A certified peace management training programme organized by DEAN Initiative took place recently at Kuje Town Hall, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory with the Executive Secretary of National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Prof. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, commending DEAN Initiative for its relentless efforts at promoting a cordial relationship between the citizens and the security agencies on one hand and forging synergy among the security forces towards forming a formidable coalition against insecurity and terrorism.

Giving the commendation while delivering a paper, entitled, “Understanding Culture and Religion in the Management of Peace in Nigeria”, Ayakoroma stated that the reality of Nigeria’s multi-ethnic and multi-religious composition makes the management of peace a herculean challenge and that NICO was ready to engage in strategic partnerships with agencies and institutions that are genuinely committed to the promotion of the culture of peace and non-violence in Nigeria.

LexiRepresented by the Director, Orientation and Cultural Affairs, NIO, Mr. Alex Omijie, the NICO helmsman emphasized that culture is a critical factor in development and should be accorded priority attention, as recommended by UNESCO, noting that many of the Asian countries and Brazil have become economic giants because they made culture the bedrock of their development.

Ayakoroma also observed with dismay that religion was being used by politicians and other unpatriotic elements in the Nigerian society for their selfish gains, saying a situation where citizens pledged loyalty more to their ethnic and religious groups than to the country portends danger for the peaceful co-existence of the country.

He used the occasion to inform participants of NICO’s intervention in the promotion of peace and security over the years, stating that, NICO has organized three conferences in collaboration with UNESCO, where stakeholders were educated on the importance of peace and security to national development and to appreciate their roles in the Nigerian project.

On the way forward, Prof. Barclays Ayakoroma suggested that an aggressive re-orientation programme that would foster a change of mindset was urgently desirable, quoting from the preamble to the UNESCO Constitution, which states that, “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of war should be constructed”.

He also recommended that the Nigerian government should give serious attention to quality education for Nigerian children and youths, because, according to him, a well-educated citizenry is less likely to be manipulated for evil; and he further suggested that the issue of youth unemployment should be addressed urgently as the army of unemployed youths can easily be recruited for criminal activities.

Concluding, the NICO ES said that there was no doubt that the greatest challenge that has bedevilled our development as a nation has been the spate of ethno-religious conflicts since independence and that the way forward as advocated by experts and scholars was for the Government to engineer a change of mindset in the citizenry.

To him, there has to be a massive re-orientation programme whereby Nigerians will not only embrace the virtue of tolerance but will also imbibe the spirit of national consciousness, integration and patriotism.

The Amana 2.0 Peace and Unity Project is aimed at fostering trust, friendship and cordial relationship between the police/other security agencies and the youths in the Federal Capital Territory through the instrumentality of a peace management training, dialogue and entertainment package.

The programme, which was sponsored by the Embassy of the United States of America (USA), Abuja, had officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Nigerian Army, Nigeria Police and students of the University of Abuja, Road Transport Workers and other sectors in attendance.

Jackson Onobun

OCA Dept.

NICO HQ, Abuja