Embracing Dialogue to Reconcile Differences in Nigeria

Robin McDonough
August 24, 2023

Recognizing the significance of dialogue in building and sustaining a peaceful coexistence among people from diverse backgrounds, over 120 men, women, and youth from five volatile communities within the Lapai LGA of Niger State gathered on August 23, 2023, to participate in a Community Dialogue Forum (CDF) hosted by Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Nigeria.

A group of people embracing dialogue in a classroom to reconcile differences in Nigeria.

Audience looks on during the dialogue meeting.

Representatives from Dangana, Aliso, Sonfada, Kawu, and Baban-gwari attended the gathering to discuss and collectively reconcile longstanding land disputes that continue to threaten peace and divide the communities.

A group of people embracing in front of a blackboard.

A woman leader and member LPRC, Hajiya Rahmatu Idris speaking at the gathering.

The community representatives convened at the LEA Primary School Dangana for the CDF, which was facilitated by the Lapai Peace and Reconciliation Committee (LPRC) as a follow-up to the community-engaging Football for Peace event held in July 2023. Speaking on behalf of GPF Nigeria Country Director Joseph Hayab, the LPRC co-chairman opened the forum by thanking the participants for attending. He also reminded them of the dignity of every human being fostered in GPF’s vision of One Family Under God and emphasized that land should never be a dividing factor or hinder the five communities from achieving peace.

A group of people embracing dialogue at a table.

Representative of the Christian leaders Musa Adams, adding his voice to the conversation.

Hajiya Rahmatu Idris, a woman leader and member of the LPRC, asked the attendees to refrain from violence and embrace dialogue to resolve their conflicts. Other speakers who supported this sentiment included the five community village heads as well as the Islamic and Christian clerics who called on the attendees to be Peace Ambassadors for their respective communities. In addition to recognizing the significant role dialogue plays in advancing reconciliation and peace, education was also emphasized as a tool to counter the negative impacts of ignorance.

Testimonies from various attendees were supportive of the forum. Alhaji Abdullahi Labaran, the district head of Aliso, said that it is a step in the right direction. Elder Mallam Tanko Zangazanga from Sonfada, who also attended the Football for Peace event in July, stated, “I thought it was just a one-off thing when they came in July, but this second coming shows that the organization really means business. I charge all our people to do all they can not to frustrate their efforts.”

To further the momentum created by the CDF to promote meaningful dialogue, the attendees agreed to create a Community Reconciliation and Development Committee consisting of representatives from each of the five communities. The selected representatives will meet regularly to collaboratively resolve issues by using dialogue to mitigate violence and promote peaceful coexistence among its diverse members. In addition, Football for Peace events will continue quarterly to unite the five communities using the inherent nature of sports to create a shared experience.

A group of people embracing dialogue in Nigeria.

The District Head of Sonfada, Mallam Idrisu Isah.

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