By: Mayen Etim
KADUNA, North-West, Nigeria – A Non-Governmental Organization, GengerationsforPeace, (GFP), has concluded plans to use arts and advocacy to promote peace among different ethnic and religious groups in Kaduna State.
Programme Manager and Lead Facilitator of GFP, Safiya Ibn Garba, disclosed while fielding questions from newsmen at the end of a five-day training for 21 Volunteers on Arts and Advocacy for Peace programme at the weekend in Kaduna.
According to her, the 21 volunteers had previously took part in the first phase of the programme tagged: “United In Diversity” aimed at bringing together youth and adults of different ethnic divides in the state to preach peace using arts and advocacy, to bring about social cohesion among them.
Garba explained that the group has since 2008 been working in the state, and had different kinds of peace building programmes that has engaged young girls, women, male youth and adults in dialogue, adding that this is the second phase where it would use Arts and Advocacy for the next one year.
The GFP Lead Facilitator further disclosed that the programme is supported by the US Embassy in Abuja, stressing that one of the ways the group intends to achieve its goal is by building capacity of volunteers to gain necessary skills and knowledge that would enable them take the message of peace to their communities using different vehicles.
“With the skills acquired our volunteers will further engage 60 members of the community from different ethnic groups in what we call: ongoing activities of different kinds using arts and advocacy, engaging members of the community.
“This is to ensure GFP promote the message of peace, preach against violent extremism to ensure better cohesion, increased tolerance and acceptance across ethnic climes in the state.
“We would do this by staying in place with our very unique monitoring and evaluation framework where we actually check levels in attitudes and behavior before and after the programme. So we would have both the quantitative and qualitative data to show changes that the programme has brought about.
“Our message to the youth is to be wise. And to the adults as well is to work together even where there are differences in opinion. We could have those differences without resulting to violence.
“I want to say that despite the fact that we are all from different ethnicity and religion, we are still Nigerians. We should think about our progress and move ahead. We must ensure that after the 2019 general elections, we focused on developing and creating stronger ties among us,” she urged.
Also, a Senior Programmes Officer of GFP from Zimbabwe, Mercia Takavarasha, said she was in Nigeria to deliver on arts and advocacy for peace training to the country’s delegates.
She said that 21 Nigerians were selected so that they could become part of the implementation team for the programme.
Speaking on the difference between the two countries, Takavarasga said she noticed that in Nigeria especially in Kaduna State, there are over sixty ethnic groups, while Zimbabwean barely got ten ethnic groups.
“With this huge diversity, there could only be strength if the people positively respect one another, and be tolerant of their diversity, particularly with the vehicle GFP intends to use where drama, drawings among others would be used to build peace in the state.
“There would be room for creativity for the people to easily express themselves, so that eventually people can respect one another knowing exactly what the other party has expressed themselves on,” she said.
One of the volunteers, Abubakar Nasidi, said his experience with GFP is profound. He said prior to coming in contact with the group he had a vague idea of peace building; saying “Joining GFP has given me direction and contentment as this has changed my life.”
Sharing her experience, Funke Bamikole, said it has been amazing because after their training in Dialogue for Peace, they executed some programmes that has impacted many lives in their communities.
She noted that GFP has indeed bridged the wide gaps that existed among different ethnic and religious groups in the state.
In the same vein, Mendei Jeremiah, said his experience has also been a good one with GFP. He said that most of the group’s programmes implemented has seen much success stories.
“We saw where people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds who hitherto do not relate with one another now become friends and are now living in peace with one another. It’s so amazing,” he said.