by Juliana K. Tauna, Kaduna
For Kaduna state to find a lasting peace solution to the problems that bedevil it, residents and citizens need to have an understanding of their context politically, socially and economically, in order to work in harmony, the Commissioner, Kaduna State Peace Commission, Hajia Khadijat Hawaja, has said.
According to her, with the people kind of diversity in the state, conflict is normal, but it only becomes abnormal and unacceptable when it degenerates to violence, where innocent lives and property are claimed; as such should be avoided.
She said this on Thursday during an Intercultural and Interreligious Conference on promoting Cultural and Religious Tolerance, which held in Kaduna, with the theme ‘The Practical Application of the Kaduna state Peace Commission Law’ organized by the Zaman Tare project Nigeria, state, where it hosted the Kaduna state Peace Commission, Civil Society Organisations and other stakeholders.
According to Hajia Hawaja, the essence is to conceptualize the law, which established the Commission, and how far it has practicalized the provision of the law; basically, on activities carried by the Commission since inception, which is about 3 years ago now.
While conceptualizing conflicts in Kaduna, she said, “The different divergent groups, ethnic communities that are residents in Kaduna with the religious differences are biased.
“Also, the dynamics that we are beginning to see now, which is criminality, with so much happening in different parts of the state, coupled with the inter-communal conflicts that we are having, where criminals have now found Kaduna to be a place where they can hide and carry out their evil acts, there is need for communities to be vigilant,” she advised.
She further called on the people of the state – “since it is the will of God that He created us differently and bringing about 60 ethnic communities together in the state” – to all learn to respect the beliefs, traditions and cultures of one another “so that they can live harmoniously as well as collaborate with one another, in order to move Kaduna state forward.”
On his part, Senior Program Manager of Interfaith Mediation Centre, Kaduna, Mr Charles Ndukwe, while commending the effort of the government for establishing the Kaduna State Peace Commission, stressed the need for strategy that will connect the commission with the ordinary person on the street to be mapped out to enable people free access.
“There should be that unhindered access to the Peace Commission until the common man feels the impact of what the Commission has been established for,” he added.
Mr Ndukwe urged the Commission to also look out for what he called the “sustaining factors” in conflict situations, which are not the same with ones the people know.
“As the body is charged with the responsibility of bringing peace in Kaduna, it has become necessary on you to go to those contexts and find out what are the sustaining factors. Until that is done, you will be treating the symptoms other than the disease itself,” he maintained
Similarly, in his submission, the Coordinator of JDPC/DPI, Catholic Archdiocese of Kaduna, Rev. Fr. Joshua Yima Achir, while calling on people to live in peace, said “For sustainable peace to reign there must be justice, and when there’s justice, development will come naturally.
“When we become complacent with the Truth, a lot of ill-things will happen. So, am of the opinion that, no matter what happens, people should speak the Truth; the Truth is only one. If you speak a lie, you need more lies, in order to support the lie, but if you speak the Truth, you do not need to look for more truths, in order to support that one truth,” he noted.
On his part, the Project Coordinator for ZAMAN TARE Project in Nigeria, Barrister Cletus Aloke, said as part of their mandate they are to look for how they can strengthen policy documents that have to do with peace and, that, one of such policy documents is the Kaduna state Peace Commission Law, which was created in 2017.
According to him, the provision of the law that mandated the state government to create the Peace Commission allows it operational within 5 years, after which the state House of Assembly can make further amendment(s) for it to continue to be in operation, which he said the conference is an opportunity for the Zaman Tare to take stock of the Peace Commission law.
“Its practical application because most times, making a law is one thing, whether the law is acceptable to the people is another thing; that is why we gathered stakeholders today first from the Peace Commission, then the CSOs and the communities to x-ray the law, whether actually what the law stated has been in operation in our respective communities,” he stated.