Recently, Adamawa Peacemakers Initiative (API); a socio-political organisation based in Adamawa state, in collaboration with leading Nigeria’s private university; the American University of Nigeria (AUN), joined the ultimate search for peace in the North East and Nigeria generally.
Both organisations thus; designed a new social technology aimed at restoring peace in the troubled regions of Nigeria through good governance, as against the current expensive military technology that has often depended on arms and bullets.
The search for peace across Nigeria prompted AUN, in collaboration with API, to host a three-day International Peace Conference, which held at the Robert Pastor Library and E Resource Centre of AUN in Yola, Adamawa state capital.
The conference featured series of activities, including paper presentations by selected delegates on the way out of the current security crisis in Nigeria, in addition to a visit to internally displaced persons (victims of Boko Haram insurgency) in Bole community of Adamawa state.
During the visit, the victims were assisted with both material and morale support by the university community and API members, to enable them pull through their current challenges and make a new beginning.
Speaking at the opening session of the International Peace Conference, the President of AUN, Prof. Margee Ensign, outlined the purpose of the conference as understanding the root cause of violence and instability in Nigeria and proposing solutions through recommendations for local policy.
She narrated to the one hundred delegates drawn from various professions how and when the Adamawa Peacemakers Initiative started and also spoke about the challenges of the Adamawa youth, pointing out that it is the duty of the API and AUN to identify the vulnerable ones and unite them through sport, ICT and entrepreneurship training.
According to her, “If we work together and find ways for young people in Nigeria to have hope, then our country will be better for it.”
On the second day of the conference, discussion among the delegates was focused mainly on the potentials of good governance to resolve the numerous security challenges besetting the north east and Nigeria in general.
Recall that Adamawa state and three other states in the north east have been under emergency rule, which was proclaimed earlier by President Goodluck Jonathan, as a measure to stem the tide of Boko Haram insurgency in the area.
However, it is obvious that the emergency rule has achieved far less than it is meant to, hence there has been consistent extension of it by the President, to make the state peaceful once again.
In a letter addressed to the leadership of the National Assembly last month, President Jonathan sought the approval of both arms to his decision to extend the emergency rule for another six months.
In the letter which he personally signed, President Jonathan admitted that the emergency rule has not yielded the expected results.
“The security situation in the three States has remained daunting, albeit to varying degrees, in the face of persistent attacks by members of the Boko Haram sect on civilian and military targets with alarming casualty rates”, President Jonathan said.
Therefore, given the inability of the emergency rule to restore peace, Adamawa Peacemakers Initiative and American University of Nigeria, through the “Good Governance” session of the conference, brainstormed on alternative ways to peace in north east and Nigeria.
During the session, delegates highlighted the capacity of good governance to bring about the expected peace in Nigeria, rather than imposition of emergency rule and use of brute force.
The participants blamed corruption and greed among the political class for the crisis in the country, pointing out that certain aspects of Nigeria’s Constitution, such as immunity clause, promote and encourage the leaders to loot public funds.
In a communique issued after the plenary held in the main campus of AUN, the participants emphasised the need to promote good governance at all levels of government, such as to accommodate shades of interests and opinion.
“Corruption is endemic. Corrupt officials must be penalized. Recruitment to military should be based on merit. Begin a dialogue with Boko Haram and consider amnesty. Government should release reports and implement recommendations of previous panels E.g. Lemu Panel.
“Government should ensure peoples basic needs are provided, E.g. human security. Promote accountability by implementing performance-based governance at all levels, Strengthen the voice of the poor-use social mapping exercises in local communities to determine needs and assets”, the communique reads.
They also called on government at all levels to commit more resources and energy in revitalising the middle class of the economy, adding that there is need to privatise more state functions in Nigeria to the private sector.
According to the communique, “youths should be encouraged to be more interested in politics, in addition to promoting accountability in governance by implementing performance based governance at all levels of government in Nigeria”.
The professionals who were drawn from various fields further called on the political leaders to put measures in place to urgently eliminate the culture of impunity within the political class, suggesting that erasing immunity clause from the Nigeria’s constitution is a right step to take in fighting impunity.
While calling for a positive empowerment of the youths in leadership and democratic process, the delegates also called on government to develop more opportunities for the younger generation.
They further advised federal government to develop other natural resources from non oil endowment in different states to contribute to the nation’s economy, rather than sole dependence on oil.
Addressing delegates at a dinner-lecture held in the lobby of the AUN Hotel, Yola, the Irish Ambassador to Nigeria, Patrick Fay, emphasised the need for politicians to accommodate each other if Nigeria wants to know peace.
Ambassador Fay pointed out that Nigeria is not the first country to experience the current crisis in the country, but called for both moral and political will to resolve the crisis.
He also pointed out that counting the cost of such conflicts is usually painful to both sides of the divide, hence there is need for religious and political tolerance and politicians.
He commended AUN, API for their efforts to resolve the crisis in Nigeria through dialogue dialogue and empowerment, as against the ‘war war’ approaches already in place.
Meanwhile, on the third day of the conference, about 260 persons who graduated from AUN free Information and Communication Technology were presented with certificates of merit at the Commencement Hall of the university.
Commending the recipients, the AUN President charged them to use the knowledge and skill they have acquired to improve not only their lives, but the lives and wellbeing of those around them.
Prof. Ensign, While explaining that the training is part of the commitments of AUN to improve and develop its immediate society and people living in the community, said argued that university education has gone beyond the traditional system to involve practical development of people and environment.
Highlights of the International Peace Conference was a Town Hall meeting held between the Adamawa youths, the AUN community and API at the Commencement Hall of the university.
During the meeting, the Adamawa youths were given opportunity to speak out on their challenges, most of which included education, lack of skills and capital for small scale business.
Responding, the AUN and API promised to come to their aids through free training and empowerment in ICT and other skill acquisition programmes.
Meanwhile, the delegates were conducted around the morden learning facilities across the institution, including the Science Technology Engineering of the school, and Mathematics club (STEM) instituted by AUN in various schools in the state to help inspire students in learning science subjects.