An NGO Justice Peace and Reconciliation Movement (JPRM) has held its interfaith national conference for the year 2022 in a bid to spotlight the role of interreligious and traditional institutions in promoting peace before during and after elections in Nigeria.
The conference themed “COME LET US REASON TOGETHER IN NIGERIA 3: THE ROLE OF INTERFAITH AND TRADITIONAL INSTITUTIONS IN PROMOTING THE CULTURE OF PEACEFUL ELECTIONS IN NIGERIA” took place on the 7th of December 2022 at the JPRM Peace, Orientation and Conference Centre behind Citizenship and Leadership Training Centre, Gwash-Lamingo, Jos.
JPRM President Hon. Rev. Habila M. Istifanus in his welcome address stated that the essence of the gathering is to promote tolerance and peaceful coexistence before during and after the elections.
“We are gathered at this particular time to see how we can collectively contribute to a peaceful election as the General elections are only a few months from now.”
“This program is going to see how traditional rulers and religious leaders can join hands to bring about peace.”
“Today’s program stands out because its taking place at our newly established center Peace orientation and conference center.”
Adgwon Emmanuel Aji of the Ezere Kingdom in his goodwill message commended the organization for the timely initiative and appreciated them for choosing the Ezere kingdom as the location of the organization’s building as it has improved the exposure of the community as he calls on all citizens to leave in harmony.
“The theme of this gathering being the role of interfaith and traditional institutions in promoting the culture of peaceful election in Nigeria is timely and can’t be overemphasized especially as we approach the 2023 general elections.”
“I call on all citizens to prioritize peace during this time and shun the act of violence. I have no dought that after this program more peace will be achieved.”
Speaking to newsmen the JPRM Executive Director, Eld. Mrs. Justina Ngwobia admonished all Nigerians to prioritize peace.
“We must be extremely careful and protect our nation as we can’t afford to get it wrong anymore. We need to build a new Nigeria, which is why we have organized this program so that we can reason together to proffer solutions to those things that are coursing division.”
“Nigeria is a great nation and before you are a Hausa, Igbo, or Yoruba man you are first a Nigerian. Lets take Nigeria and humanity first so that this nation will survive in 2023.”
The keynote speaker DG Plateau Peace Building Agency Mr. Joseph Lengmen represented by Alkana Eza the agency’s team lead Peace Education highlighted the role of the inter-faith and traditional councils in peace reconciliation.
“Nigeria still has a long way to achieving a universal standard of free, fair, and peaceful democracy. One of the critical factors of electoral violence is religion and ethnicity as people focus on the region and religion a candidate belongs to rather than what they have to offer and issues and problems they can provide solutions to”
“Which is why it is important for ethnic and religious stakeholders to avoid hate speech and instigation but rather preach the principle of good conduct and freedom as the election approaches.”
Lead advocate, Plateau Women in Peace and Securit Hajihah Fati Sole called on women to double their effort in dousing tension within and outside their homes.
“Women have a key role in ensuring peace especially as the election is around the corner. I appeal to all women to increase their effort in dousing violence and tension in thire homes and the society, and promote objectivity.”
Delivering a paper at the event Dr. Iman Mohammad Ashafa advised religious and traditional leaders to desist from involving ethnic and religious sentiments in politics.
“Electoral violence is prevalent as a result of the monetization of political process and politicization of religion. Religious leaders and traditional rulers should stop appointing and declaring political leaders but instead simply bless such candidates.
“Traditional and Religious heads should use their position to encourage accountability, chartered of demand, scorecard, right of return, and collaborate with INEC during elections.”
A lecturer at the University of Jos Dr. Elias N. Lamle speaking on active and responsive citizenship; a sure way to promote peace in Nigeria stated that a nation is built on the concept of citizenship.
“Citizenship is the backbone of any country but because we are getting it wrong we are backward in the area of development.”
“People must understand their role as citizens, know how to rule and how to be ruled… Citizenship is important, so let’s not just be consigned about political sentiments but address issues as it happens.”
Highlight, of the event, was the presentation of awards to deserving individuals in recognition of their contribution to youth and women empowerment and peacebuilding across Plateau.
The event also witnessed an amazing performance by the Stone Ezel Arts Group.