The process of building a peaceful society requires concerted effort by government at all levels to address the root causes of violence and ensure that people have freedom from fear of intimidation, humiliation, conflicts and war.
Peace is an essential ingredient of human life and a peaceful environment is not only critical to the society, but also a panacea for economic growth and development of a nation by extension, the communities, hence the need for individuals and organizations to peace building in their respective communities..
In achieving this, Actionaid Nigeria firmly believed that recognizing the role of young people in peace building processes is a big step towards ending violent extremism and achieving sustainable development.
The Organization in partnership with it’s local rights partner, Participation Initiative for Behavioural Change In Development, (PIBCID), through the System and Structure Strengthening Approach Against Radicalization to Violent Extremism (SARVE II) project, has successfully raised a new breed of peace ambassadors dedicated to promoting peaceful coexistence in the state.
ActionAid Nigeria (AAN) a non-governmental, non-partisan, non-religious, civil society organization and an affiliate member of the ActionAid International Federation with presence in 45 countries, have been in the forefront of this struggle.
The organisation has made effort in Nigeria by supporting people living in poverty and exclusion to achieve social justice, gender equality and poverty eradication towards achieving a just, equitable and sustainable world in which every person enjoys the right to a life of dignity, freedom from poverty, peaceful coexistence and all forms of oppression.
Among the several efforts already put in place by ActionAid Nigeria in Kogi and Nasarawa States was the initiation of Youth Peace Camp which was in pursuiance of the ‘System and Structure Strengthening Approach against Radicalization to Violent Extremism code named SERVE II Project. It was initiated after the successful execution of the SERVE 1 project in communities in the two states.
The project which aimed at producing peace ambassadors in communities across the two states was in strong partnership with Participation Initiative for Behavioural Change in Development (PIBCID), Global Peace Development (GPD) and Beacon Youth Initiative (BYI) with funding from Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF).
The 2020 Youth Peace Camping was the second edition after a successfully hosting of the first edition in 2019 in Kogi State where 500 peace ambassadors were produced.
ActionAid Nigeria however brought together young people from project communities across the three Senatorial district of Kogi State to support the participants in initiating social cohension, build their capacity and sense of purpose approach to peace building process as a key for preventing conflict and enabling stability and sustainable peace.
Interestingly, during the five days 2020 camping held recently at Salem University campus in Lokoja , the 500 participants were exposed to experiential learning process to enable them acquired competences in the fields of intercultural and religious learning, dialogue, Prevention of Violent Extremism (PVE) within a human rights framework.
In addition the youth were also taught various forms of capacity strengthening such as teaching , coaching , mentoring , psychosocial support , skill acquisition among others.
Speaking during the opening ceremony of the 2020 Youth Peace Camp, the Director Organizational Effectiveness, ActionAid Nigeria, who also held the position of Camp Director , Fumilayo Oyefusi, revealed that from the last year youth peace camp in Kogi State, the organization has recorded so much progress in the communities in terms of peace building and prevention of violent extremism.
She stressed, that most of the campers in last year exercise have become peace ambassadors in their various communities, saying that most of them who are trained on some skills are already using the trades to earn a living.
“We believed that if our youth are economically empowered, it would be difficult for them to engage in violent activities, it would also be difficult for anyone to use them or engage them as thugs in their various communities.
“We are happy that the skills the 2019 campers gained , they were able to put it in practice and some of them are back to the camp because we have ten percent of last year campers that were also invited for the 2020 youth peace camp because of their performance in the first edition of the programme.
“A programme like this is being initiated to build the capacity of youth to enable them fend for themselves and prevent violent extremism.
She commended the Kogi State Governor Alhaji Yahaya Bello for his support since the organisation started the SERVE I project and now SERVE II in the state.
“We thank him for all the support we have been enjoying in the state and we are very willing to do more in the interest of humanity” she said.
The project officer for System Structure Strengthening Approach against Radicalization to violent Extremism (SARVE11) project, Mr Anicentus Atakpu in his remark, said the objectives of the youth camp was to stimulate participants understanding of their personal and collective identities and their roles in preventing conflicts at all levels.
Reeling out the objectives of the camping, Atakpu said the camping was organised to enable participants to share personal experiences of conflict and violence and fashioning out strategies in a positive and safe atmosphere of living and learning together.
“To motivate and support participants in their role as multipliers and peer leaders in peace- building activities with young people.
“To strengthen the role of ActionAid Nigeria, through Its SARVE11 project, in Its efforts towards strengthening youth work in preventing radicalization to violent extremism, social cohesion and intercultural and religious dialogue in the implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2250 on youth, peace and security.
Speaking further the project officer , told the participants that the different between himself and the participants was the opportunity that came his way , noting that there are people in the camp that if given such opportunity, will do better than him.
He however emphasised that all they needed in life to excel is opportunity, maintaining that they can not also excel if they are not prepared.
Atakpu who stated that the camping is a life changing opportunity , added that success is the opportunity that meet preparedness and urged them to be prepared and be a youth that aside certificate qualification, they should also endeavour to acquire skills that will engage them and remove them from the poverty that some people capitalized on to involve them in nasty behaviours that are not lawful .
The Executive Director, Participation Initiative for Behavioural Change (PIBCID), Halima Oiza Sadiq in her address declared that 500 youth from six local government areas , cutting across the three Senatorial districts of Kogi State took part in the 2020 youth camp that lasted for one week.
“The 2020 Youth Peace Camp hosted 500 youth from six local government and twelve communities across the three senatorial district of Kogi State .
“The sole aim of the camp is to orient the youth on how best they can face the public and it is also an opportunity for them to build their resilience toward violent extremism.
“The camp also afforded them the opportunity to mingled together , interacted and get a take home that will improve their lives and well being after they leave the camp.
“The programme which is ‘System Structure Strengthening Approach against Radicalization to Violent Extremism is to prevent violent extremism and one of the possible way is to inculcate attitude of peace in the mind of our youth.
“And to achieve these, we believe that , it is imperative and expedient to create that enabling environment for them to mingle together and to cohabit and at the end of the five days camp we are able to raise 500 youth ambassadors from the camp who will use their experience and the knowledge gained from the camp to prevent violent extremism in their various communities.
Adejo Musa Aturuku a participant from Kogi East while commenting on the camping thank the organisers for creating an enduring opportunity for all the participants to learn a trade of their choice, assuring that he would put to use all the knowledge gained from the camp.
Also a female participant from central senatorial district Aisha Yusuf advised Kogi state government to key into some of the activities of ActionAid Nigeria and PIBCID to better the lives of the less privileged in the state.
“Honestly, ActionAid Nigeria in partnership with PIBCID have really touched many lives in many communities across Kogi state. They created several sources of empowernment for us and the effort has gone a long way in alleviating the sufferings of many of us in rural areas.
“We are appealing to the state government to give maximum support to the organizations to enable them do more for us” she stated.
While commending the organisers of the 2020 Youth Peace Camp for putting the youth on a threshold of maintaining peace in the communities, Aisha Yusuf promised to be a peace ambassador in Osara , her community.
The Youth Peace Camp is a place where the organizations build the capacity of young persons to enable them to recognize themselves towards the prevention of violent extremism .
The campaign was initiated in pursuance of SERVE Project which was started in Kogi State and now being extended to Nasarawa State.Share this on WhatsApp