Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel has advocated collaborative efforts beyond the boundaries of ethnicity, race, socio-cultural construct, religious affiliation, and doctrinal differences by faith leaders with moral authority as the much-needed panacea to advance and achieve sustainable peace, social cohesion and hope in Nigeria.
The Governor who stated this at the Inclusive Security Dialogue Retreat at the Airlie Conference Center, Warrenton, Virginia, United States of America by the Global Peace Foundation in collaboration with Vision Africa said, this is pertinent because the current reality in Nigeria is heartrending, and one that urgently seeks leadership with the moral authority to navigate the country out of the muddy waters of self-destruction and disintegration.
Governor Emmanuel was one of the few key influencers selected for the strategy meeting who spoke on “INCLUSIVE SECURITY DIALOGUE – UNBUNDLING THE BARRIERS”, noted that “to stem the tide of extremists in Nigeria, whether religious fundamentalists, dissident Islamists, or militia groups, will ultimately mean addressing the conditions that foster radicalism – poverty, unemployment, social dislocation, cultural polarization, and a large demographic of disaffected young people.”
He said since the government has been variously accused of politics of parochial interest and tyrannical agenda, it becomes difficult for it to adequately act as an arbiter for conflict resolution and genuine peace.
He expressed worry that “Nigeria is facing an existential challenge nurtured by the narrow identities of politics, ethnicity, wrong interpretation of religion, and corruption, exacerbated by economic deprivations, violent extremism, and the rise of ethnic militia groups.
“In the last few months, the country has witnessed a surge in protests such as the ENDSARS with accompanying destruction of lives and
property. Kidnapping and abductions have dramatically increased, with more than seven hundred students taken since the beginning of this year. We have witnessed the death of police and
military officers in different parts of the country at the hands of a new group called the “Unknown Gunmen,” who have also burnt various police facilities. The rampaging of herdsmen and bandits is practically uncontrollable as they kill, maim and chase people out of their
communities”, all of which he noted has led the multiple regions of the country to resort to establishing their own security units, arguing that the central government is either unwilling or unable to protect its citizens.
The Akwa Ibom State Governor maintained that the retreat was going to afford stakeholders the opportunity to meet and transparently address “critical issues and seek lasting solutions to the grave challenges facing Nigeria, beginning from an affirmation of transcendent truths that define our common humanity.”
He said the discussions would outline and examine the root causes of agitations and violence in the country, provide a safe environment for stakeholders and key actors to open dialogue and chart a path forward and also bridge gaps across ethnic, religious, cultural, and ideological divides to better understand the conflict dynamics and provide a platform for reconciliation.
The outcome of this, according to him, would be an increased understanding of the root causes of conflict and violence affecting the country, de-escalation of conflict and violence across the nation, an increase in the positive relationship between the Nigerian government and various agitating groups across the country, expressing optimism that the retreat could foster effective crafting and implementation of policies for the human flourishing of peoples across the identity fault lines of the country, as well as reposition the importance of universal principles and shared values as the glue for social cohesion and sustainable peace.
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