Opinion: Sustaining peace in Nigeria – By ISAAC AREGBESOLA

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Nigeria : Most Nigerians consider absence of war, militancy or agitations to mean that a society is peaceful. But sociologists argue that apart from this view, sustained peace involves creation and maintenance of a just order in the environment and by extension, the society. According to them, healthy interpersonal or international relationships, prosperity in matters of socio-economic welfare, the establishment of equality and a working political order that serves the true interests of all, will make up a sustained peaceful society. They, therefore, note that Nigerians ought to make efforts to create enabling environment for peace by working towards values that constitute peaceful society.

Concerned citizens observe that peace is being threatened as Nigeria is faced with security challenges, involving terrorism in the north eastern part of the country, armed banditry, cattle rustling and kidnapping across the country and therefore, called for concerted efforts at creating peaceful society.

Similarly, they note that there are farmers and herdsmen’s crisis, secessionist agitations, pipeline vandalism, oil bunkering and theft and cultism, which are posing threat to peace. To sustain peace, sociologists argue further that the leadership and citizens ought to understand the inextricable link between development and peace. They insist that peace can only be achieved and sustained when there is justice, fairness and a working political order that serves the interests of all. “Our leaders have to realise that without justice, fairness and equality, there can be no real peace and for our nation to move forward in all ramifications there must be real peace,’’ Mr Gideon Aborisade, a resident of Abuja explains.

In apparent support of this view, the wife of the president, Mrs Aisha Buhari, observed that peace could only prevail in society where justice and equity reign. At the 2018 World Peace Day observance, she said further“peace is only possible when we promote peace and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels’’. Corroborating her opinion, Mr Audray Azoulay, Director-General of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), noted that peace would remain elusive as long as cases of human rights violations persisted. “There will be no peace on this planet as long as human rights are violated somewhere in the world,’’ she said. She recalled that one of the architects of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 observed that “peace would remain an unattainable ideal as long as fundamental human rights are not respected’’. She also said that respect for the fundamental human rights “is a prerequisite for a peaceful society, in which everyone can fully enjoy equal and inalienable rights.

“The ideals of peace and universal rights are challenged and violated on a daily basis; peace is imperfect and fragile unless everyone benefits from it; human rights are either universal or they are not’’. For enduring peaceful society, Emir of Bade in Yobe solicited a role for traditional institution in enthroning lasting peace in the country. He appealed to the Federal Government to consider the role of the traditional rulers as significant to peace making and conflict resolution. “On daily basis we resolve many conflicts in our respective domains to ensure orderliness; I therefore urge the Federal Government to provide the relevant agencies with funds for the training of royal father’s in mediation and conflict resolution. “We shall do our best as royal father’s to ensure peaceful coexistence among the people of the country,’’ he said.

Also, Dr Bakut Bakut, the Acting Director-General of Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, said that the institute had established the National Peace Academy with the hope to produce peace advocates throughout the country. Bakut said that the importance of peace in any given society could not be overemphasised as necessary condition for any development. He called on political leaders and their followers to pursue peace at all cost as the nation moved closer to 2019 general elections. In his remarks, Mr Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation emphasised on the need to sustain peace in the country.

Mustapha admitted that all parts of the country were engrossed in one security challenge or the other. But the Metropolitan Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, underscored the need for the Federal Government to show more commitment in addressing issues of social justice to achieve lasting peace in the country. ‎ According to him, the role of religious leaders in countering extreme religious views and ideologies cannot be over-emphasised. He said that top level religious leaders had a great responsibility to lead the nation in the way of peace and harmony that must be sustained. According to him, the message of peace must also be brought to the lower levels of local religious leaders. ‎Similarly, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, the Director, Muslim Rights Concern, in a message on the 2018 World Peace Day, called for peace in all human relationships and endeavours in Nigeria.

He said that religious leaders owed it a special duty to sustain the government’s peace efforts stressing the need to stop the blame game. “No religion teaches the killing of fellow human beings. Religious leaders must therefore preach love, tolerance and forgiveness. Christian and Muslim leaders in particular must come closer. “ In particular, churches and mosques across Nigeria must rise against hate speech. Those worshipping God have no alternative than to preach peace and promote social harmony,’’ he said. For sustained peace across the world, the global attention is directed towards the need for a culture of peace as the world observes the International Day of Peace on every September 21. Vanguard

Isaac Aregbesola, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

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