From Pwanagba Agabus, Jos
In its continuous efforts to promote peaceful coexistence in Jos North LGA and Plateau State as a whole, the Youth Initiative Against Violence and Human Right Abuse (YIAVHA) has organised a Stakeholders roundtable dialogue on “the Prospects of the Youth Interfaith Relations Network (YIRN).
In his welcome remarks, Executive Director of YIAVHA, Comrade Pwakim Jacob Choji, said, “We felt bringing these stakeholders cutting across civil society, media, security and youths from Jos North LGA to discuss issues on how we can strengthen the Youth Interfaith Relations Network, so that it becomes an effective tool in mobilising young people towards more positive attitudes like governance, human rights, peace building, among others that may impact on communities.
Choji added that, “This programme is also to hear from the professionals and to really bridge the gap between the community actors we have been working with and the other people that are more professional on the job, so that we can all be on the same platform.
“We have also brought in persons to share their experiences in lessons learned from other youth platforms; believing that these community ambassadors are going to be inspired by the level of work that has been done.
“How do they connect?, and at the same time what lessons can they really learn from it? He asked.
It would be recalled that YIAVHA had in October, 2020, commissioned 50
Youth Peace Ambassadors who are drawn from both Christian and Muslim communities in Jos North LGA of the State.
Also Speaking, Director General Plateau Peace Building Agency, Joseph Lengmang, said the agency is working to ensure that an Interreligious Agency is established in the State.
Adding that, a framework has been drafted and submitted to the Governor of the State, still awaiting approval.
Lengmang who was represented by, John Nanfa, urged youths in the state to amplify the use of social media to promote peaceful activities.
He commended YIAVHA for the efforts the organisation is making in curtailing youth restiveness and promotion of peace coexistence among troubled communities.
In his remarks, Commander Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), saddled with the responsibility of maintaining peace in the State, Major General Chukwuma Okonkwo, represented by Navy Captain, Lanre Ajibade, said, “One of the major cause of these challenges in most communities is poverty.
According to him, during the recent looting of palliatives in the state, perpetrators did not consider religion or ethnic group, but worked in unison to loot the palliatives.
He however decried that, “Another major problem of youths in the state, is unemployment, urging government to create job opportunities for the youths.
Okwonkwo called on the rich in various communities to at least reach out to the poor in their communities.
“These poor people you are reaching out to, might even be the ones to protect you in times of unrest”.
Representative of the Department of State Services, Muhammad Gaffar in his remarks, called on government to include peace education in the school curriculum, starting from primary level, so that the children will grow up loving one another, irrespective of their religious or tribal differences.
Mallam Aminu Sheriff while sharing the experience of two border communities (Anguwan Damisa and Bala Kaze, all in Jos North LGA), said, “Hitherto, we don’t see eye to eye, there was so much suspicion between the two border communities.
Sheriff who is the chairman (Breaking the Borders Ambassadors), maintained that, “After several engagements by the Breaking the Borders Project funded by Search for Common Ground, there has been collaboration between the two aforementioned communities, especially in the area of arrests of criminals; because hitherto both communities use to shield their criminals or jungle justice was meted on them”, he stressed.
Also sharing their experience, the Program Officer, JDPC, Simon Afala, said, in the organisation’s little way of promoting peaceful coexistence, they have been able to establish peace clubs in 142 schools in the state, cutting across the three senatorial zones of the state.