Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Nigeria hosted faith leaders, traditional rulers, and prominent youth and women leaders at a forum on May 10, 2023, at the Asaa Pyramid Hotel Kaduna. Titled “The Role of Faith Leaders in Dousing Post-Election Tension,” the program hopes to aid leaders in encouraging a peaceful transition to a new administration that begins May 29.
The country, like many around the world, faces tension during each election season. However, GPF Nigeria’s ongoing work to prevent election violence has significantly lowered violence, including retaliation violence, and encouraged peaceful dialogue among diverse communities. Representatives from all sectors of Nigerian society joined together for the post-election forum. Members of the Traditional Council, People living with Disabilities, and members of the Kaduna State Peace and Mediation Committee were among those in attendance.
Rev. John Joseph Hayab, the Country Director of GPF Nigeria, gave welcoming remarks and recognized the significance of the audience’s diversity saying, “There are lots of misgivings, misconceptions and misrepresentations of issues, particularly in social media which are capable of hampering the peace we worked together to achieve before, during and after the elections.”
“Elections are not over in Nigeria until after the inauguration and conclusion of cases in the court,” said Rev. Hayab. He charged the clerics and other leaders present to actively participate in helping dispel tension and mitigate violence amongst their followers.
Sheikh Halliru Abdullahi Maraya, the Northern Coordinator of GPF Nigeria, stated that the 2023 general elections are one of the most peaceful in the last 100 years of Nigerian political record thanks to the hard work of all parties present at the peacebuilding forum. Sheik Maraya applauded religious leaders for not letting political agendas overtake their places of worship, but instead encouraged people to uphold common values and the nation’s interests as a whole. “Regardless of religious leanings, faith leaders must accept that as humans, we are first, members of one family under God and do all they can to preach it,” Sheik Maraya said.
Alhaji Yusuf Muhammad, the Sa’en Lere, who is the representative of Kaduna State Traditional Council and joint Patron of the KSPMC, and Rev. Bitrus Dangiwa, the Co-Chairman of KSPMC emphatically sounded in their separate remarks that Kaduna State Peace and Mediation Committee is one of the best things that has ever happened to Kaduna state. According to Alhaji Yusuf, “The last election is the most peaceful I have witnessed in my life as an electorate in this country. It was relatively peaceful, particularly in Kaduna state, and thanks to the effort of GPF Nigeria.” He further pointed out that war and crisis begin from something small, so the Nigerian people must not give it a chance. He agreed with other speakers saying, “Religious leaders must set the standard and live by example. Do all you can and ensure you disseminate what we discuss here in your various churches and mosques.”
“The last election is the most peaceful I have witnessed in my life as an electorate in this country. It was relatively peaceful, particularly in Kaduna state, and thanks to the effort of GPF Nigeria.”
People across faith and denomination embraced the message of peace at the forum, pledging to work towards a peaceful transition during the turnover of administration.
GPF Nigeria is continuing to advocate for community-driven peacebuilding through Peace and Reconciliation Committees around the country. Groups like the Lapai Peace and Reconciliation Committee are expanding sub-committees to address specific needs such as “Research, Quick Response, and Mediation.” Peace and Reconciliation Committees also conduct training programs for volunteers and are the planners for peace festivals that will be held throughout the coming year.
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