By Naomi MacMurdie
Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Nigeria in partnership with the Justice Development and Peace Caritas (JDPC) of the Catholic Arch-Diocese of Kaduna Province is striving to help restore sustainable peace and stability in Nigeria’s Kaduna State by engaging diverse community members of Abakwa and Ungwan Shanu in the Kaduna North Local Government Area.
The one-day roundtable on April 14, 2021 was comprised of some 70 community leaders, including women and youth representatives, to discuss and explore peacebuilding solutions to growing tension and violence in the area.
GPF Nigeria Country Coordinator Rev. Joseph Hayab and JDPC Director Rev. Fr. Joshua Achir highlighted the community’s past peaceful history and encouraged the convening to play their part in revitalizing that standard.
“We observed that people are living in division, segregation, and isolation and from one another,” said Rev. Hayab. “The Global Peace Foundation will be collaborating with as many groups as possible to help in the restoration of peace and togetherness in many communities. We want to begin with Kaduna and then to other states. We feel Nigeria must come back as one. The rate at which there is so much division in our country is too much.”
Also present at the roundtable was the Northern Coordinator for GPF Nigeria, Sheikh Halliru Abdullahi Maraya, who stressed that the leaders must strive together shoulder to shoulder, regardless of their diverse ethno-religious backgrounds, to promote peace in the area as one family.
He cited an example from the time of the Prophet Muhammad who sent a Muslim delegation from Mecca to Ethiopia to meet with a Christian leader of that time. There, both delegations lived peacefully and practiced their religion without any molestation or limitation. Christians in that position felt dutybound to protect the Muslim minority in their communities and vice versa.
“This gathering is very timely because its objective is to restore peaceful coexistence to this beautiful and historic community of Abakpa,” said Sheikh Maraya. “Foreign and internal investors can equally come to the community to invest if they have realized that peace has fully returned to the community. The program also seeks to address how we as human beings can live together in our communities, because we are all members of one family regardless of any differences.”
Rev. Fr. Anthony Ikhenoba, who represented the Archbishop of Kaduna Matthew Ndagoso, stated that conflict may be inevitable but how it is managed is the determinant factor for achieving peace or aggravating the situation. He said that the roundtable discussion provided space for an honest conversation on how to live together peacefully irrespective of their differences.
Speakers and presenters shared several peacebuilding strategies that could be applied to sustain peaceful coexistence and deter criminal activity. Leaders present at the roundtable are striving to spread awareness of the peacebuilding message in Kaduna State while organizers plan to continue forums throughout the region in the future.