September 29, 2014, 5:47 PM
The Interfaith Mediation Centre in Kaduna, Nigeria, organized activities to commemorate International Day of Peace, along with organizations, local government and the public in general. The celebration also included such civil society organizations as: Women Interfaith Council (WIC), Coalition for peace in northern Nigeria (C4P), Alfacare and Uniform Religious Groups. Women, youth, religious leaders, security forces and the media participated in one way or the other, and that contributed to the success of this unique celebration.
A main topic of discussion was in regards to what the youth should do to promote peace in partnership with the government, religious and other stakeholders in order to promote peace in their communities and environment.
During the program panelists reiterated that, despite the challenges and problems the youth are facing, they should be responsible enough to design their future based on a shared vision. It was also emphasized that we can motivate ourselves through self-employment, because the government cannot provide jobs for everybody. They should therefore be change agents in our community, especially since youth have the physical strength, mental alertness, speed, ideas and information necessary to create positive change. Youth must be catalysts for change and not catalysts for destruction, the panelists concluded.
Prior to the commencement of the event, an interfaith prayer was observed, followed by a welcome address by Interfaith Mediation Centre. Youth advisor Christian Matters welcomed all the groups present to this remarkable celebration in acknowledging the very important stride all around the world by people who have dedicated their time to promote peace and peaceful coexistence. He prayed and said that he hope that the rally will motivate others to also contribute the same in making the world a better place.
After the speech, the band led the procession for a peace walk that began at the Leventis Roundabout (also known as the Peace Roundabout) along Ahmadu Bello Way. The peace rally was a colorful one as all that participated were seen sharing and walking with enthusiastism along Ahmadu Bello Way and the peace rally terminated at the press Centre with a joint presentation by both Interfaith Mediation Centre (IMC) and Women Interfaith Council (WIC).
The presentation focused on the importance of the "Right of people to Peace," requesting that people everywhere in the country be at peace with one another, while also creating a safe space to abolish all sorts of negative and hate speeches. The presentation also called upon Nigerians to shun ethnic, regional and religious differences, which has played a negative role in our society today.
IMC and WIC called on the youth to be united and hopeful because the future is in their hands. A call was also made to the media houses to make proper use of their medium to promote unity among the people, as similar actions of the media in Rwanda contributed to the genocide in that country in 1994. The statement concluded by emphasizing and calling that Peace is Divine, Preach It.
A press release was later presented to the women of Interfaith Council that called upon all to respect the right of peoples to peace and the importance of existence and survival of the human race.
A joint closing remark was done by IMC and WIC appreciating the turnout of the 2014 IDP and the need to do more in our places of worship, homes, working environment to promote peace and to reflect on peace. Emphasis was also placed upon the youth to be law abiding and discern from negative actions that can lead to violence. It also reinstated the support of the government towards propagating the message of peace to all it citizens with continues awareness for peace. The peace rally came to an end with an interfaith prayer and later meals were served for all that were in attendance.
A football match also took place on the 21st of September to mark the International Day of Peace, organized in the small community of Rigasa. The match is representative of the traditional, religious, youth, political, civil society and community based associations the representatives of the youth department from IMC, member board of director IMC, officiating referees and officials, women and children that came to view the match and to support their clubs.
Before the commencement of the match at the Tirkaniya mini stadium, the Chikun local government of Kaduna State held an interfaith prayer. During the halftime break, a peace message was delivered by Elder Elisha Buba Yero and summarized the statement of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:
"We ask combatants to put down their arms so all can breathe the air of peace.
Armed conflict causes untold grief to families, communities and entire countries. Too many are suffering today at the brutal hands of warmongers and terrorists. Let us stand with them in solidarity. Peace and security are essential foundations for social progress and sustainable development. That is why, three decades ago, the United Nations affirmed the right of peoples to peace. Throughout the coming year, we will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the United Nations.
“Our organisation is founded on the pledge to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. We have made much progress. But much remains to be done. We must douse the fires of extremism and tackle the root causes of conflict. Peace is a long road that we must travel together, step-by-step, beginning today.
“Let us all observe a minute of silence, at noon. Let us all reflect on peace – and what it means for our human family. Let us hold it in our hearts and minds and tenderly nurture it so it may grow and blossom."
The crowd applauded with the slogan, “Let peace prevail in Tirkaniya, Let peace prevail in Kaduna and let peace prevail in Nigeria.”
The rally has enabled other organizations to work together in fostering peaceful coexistence by distribution of Information, Educational and Communication Materials (IEC) on the Rights of people to Peace during the peace rally, and also at the football match venue.
The materials were shared to dignitaries and supporters while we are sure to have communicated to about 500 people who were reached directly and we anticipate many more will have listened to the media program have gained awareness on the International Day of Peace celebration.