WPD: IMC, KSPC, Mercy Corps dialogue with religious leaders, ahead celebrations 

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By: Mayen Etim
KADUNA, North-West, Nigeria -Government agencies and non- governmental organizations involved in peace promotion and harmony in Kaduna state have commenced celebration of the UN World Peace Day, (WPD), ahead of the September 21st 2023 event.
Representatives of the various bodies which cut across different faith based organizations, religious leaders and media practitioners commenced the celebration with an interactive session on ways to sustained the relative peace in Kaduna, and the Nation at large at a meeting held on Friday, September 15, in Kaduna.
In his remarks, Director of Training of Interfaith Mediation Center, (IMC), Reverend Bitrus Dangiwa, said every September 21, is marked as WPD by the United Nations, explaining that the day was meant to prepare religious leaders and all  stakeholders concerned on what they should be doing.
“What we should be doing especially from now till the actual day of 21st by way of encouraging religious leaders to promote peace in their sermons on Friday during the hutubas and Sunday services, in Kaduna state and nation at large.
“Kaduna and Nigeria need this kind of programme. The UN is just reminding us of what we have already known in preaching peace. The day was set aside for us to celebrate it, but we are tasking everyone on what he/she can do to add value to the peace in the state and the Nation at large because without peace there cannot be any meaningful development.
“We cannot sleep well due to insecurity because most of us are compromising our religious tenets by allowing some social vices to happen. We are not following the teaching of truths because most people that are carrying out all these social vices are members of our Churches and Mosques.
“So if they are really hearing what we are teaching them in our various places of worship, devoid of sentiment, there will be a change”, he said.
In a separate remarks, Kaduna State Peace Commission,(KSPC) representative, Didam Swam, said the meeting is in preparation to kick start the celebrations of the WPD in September 21.
Swam who is KSPC’s Conflict Early Warning, Early Response System, Administration and Programme Officer, further explained activities line up for the event to includes; education of  Internally Displaced Persons, (IDPs) Maraban Rido concert, novelty football match, symposium, cultural dances display.
He added that the week long activities would be rounded up with a media parley in Kaduna State University, (KASU), where everyone would be given opportunity to tell their success story and ways to move the state forward.
Similarly, representative of the Kaduna State Network of Peace and Security, Eric John, tasked
religious leaders at the gathering to take the messages down to their faithful in their various places of worship.
He said: “We appeal to you, let these messages not die at the meeting, rather let’s be promoters of ourselves. We always appreciate when the Christians understand how the Muslims operate, and likewise the Muslims understand how Christians operate. So, we don’t step into other people’s territory, but when you see it, we understand this is the way they operate.”
Also, Chairman of Community Peace Observers (CPO) in Kaduna North, Comrade Muhammed Zakariyya, noted the emerging new challenges affecting communities in the state, but believed these could be tackled.
Earlier, Coordinator of Early Warning Early Response, (EWER), System in IMC, Samson Auta, had informed participants that the gathering aimed to brainstorm on current challenges among religious leaders that triggers tension and conflicts in the state.
He explained that the meeting will also discusse the roles religious leaders play to counter such challenges in order to promote peace in places of worship and in their sermons.
Stakeholders in attendance at the interactive session includes; Mercy Corps, KSPC, Kaduna Network for Peace, Network of Peace Journalists, Doma Peace Development, IMC- host, religious leaders, Christians and Muslims, among others.

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