The National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) organized a two -day National Conference on Culture, Peace and Security: the Role of Women and Youths. The Conference was conceptualized by the Institute for relevant stakeholders, various interest groups, researchers and scholars to deliberate and exchange views on critical security issues from the cultural perspective.
The programme had in attendance the Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Deaconess Grace Gekpe, ably represented by Mrs. Memunat Idu-Lah, a Deputy Director in the Ministry. The conference was chaired byHonourable Justice Itu Ntong of the State High Court, represented by his wife Mrs. Theresa Ntong, Esq, Chairman Ikot Ekpene Customary Court; the Director General Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution represented by Mrs. Grace Awodu; Deputy Director in the Institute; State Commander, Federal Road Safety Commission Akwa Ibom State, represented by Assistant Corps Commander Chinwendu Iwouha; the Rector, Federal Polytechnic, Ukana Dr. Uduak Ukekpe, represented by Deputy Rector, Mr. Edet Elijah Etuk; the Accountant General of Akwa Ibom state, represented by Mrs. Helen George; the state Coordinator, NYSC, Mrs. Jane Okpongete; Commissioner, Akwa Ibom State, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Sufficiency, Edet Precious.
Also in attendance were representatives from various Federal Governmentagencies like National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Code of Conduct Bureau, Nigerian Copyright Commission, Nigerian Immigration Service etc.
In his welcome address the Acting Executive Secretary, NICO, Mr. Louis Eriomalastated that the National Conference on Culture, Peace and Security instituted in 2012 was NICO’s flagship programme because of the indispensability of peace and security to National Development. He expressed the view that urgent steps must be taken by all stakeholders to fashion out strategic plans for youth engagement and empowerment so that their potential, creative energies and resourcefulness can be beneficial to socio-political and economic development.
The Chairman of the Conference, the Honourable Justice Ntong, represented by Mrs Theresa Ntong Esq, lamented that the cost of organised crime in Nigeria could hardly be estimated and appealed to the youths to desist from being procured into violence while the women who were victims of violence should exploit their natural role as home keepers and intervene where others had failed.
The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Information and Culture traced the security challenges bedevilling the nation to the erosion of our cherished cultural values which were gradually being replaced by negative tendencies and reiterated that preventing violent conflict and extremism was imperative for the development of any nation.
The technical sessions were chaired by Prof. Effiong Johnson, Dept. of Theatre Arts, University of Uyo. The Discussants were Associate Prof. Imaobong Akpan, University of Uyo; Dr. Ukpong Udofia, University of Uyo and Dr. Ikike Inieke, Theatre, Film and Carnival Dept, University of Calabar. Six papers were presented by erudite scholars: “Continuous Cultural Orientation for Nigerian Youths: Imperative for Sustainable Peace in Nigeria” by Prof. Peter Esuh, Dept. of Communication Arts University of Uyo; “Thinking Outside the Box: New Strategies for Sustainable Peace and Security in Nigeria” by Edet George Ubeng; “Women Empowerment as Antidote to Security and Violent Extremism in Nigeria” by Dr. Ifure Ufford- Azorbo, Dept. of Theatre Arts University of Uyo; “Re-Inventing Culture in the Quest for Sustainable Peace and Security in Nigeria” by Dr. Udeme Nana; “The Interplay between Culture, Peace and National Development” by Prof. Aniekan Brown, University of Uyo; “Lesson from Conflict: Rethinking the Role of Women and Youths in Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Nigeria” by Prof. .Bakut T. Bakut, Director General, Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Abuja.
The conference observed and resolved as follows;
- That peace and security is a sine qua non for any meaningful progress to take place in the country, therefore, continuous cultural orientation on new themes such as peaceful co-existence, patriotism, perseverance, fair play, responsibility and discipline, humanism, cultural relations etc. are imperative.
- That the main causes of Nigeria’s conflict which include the struggle for resource control, ethnicity, corruption, poverty, inept political leadership, unemployment etc can be resolved through good and responsive leadership which will facilitate allround development.
- Prevailing threats like cybercrime, terrorism, kidnapping, drug abuse, cultism etc. have negative consequences on the society and can be checked through strategic solutions like social re-engineering, restructuring, review of cultural practices that promote insecurity, the application of the Federal character principles and the inculcation of the consciousness for rightness.
- That the youths are partners/stakeholders with a demographic advantage and should be protected, initiated into peace building processes, political associations and governance with their status and roles enhanced.
- That modernity has weakened the strong ties of ancestral relationships and kinship, premium trust of one another, communal responsibility etc. Therefore, the culture where ‘somebody was somebody’s somebody’should be re-invented and strengthened in our resolve to sustain peace and security in our country.
- That poverty is a major obstacle to the realization of women’s rightsand human rights, so women should be empowered politically, socially while entrepreneurship culture should be introduced for the good of the society.
- That the belief that government will help everyone with start-up capital should be jettisoned and citizens be encouraged to save towards self-empowerment which will enhance confidence and be ready to start small.
- That the conspiracy of silence by elders and parents towards the misdemeanour of youths and children has fuelled violence in our nation. Elders and parents are therefore enjoined to take back their stolen voices and condemn these negative behaviours.
- That women and youths have been marginalized in conflict management despite their abilities and leadership capabilities in conflicts resolution. In order to harness these abilities, women and youths should be included in the national action plan for conflict resolution.
- That if we leave off our differentials, come together on principles andbecome more nationalistic, we can pursue the development of our nation.