By Omeiza Ajayi & Fortune Eromosele
ABUJA: A non-governmental organization, United Nations Rescue Services, UNRS, and the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, ALGON, have lamented the growing resort to violence in addressing national issues, saying it has concluded plans to hold an international peace conference aimed at promoting unity and nation-building in the country.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja, Global Chairman of UN Rescue Services, Amb. Steve Midalas, described the security situation in the country as a fracture that needs correction, adding that the peace conference has become inevitable as Nigerians need a platform for dialogue.
He said, “In collaboration with ALGON and the Actors Guild of Nigeria, we saw a need for us to call on people of like minds to come together and convene an international summit for peace and unity of our country.
“From July 1 to 3, we shall be convening an international conference on peace and unity of Nigeria, and we are giving Nigeria a new platform. All citizens are hereby called upon to hearken to this call. It is going to be in Abuja at the NAF Centre.
“We are giving an opportunity to all groups in Nigeria who have some grievances or the other against the country to come forward, we are giving you a platform to come and voice your opinions on how we can live in peace because without peace we cannot achieve development in this country.”
He noted that during the summit, an initiative was enacted to conduct a football peace tournament for youths from across the 774 local government areas of the country.
“We understand it is only when there is a football match that Nigerians co-exist. This is so that our youths can interact despite ethnic, religious differences.
“All traditional leaders, religious, youth leaders are hereby invited, the only people we are leaving out now are those holding political offices. We are creating a new platform for all Nigerians to come forward and discuss how to live in peace in Nigeria.
“Our idea is that at the end of the six-month exercise, all the parties who have tabled their grievances, we shall enact a communique and submit to all the three arms of government and come up with a national conference to chart new ways forward in Nigeria.”
Speaking in the same vein, ALGON Chairman, Amb. Bonavenutre Chime said; “We are running a programme under ALGON called ALGON Peace Corps. It is a platform to bring the youths together and campaign holistically for peace and national unity using the platform of football.
“We know that football has power to unify the nation and football has power to mainstream the youths into development, nation-building.
“And we came together to use that platform of soccer to bring Nigerians together. I have not seen a case where killings are going on while football is going on, so it is a platform for peace and national unity.”