The Executive Governor of Plateau State, His Excellency, Simon Bako Lalong has commended the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), for organizing such a very important conference which was not only apt but timely because of its thematic focus on peace and security in Nigeria.

Governor Simon Lalong in his keynote address at the NICO Three-Day national conference on “Culture, Peace and National Security: The Role of Women and Youth” in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) held in Crest Hotel, Jos, Plateau State  from Tuesday 10th – Thursday 12thAugust, 2021 said that, he accepted to identify with the conference because he is mindful of the fact that no government  can meet  the yearnings and aspirations of its people in an atmosphere of chaos and insecurity.  

 The Governor, represented by his Deputy, Prof. Sunni Tyoden also informed that one of the measures the state government has taken to enlighten his people to tolerate one another, sink their differences and embrace peace was to institute a FORGIVENESS DAY which holds every 7th of March, annually.

His words: “As a platform, the Forgiveness Day is to sensitize our people to sink their differences and embrace peace which is sine qua non for the growth and development of the state. This strategy can be replicated nationwide. There is no gain saying the fact that if the present state of insecurity in our nation is to be successfully addressed, concerted efforts of all and sundry is required”.

 Simon Lalong further suggested some management strategies that could help ameliorate insecurity. Such strategies would be mass education and sustained continuous enlightenment on the importance of peaceful coexistence, patriotism, and security to national development. Also to educate the citizenry on the negative consequences of insecurity.

Concluding, Governor Lalong reiterated the determination of the Plateau state government to consolidate on the measures taken so far to promote enduring peace and security in the state while also working in synergy with other states to foster national peace and security. As he looked forward to a robust deliberations and commendations of the conference.

 Earlier, Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed commended the management of NICO for conceptualizing and sustaining the implementation of the national conference since 2012 when the inaugural edition was held. Saying that, “the theme of this edition which focuses essentially on the role of women and youth in the quest to entrench a culture of peace and non-violence in Nigeria” was very apt.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, represented by the Director, International Cultural Relations, Mrs. Memunat Idu-Lah further pointed out that in order to reverse the present state of insecurity in Nigeria, all hands must be on deck as well as the collective efforts of government at all levels in conjunction with the institutions, religious bodies, civil society groups and the family are urgently required to overcome the monster of insecurity in Nigeria.

He stated that the President Buhari-led administration is committed to ensure that no stone is left unturned to end insecurity in Nigeria, and that the president has promised to use everything within his constitutional powers to end insecurity in Nigeria and bring the criminals and the sponsors to justice.

The Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Mallam Ado Muhammed Yahuza in his welcome address explained that the national conference on culture, peace and security is a flagship programme of the institute conceptualized in 2012 to draw national attention to the critical importance of culture, peace, and security to national development and to sensitize stakeholders of their role in fostering peace and security in Nigeria.         

Mallam Ado Yahuza highlighted some of the critical and pertinent issues the 2021 edition of the national conference have been packaged to examine. These include relationship between culture and development; diversity management and national security; social media and national security challenges; youth and women empowerment; technology and security management as well as the role of women in fostering a culture of peace and non-violence in Nigeria.      

 However, Yahuza stressed the relationship between culture and development as well as the linkage between security and national development as one that is closely related. He, therefore, urged stakeholders and the general public to ensure that issues of peace and security are not treated with levity because of their implications for national development. Assuring that the team of eminent scholars and experts selected for the conference would do justice to the theme.

The Chairman of the occasion, Honourable Commissioner, Tourism, Culture & Hospitality, Plateau State, Mrs. Tamwakat Weli also congratulated and commended NICO and UNESCO for partnering in such an important conference and for choosing Jos, the Home of Peace and Tourism as the venue of the conference. She said that the theme of the conference was very apt considering the myriad of challenges confronting the nation. As she affirmed that the conference was aimed at charting ways towards sustaining peace and security in Nigeria,

Mrs. Tamwakat Weli was of the opinion that the role and contributions of women  and youths in the culture of peace was not only important since they represent the majority of the global population but that women and youths  are the key drivers of the radical change of mindsets that we seek. She added that if women and youths would be included in the whole process of peace and conflict resolutions and most importantly as reconcilers in post conflict situations, the nation would achieve a sustainable and comprehensive peace.

The Honourable Commissioner therefore, employed women and youths to unite and make sure that humanity is liberated from violence and discrimination, because for her if this unity is accomplished would give economic muscle that would nurture a culture of peace and roll back the tides of conflict.

The Secretary General, National Commission, UNESCO, Mr. Olagunju Lateef Idowu, gave his good will message reiterating that NICO has always delivered on its mandate especially on the national conference on culture, peace and security which UNESCO has partnered with in the past.

 The conference had three technical sessions with 7 paper presenters and discussants drawn from UNIJOS, Plateau State;  ABU Zaria, Kaduna State; Federal University Kasheri, Gombe State; Benue State University Makurdi, Benue State; UNIABUJA, FCT; Ekiti State University; Federal University Lafia, Nasarawa State; National Institute for Peace  and Conflict Resolution Headquarters, Abuja; among other discussants.

Dignitaries present at the opening ceremony of the NICO National conference were Honourable Commissioner for Women Affairs Plateau state, Mrs. Rebecca Adar-Sambo; Deputy Chief of Staff, Deputy Governor’s Office Plateau State, Mr. Silas Vem; Director General, Nigerian Film Video and Censors Board (NFVCB), Mr. Adedayo Thomas; Managing Director, Nigerian Film Corporation(NFC) Jos, Dr. Chidia Maduekwe; Director General, National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOURS), Alhaji Nura Kangiwa; Director General, National Gallery of Arts (NGA), Mr. Ebenten Ivara; Artistic Director/CEO, National Troupe of Nigeria(NTN), Mr. Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed; Acting Director General, Nigeria Merit Awards(NMA), Mr. Ibrahim Namadi; Commissioner of Police, Training and Development Police Headquarters, Abuja, Abdul Yaris Lafia; State Coordinator, National Director for Employment (NDE), Ibrahim Hardo; President, National Council for Women Society Ebony state; Theresa Omoke; President, National Council for Women Society Lagos state, Mrs. Agnes Biola Fasesin;  Dean, Faculty of Arts, Kaduna State University, Prof. Audee T. Giwa; Dean, Faculty of Arts, Benue State University, Markudi, Prof. Ama Gowon Doki; among others.

 Njideka Dimgba

E.S Office

NICO, Abuja.