From Esther Akaa, Lafia
500 youths in Nasarawa State have been certified as Peace Ambassadors by ActionAid Nigeria (AAN), in partnership with Global Peace Development (GPD) and Beacon Youth Initiative (BYI) at the just concluded 2020 Youth Peace Camp in the state.
The youth peace camp initiated by AAN with funding from the Global Community Engagement and Resilence Fund (GCERF) is in pursuance of the System and Structure Strengthening Approach Against Radicalisation to Violent Extremism (SARVE II) Project, implemented in 12 communities in 6 local government areas of the state aimed at building the capacities of youths and raising peace ambassadors in the society.
At the closing ceremony of the peace camp held at St John Bosco Secondary School, Doma, recently, the Country Director, AAN, Mrs Ene Obi charged the peace ambassadors to go out and respond to issues of peace in their communities.
Mrs Obi said that youths were the most vulnerable group in times of violence as they were mostly used by selfish politicians to perpetrate evil, stressing the need to empower them for peace and development in the country.
She assured that her organisation will continue to build the capacity of youths, through skills acquisition and vocational training programmes, in order to make them become useful to the society.
“The peace camp in Doma Local Goverment is part of our activities to address the issue of violent extremism. We are organising the youth for them to become Peace Ambassadors in their various communities. We are helping the youths to organise themselves to be able to respond to issues of peace in their communities and already we have alot of peace ambassadors in the state and it makes me comfortable.
“We are also collaborating with Nasarawa State government and right now, there is a youth bill which has gone through the first reading at the state House of Assembly and what we are saying is that, attention should be given to youths because when there is conflict, it is always youths that get used but we are saying that the youths should turn their energy into positive things. In Nigeria we have more than 62% population as youths and what that means is that we have an engine room for development,” Mrs Obi said.
She appreciated the Governor of the State, Engr Abdullahi Sule, for his support towards the implementation of programmes initiated in the state by her organisation and called for more collaboration.
In his remark, Governor Sule, represented by the Deputy Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Nehemiah Dandaura appreciated AAN and her partners for organising the peace camp, which he said would go a long way in strengthening peace and security in the state.
“The exercise is an elaborate effort towards peace building in the state and the youths have been mobilised across communities and this has brought hope to our state.
“I am optimistic that the youths will go home changed and transformed to impact positively on their communities,” Governor Sule said.
Also speaking, the Executive Director, Global Peace Development, Mr Ebruke Esike said the programme was to stimulate youth capacity to contribute to peace building process in their communities, in line the SARVE II project which is funded by the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF).
Mr Esike further revealed that the essence was also to build community resilience, according to the United Nations Security Council resolution 225O which is built on protection, participation, partnership, prevention, disengagement and integration which supports the youths to become agents of development.
He added that the 2020 youth Peace Camp was able to address issues surrounding inequality, violent extremism and has successfully built youths capacity towards peace building in their communities which can be achieved through education, arts, play and songs.
Participants who spoke with The Voice Include; Emmanuel Musa, Dorcas Danjuma and Musa Danka, saying they were taught how to avoid violent extremism and embrace peace.
They added that the camp also availed them opportunities to learn new skills such as photography, bead making, soap making among others, assuring that they will apply what they have learnt accordingly.