Peace building is a term describing outside interventions that are designed to prevent the start or resumption of violent conflict within a nation by creating a sustainable peace.
Peace building activities address the root causes or potential causes of violence, create a societal expectation for peaceful conflict resolution and stabilize society politically and socio economically.
In 2007, the UN Secretary-General’s Policy Committee defined peace building as a range of measures targeted to reduce the risk of lapsing or relapsing into conflict by strengthening national capacities at all levels for conflict management, and to lay the foundations for sustainable peace and development.
However, Plateau State, situated in the Middle Belt region (North-Central), is one of the crossroads of Nigeria and is home to a diverse population of over 3 million people and over 50 ethnic groups cutting across 17 Local Government Areas.
The State has gone through different stages of conflict or conflict circle times over.
Since 12th April, 1994 when the city of Jos first lost its ambience of peace in a span of over a century, there have been several clashes with improved sophistry in progression.
There was yet another on 7th September, 2001, then that of Yelwan-Shendam in 2004 before the one of November 28th, 2008. As if the very last, January 17th 2010 became that black day when the city of Jos recorded yet another round of violent orgy before the Sunday, 7th March, 2010 killings of scores of people, mostly women and children at Dyemburuk a boundary between Jos South and Barkin Ladi LGAs. It was followed by the 2010, Christmas Eve bomb blast, which also killed scores of people living several others injured, and many with permanent deformation, the August 29th, 2011Rukuba unrest after an Eid prayer, the clash at Barkin Ladi town in October 2011, another was that of 8th July, 2012, where Late Sen. Gyang Dantong and Late Hon. Gyang Fulani, the Majority Leader of the Plateau State House Assembly were killed when unknown assailants attacked them at a funeral, at Maseh village, in Riyom Local Government of the State.
During the crises, the worst hit areas were Riyom, Barkin-Ladi and Jos South Local Government Areas where midnight attacks, killing of farmers and herdsmen on the fields, rustling and theft of cattle as well as the destruction of farmlands became commonplace.
However, in its efforts to stem the tide of conflicts in communities hitherto affected by conflicts, in Plateau and Kaduna States, the European Union had organized dialogue sessions on peaceful coexistence for key stakeholders from the communities, through a Non-Governmental Organisation Community Action for Popular Participation (CAPP), who had trained 1, 200 persons in 40 communities on how to mediate in conflict management amongst communities in the in ten local governments in the aforementioned States.
This intervention is tagged: “Plateau Will Arise” (PWA) Phase 2, is an 18 month programme funded by the European Union, implemented by Search for Common Ground in partnership with Community Action for Popular Participation.
According to the Program Manager, Community Action for Popular Participation, Mr. Nelson Ananze, in a chat with journalists in Jos, at end of the Phase 2 project; said the European Union did some community interventions in some communities in Plateau and Kaduna States.
Ananze added that the “Plateau Will Arise” Phase 2 initiative which is an 18 months programme, commenced in July, 2015, was initially meant for Plateau State, but had to be extended to Kaura LGA of Kaduna State, because it shares boundary with Riyom LGA of Plateau State and sometimes the conflicts spills from Kaduna State to Plateau and vice-versa, hence the need for the extension.
“Plateau Will Arise Phase 2 was specifically directed at consolidating the architecture of peace, tolerance and reconciliation in Plateau and Kaduna States.
According to him, CAPP’s role as implementing partners was to conduct stepdown training on conflict transformation with the two new local governments (Langtang North and Kaura in Plateau and Kaduna States respectively) introduced in the Phase 2 of the project.
“There was training of trainers on conflict transformation and CAPP undertook the stepdown training for the community members in Langtang North and Kaura, which includes youths, local security actors, women and religious leaders.
“Another aspect of the project which we had handled which was also very vast, was the Locally Led Conflict Respond Processes in all the 40 communities in Plateau and Kaduna States, if there are emerging conflict issues, we had gone there to address, through dialogue process, mediation or sensitization.
“In most cases there were land disputes, chieftaincy issues and community issues that might have triggered conflict.
The Program Manager further explained that in other cases were the issue of farmer/herder clashes, most especially in Riyom, Barkin Ladi and Wase local governments; we were able to bring both parties together to talk and find amicable ways of resolving their areas of friction, which was a success.
He maintained that for the “Locally Led Conflict Respond Processes”, sometimes they don’t have to plan before visiting the communities, “we just respond to conflict that is happening in a particular community, before it escalates, which we have done.
On the benefits of the trainings, Ananze said, “The conflict transformation trainings has given the communities some skills on how to resolve conflict locally.
“And from the feedback we are getting, they have been using what they have learned to settle local disputes within their communities. It is when its too much that they bring us in.
“In the area of settling of dispute, for instance, there are some communities in Kwalla district, in Qua’an Pan Local Government, that’s the Mida and Shanfu, for several years they have been fighting over ownership of a particular land, we started right from the first Phase of Plateau Will Arise project, but we could not resolve it, until during the Phase 2 of the project, and now they are leaving peacefully.
Meantime the 40 communities which benefited from the trainings and dialogue sessions includes- Jos North LGA(Anguwan Rukuba, Congo-Russia, Jenta Adamu and Kabong), Jos South LGA (Bukuru, Gyel, Gero and Kuru), Riyom LGA (Bachi, Ganawuri, Riyom town and Rim), Barkin Ladi LGA (Soi, Sho, Kok and Bisichi).
Others are Bokkos LGA (Manguna, Fakkos, Mbar and Mongor), Shendam LGA (Shendam town, Yelwa, Yemini and Kuka), Wase LGA (Wase town, Kadarko, Duwi and Lambs), Qua’an Pan LGA (Kwala, Doemak, Namu and Kurgwi), Langtang North LGA (Kuffen, Pilgani, Bwarat and Gazum), all in Plateau State, while Kaura LGA (Kagoro, Kaura town, Maro’a and Takad) are in Kaduna State.
With all these efforts put in place by Search for Common Ground and Community Action for Popular Participation, backed by the European Union, would the desired peace be achieved?
In the case of Plateau, relative peace is being enjoyed in over a year now; but for Kaduna State same cannot be said as most communities in the Southern Senatorial District of the State are facing serious security challenges.
However, only time will tell, as these measures are being implemented.