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In its efforts to build peace in Kaduna State, Noth-West, Nigeria, the Interfaith Mediation Centre, (IMC), has organized a one-day Community Media Dialogue on the need for peaceful coexistence among all and sundry. MAYEN ETIM, who was at the meeting writes.
The meeting which took off from Chikun Local Government Area of the state, also sensitized residents of Gonin-Gora, Romi, Television, Sabo,Trikania, Karatudu, Narayi and Sabon-Gari Nassarawa communities on the need for peaceful coexistence.
Earlier, the sensitization workshop organized by IMC, for media, on the campaign for peace building among communities in Chikun Local Government Area, and three others including stakeholders was with a view to finding lasting solution to constant ethno-religious crises in the state.
The meeting with a theme: “Community Media Dialogue on Cultural and Religious Plurialism” was attended by traditional rulers, religious leaders, youth leaders and female representatives from across the state., who also in turn contributed to the debate.
The meeting which also deliberated on issues of identity and citizenship, noted that unless justice and fairness are seen to be done to all by government, it would be difficult for the citizenry to cohabit in peace with one another in a multicultural and religious pluralist society.
The Chikun LGA Team which was led by Mr. Japheth Shekodiza, and supported by Ms Grace Ezekiel, Mr Nimkur Dashe and Mr. John Akor of IMC, visited the following communities; Gonin-Gora, Romi,Television, Sabo,Trikania, Karatudu, Narayi and Sabon-Gari Nassarawa, where issues on political, religious, cultural, social and economic rights were the focus of the dialogue. The meeting was also held in Igabi, Kaduna South and Kaduna North Local Government Areas.
The dialogue also focused on issues of youth unemployment, infrastructural decay, especially road, water, drug abuse, insecurity, rapes among other vexed issues.
Other areas highlighted includes bad leadership, alleged lopsided appointments, hate speech and incisive statement which are capable of creating tension in the polity.
A Youth Leader from Angwar Yelwa, Mr. Auta Zarmia, identified unemployment, drug and substance abuse as a menace to the community.
Another member from the area, Miss Dorcas Afan, said other problems bedeviling the area includes the issue of teenage pregnancies among many others. She said almost every household in the area has experienced or is experiencing this phenomenon due to lack of social amenities, and empowerment for women and youth.
Also speaking, Mr. Danjuma Ayuba, a Youth Leader in Gonin-Gora, said his community is shortchange by lopsidedness in allocation and execution of projects by the government, adding that the ares also faces the issue of drug and substance abuse.
Mr. Ibrahim Bennet, Secretary to Youth Leader, Sabon Tasha, decried high unemployment rate among the youth in his community, which has resulted to high rate of drug and substance abuse among them; noting there was high rate of drop out of schools, abject poverty and nti social vices.
Mr. Felix Eshack, Youth Leader of Sabon-Gari Nasarawa, explained that the community witnessed insecurity, drug hawkers who pollute the minors in the areas, exclusion from political appointments and infrastructure by government. “The Community has no market, hence no viable economic structure.”
He said that Sabon-Gari community has two nonfunctional Primary Healthcare facilities, hence leaving the health of members of this large community at the mercy of private clinics.
In the same vein, Ms Juliana Tanko, Woman/Youth Mobilizer and spokesperson from Angwar Romi, said there is the issue of erosion in her community. Drug and substance abuse, as well as sexual abuse among the youth, Poor educational facilities, Lack of portable water, Insecurity is the major problem in the area and poor leadership.
After over three hours deliberations, participants resolved on the way forward:
Mr. Eshack, youth leader from Sabon-Gari Nasarawa, said when it comes to appointments particularly in the political arena of things there used to be rancor between the Christians and Muslims in the area who to put forward to represent the community, but today it is the prerogative of the youth to chosen person(s) they believed will serve the interest of people in the area without imposition of candidate by any political party, as a result this has greatly help the community in no small measures calm frayed nerves and avoid religious crisis.
Similarly, the youth leader from Gonin-Gora Ayuba, agreed there was need for members from this flash point communities to always come to the round table to deliberate and resolve their difference amicably, and apportion blame for defaulters and where necessary punish offenders irrespective of religion and ethnicity.
While Ms Tanko, from Angwar Romi, also agreed there was need for citizens to do away with hate speech and incitement. She said serious action should be taken against such person irrespective of religion, ethnicity and social standing in the society. Even as the idea of intermarriages among citizens was muted by Mr. Mahdi Obadiah from Sabon Tasha, as accrding to him could help reduce incessant ethno-religious crises bedeviling the state.
Illya Yahaya from Gbagyi Villa was concerned on the process involved to recall an elected person, found not to have performed in office. “In Romi we have no roads at all. Elected politicians neglected us. The Federal Housing has secondary school problem. Roads to the only school has been completely washed away by rain.
“To see elective politician after election is a hell and we need to let them know of this issue before voting them into office. Why does it have to be until they finished their tenure in office before they could availed themselves to their electorate?”
Observations and solutions proffered by a committee, set up by the group leader advised government to create an Employment Labour office in all the major communities where unemployed youth and job seekers, could go and register for employment, understanding the constitution of Nigeria.
The committee also observed that electorate have the rights to recall politicians voted into office who failed to leave up to his or her promises, and to henceforth pledged to commit politicians to writing agreements on promises made to the community before elected.
The committee urged members and community leaders to desist from asking for personal favour from politicians, saying the habit is detrimental to the general development interest of the community.
According to the participants, selfish interest is the bane of failed promises by elected officials which is largely tied to personal demands by community leaders against the overall purpose of providing health, schools, roads in community and providing employment for teaming population of youth in the areas.