Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Awka, the Anambra State capital, was agog recently during the Peace Day Conference organised by the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR).
The event, the first in the South-East, was organised in conjunction with the Anambra State Government to commemorate the United Nations (UN) 2020 World Peace Day.
With the theme “Shaping Peace Together,” participants reiterated the need to promote peace at all times in place of war, strife and communal clashes.
Head, South-East Zonal peace-building office of IPCR, Princess Amaka Uzodimma, said the essence of the conference was to sensitise the people of the South-East on issues relating to sustaining peace and shaping peace together.
She said that most people were unaware that a day was set aside globally to celebrate peace, most especially in the South-East. She expressed gratitude to the Anambra State government for its support which made such a ceremony a reality in Awka so that the people could be a part of the global peace initiative.
IPCR Director-General, Dr Bakut Bakut said the Peace Day celebration provided opportunities for a rethink on issues of conflicts and adoption of peaceful resolution strategies to the challenges of violent conflict which he noted had destroyed the economies and national cohesion of many countries.
Represented by the Head, Gender, Peace and Security/ IPCR International Peace Day Committee, Awodu Grace, the Director General said in keeping with the UN resolutions, the IPCR as the apex federal government agency with the mandate of promoting peace, conflict management and resolution in Nigeria and Africa, commemorates the Peace Day with partners and lovers of peace around the country yearly through several activities.
He listed such activities to include road walks, school projects, competitions, media chats, novelty football matches and annual peace lectures among others.
He said the year 2020 marks 75 years of existence of the United Nations and 60 years of Nigeria’s independence but expressed regret that the COVID-19 pandemic has curtailed social interactions, caused calamitous devastation of national economies ,loss of jobs and an adverse effect on insecurity.
“We call on all to end all forms of armed violence, armed banditry and criminality and adopt a culture of peace to every conflict through dialogue and building solidarity and cooperation across borders, sectors and generations. Conflict is a major distraction to efforts being made at combating this pandemic because scarce resources, energy and time are wasted in quelling them and reconstruction while COVID-19 ravages the country,” he said.
Traditional Ruler of Obosi community, Igwe Chidubem Iweka said something like the UN General Assembly declared Day of Peace has been working in his community, noting that the annual Obiora Festival was usually marked with a mandatory four days of total peace. He said anybody caught bickering or fighting within the four-day period is seriously punished.
The royal father said ultimately, the effectiveness of the officially assigned day of peace lies in awareness and willingness in compliance.
“The achievement of peace in all echelons of humanity lies in the hands of each and everyone. From the taxi driver on the street to the Secretary General of the United Nation, to play our obligatory roles in the cultivation of peace wherever we find ourselves. Our political campaigns and elections in Nigeria are still primitively plagued with violence, murder and assassination. We must all join hands to shape peace together in Anambra State and the world at large,” he pleaded.
The Clerk, Anambra State House of Assembly, Pius Udoh, who represented Governor Willie Obiano at the conference said the governor as a peace loving man has always initiated moves and actions that engendered peace in the state.
He said through the provision of security to the citizens, Governor Obiano has reduced crisis and unrest to the barest minimum in the state, adding that such have been driving investment opportunities to the state.
Chairman, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, South-East zone, Alhaji Gidado Siddiki said Governor Willie Obiano had fostered peaceful coexistence between the herdsmen and farmers in Anambra State.
A resource person, Austin Onuora in a presentation titled: ‘Examining the coping mechanisms of small businesses during the COVID-19 lockdown and its implication for peace-building,’ regretted that while governments of many advanced countries assisted small businesses and individuals to survive the harsh effects of the lockdown, it was a different story altogether in Nigeria.
Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria, Anambra State chapter, Rev. Ndubisi John, called on all citizens to be agents of peace in Nigeria.