Promoting Community Dialogue to Achieve Sustainable Peace in Abuja and the Region

Robin McDonough
May 30, 2024
A group of men, some dressed in religious clothing, exchange handshakes and smiles under a canopy outside a colorful building in Abuja, fostering community dialogue for sustainable peace.

Faith leaders greet each other at the Abuja Community Dialogue Summit for Peace.

Peacebuilding is everyone’s responsibility regardless of faith, gender, age, or background. This was confirmed by the diverse people who attended the one-day summit, “Community Dialogue for Peace: Uniting Traditional and Religious Leaders in Supporting Security in Abuja and Its Environs,” sponsored by the Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Nigeria. On April 4, 2024, various traditional leaders within Abuja and the surrounding districts, interfaith religious leaders, and men, women, and youth of diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds joined forces at the Palace of His Royal Highness Sa’peyi of Garki, Abuja, to participate in this vital community peacebuilding event.

Recognizing the fundamental need within the community to address the increasing insecurity experienced in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and the region, about 80 people attended the one-day summit. The attendees actively engaged in dialogue to find the root causes of the insecurity and develop viable solutions to achieve peace. This was a collaborative effort that emphasized the significant role that interfaith religious leaders play in promoting security and peace in their communities. Using tools such as dialogue, collaboration, and strategic planning, the diverse leaders support their communities in their pursuit of peaceful coexistence.

A group of men dressed in traditional attire hold signs reading

Nigerians show support for One Family under God.

Several speakers provided valuable insights into the need for community involvement in peacebuilding activities to address the increasing insecurity. They included the Secretary of the Garki Traditional Council, Elder (Dr.) Lazarus Nyaholo, representing His Royal Highness the Sa’peyi of Garki-Abuja, Alh (Dr.) Usman KgaKupi; Country Director of GPF Nigeria, Rev. John Joseph Hayab; and International Development Specialist and GPF Regional Representative for Africa, Rev. Father Canice Chinyeaka Enyiaka.

Elder Nyaholo welcomed everyone on behalf of His Royal Highness. He thanked GPF Nigeria for uniting traditional and religious leaders to pursue security and peace and voiced his hope for a successful summit outcome.

Rev. Hayab thanked the royal father for his generosity in hosting the summit. He also recognized the traditional and interfaith leaders in attendance. He acknowledged that their highly valued wisdom and influence were necessary to develop a viable community-led plan to reduce insecurity and achieve peace. Further, Rev. Hayab noted that peacebuilding in the FCT requires a collective effort, emphasizing that “the task of curbing insecurity and securing our communities requires all hands to be on deck, so we must see ourselves as collaborators, not competitors.” He also recognized women as peacebuilders within their families and communities.

At a community dialogue in Abuja, a man in a white shirt speaks into a microphone at an event, with another man in traditional attire seated beside him.

Father Canice Chinyeaka Enyiaka speaks at the Community Dialogue Summit for Peace in Abuja, Nigeria.

Presenting the Community Context of GPF’s vision of One Family Under God, Father Enyiaka provided an overview of the organization’s establishment in 2009, highlighting its global operations, areas of focus, and values-based approach to peacebuilding. He further emphasized that values are the foundation of achieving peace and called on the return to the core African values. Joined together by our shared humanity, Father Enyiaka reiterated, “What should motivate our actions toward one another should be the understanding that we all have a spark of God.” He concluded that a peaceful community is everyone’s responsibility, and a grassroots approach to achieving peace based on universal principles and values is essential. The religious and traditional leaders are instrumental in this effort, and their moral values are a guiding force and the summit’s focus.

Others who expressed their gratitude to GPF Nigeria for convening the summit were Imam Fuad Adeyemi of the Al-Habibiyah Mosque in Guzape, Abuja; His Grace, Salika Dasa (Temple President of Jos and Vice Chairman of the National Council of the International Society for Krishna); Mohammed Ibrahim Gamawa from Imam Malik Foundation; and Rev. Dr. Wumai Kure, the Presiding Pastor of ECWA Church Garki. Each highlighted our shared humanity, which should be the foundation for building upon and collaborating in a community-driven approach to achieving the desired security and peace.

With security and peace at the forefront of the summit, traditional and interfaith leaders were called upon to use their influence to involve community members in collectively developing and implementing solutions for the problems encountered. Attendees actively discussed the challenges and measures needed to move forward proactively.

Underlying problems such as drug abuse, political influence, reduced family cohesiveness, and poverty and ignorance were discussed as factors leading to insecurity. Solutions offered include ongoing community dialogue, education, stronger laws, increased parental involvement, economic empowerment, and continued support for GPF Nigeria.

Actions such as these mandate the involvement of everyone in the community. According to Alhassan Dangana, the District Head of Mabushi, on behalf of the Chief of Garki, “the challenges of insecurity confronting FCT and its environs are not insurmountable but only requires that everyone makes it his/her business.”

Attendees were actively engaged throughout the summit and thanked GPF for sponsoring the event. For example, Mallam Ali Umar, the chief imam of the palace mosque, said, “This summit has revolutionized my belief pattern, particularly as it affects people of other faiths. I am now better equipped to preach to the conscience of the faithful in the mosque.”

GPF Nigeria will continue to leverage all available opportunities to collaborate with stakeholders to increase security and achieve peaceful coexistence in the FCT and the region. The one-day summit “Community Dialogue for Peace: Uniting Traditional and Religious Leaders in Supporting Security in Abuja and Its Environs” exemplifies the benefit of working with traditional leaders, interfaith leaders, and diverse community members on this universal goal based on our shared humanity.

Follow Us

Take Action

Create a positive and impactful change in your area today.

Recent Posts

Related Articles