By Naomi MacMurdie
In the course of the last few months, the country of Nigeria has been no exemption to the challenges brought on by the global pandemic as well as ongoing turbulence and violence resulting from the diversity in religious and tribal denominations.
Muslim, Christian, and diverse tribal volunteers have come together under the leadership of Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Nigeria representatives, including Country Director Rev. John Joseph Hayab and Northern Coordinator Sheikh Haliru Maraya to foster social cohesion and engage communities in the peacebuilding process.
Welcomed in chiefdoms across the country, even once hosting a meeting at the palace of the Ogwom Atakar in Fadan Attakar, the projects to train especially youth and women in peacebuilding leadership has become a vital component of the peacebuilding process for the local communities.
In September, more than seventy youth were selected from different communities in Southern Kaduna participated in one such leadership program. Rev. Hayab appealed to them saying,
“Those killing your brothers, sisters, parents, and neighbors are enemies of humanity not just enemies of a tribe or religion. You must join hands with every peace-loving person even if he is not from your tribe or religion to defeat these faceless enemies. Do not allow them to divide you or make you hate anyone. There are good people in every tribe and every religion and so these good people must try to work with each other and work together for the peaceful coexistence of the community. Any society or community in conflict exposes herself to evil people who will always come around to take advantage of her painful situation.”
Some youth volunteers have even worked together to conduct service projects not only to benefit their community’s infrastructure, safety, and health but also to demonstrate the ability to move forward together despite their different religious or cultural beliefs. Several volunteers worked on the rehabilitation of a bad road in front of the Conoil Filling Station within Kafanchan. The group had met earlier that day, participating in a peace meeting with people gathered from the Takad, Kaninkon, and Fanstwam chiefdoms.
Rev. Hayab and Sheikh Maraya both express the importance of continuing the ongoing programs and have continued to host peacebuilding meetings across the country not only with youth, but also with government, security groups, and various communities who have faced tremendous challenges in peacebuilding.