and make available all the needed financial, human and technical resources to bring this menace to an end.
“In the forthcoming months and years, the Commission will redouble its efforts at enshrining the culture of peace and robust social interactions among the diverse ethnic, religious and socio-economic groups in the state.
“The strategic plan of the Commission has already been launched and its implementation is being vigorously pursued.
“Important aspects to be promoted are peace education, interreligious harmony, cooperative approach to addressing shared problems and needs and advocating for integrated social and economic development initiatives that will lead to better social wellbeing and increased economic opportunities, especially for young people.
“There will be increased engagement with the media, youths, women, faith-based organisations, civil society organisations and indeed the traditional and community-based institutions.
“The Peace Commission will deliberately promote the values of the sacredness of human life. Humans of all kinds are created by God Almighty with dignity and honour, and this needs to be fully recognised and respected.
“No person has the right to take away human life, and this sanctity of human life must be inculcated in the minds and hearts of our young people.
Appeals to religious leaders on teachings
“As people of religion, I use this medium to appeal to all adherents of our religious faiths to think deeply and work out modalities for inculcating the right religious teachings among its followers.
“I appeal to the religious leaders in Kaduna State and beyond, to work together to address perceptions that drive religious intolerance.
“Working together and cooperating with each other in doing good will eliminate most of the negative perceptions that have no basis in the religious faiths, thereby assisting communities to attain mutual trust and respect, which is necessary for peaceful and harmonious coexistence.”
The media, he said, should priorities peace, work for peace, report for peace and direct their commentaries and editorials towards peace.
“I appeal to you all to resist the temptations to support any provocative publications that may not be in the interest of peaceful and harmonious coexistence, be it political, ethnic or religious.
“The Commission will continue to count on your support at all times,” he added.