International Leadership Conference Held in Nigeria
Written by UPF-Nigeria
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Abuja, Nigeria - An International Leadership Conference on the theme “One Family under God: A New Vision for Peace in the 21st Century” was held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, the capital of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This event, which was part of the Global Peace Tour 2009, drew participants from across Nigeria, including Ambassadors for Peace and other dignitaries.
Among the dignitaries was Chief Amb. Segun Olusola, former Nigerian Ambassador to Ethiopia, Founder and Patron of the African Refugees Foundation, and Chairman of the UPF-Nigeria Board of Trustees, who served as the chairman of the event. Other speakers included Senator Dr. Tari Sekibo, also a member of the UPF Board of Trustees. Assistant Inspector General of Police Mrs. Okoronkwo represented the Inspector General of Police Mr. Mike Okiro as the Guest of Honor.
Chief Olusola threw light on the core values of the UPF, which he summarized as: spirituality, love, and service to all. Reminiscing on the violent clashes between Christians and Muslims last December in Jos, Plateau State, Chief Olusola stressed the need for proactive peace building by civil society organizations. He assured everyone that UPF was open and committed to working together with all and sundry on programs that promote peace. He also used the opportunity to call on the nation to support the government of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in realizing its Seven-Point Agenda toward the development of the nation.
George M. Ogurie spoke on the topic: “Spiritual Values as a Foundation for Leadership.” The presentation touched on the implications of each of our actions on the afterlife. With this in mind, he pointed out that if an Ambassador for Peace should incite people into acts capable of causing a breach of the peace, he or she automatically loses the moral right to that title, even if he or she displays all the paraphernalia of an Ambassador for Peace.
In the second session, two representatives of the Interfaith Mediation Centre, a Muslim-Christian Dialogue Forum in Kaduna, Rev. Bitrus Dangiwa and Imam Mohammad Sani Isah, made presentations on “Promoting Interfaith Cooperation and Conflict Resolution or Building God-centered Marriages and Families.” They represented Imam Ashafa Mohammed and Pastor James Wuye. Imam Ashafa and Pastor James were erstwhile militants who fought each other in a violent conflict between Christians and Muslims in the northern Nigerian City of Kaduna some eight years ago. They both reconciled are working together to promote interfaith cooperation.
A high point of this session was a drama presentation by Epoch Group depicting the union of a Christian family and Muslim family through marriage. The son of a Christian family intends to marry the daughter of a Muslim family. The two young people are in love, but this is unacceptable to the Muslim family. Unknown to both parents, the young man is the son of a man who had performed an act of true love at an early age by donating one of his kidneys to none other than the man who happens to be the father of his would-be daughter-in-law. When the two parents came across each and discovered who would become their in-laws, no religious difference could stop the marriage. True love had prevailed. The drama was beautifully presented. Some participants shed tears. Nigeria has a well-developed drama industry.
During the discussion session, Dr. Emmanuel Akpan (a medical doctor) said something that reflected the general mood of the participants: “I was a victim of religious riots in Kano several years ago, and I know how strongly the protagonists can express hatred toward each other. I am amazed to see these two gentlemen embracing each other on stage, sharing a podium and calling on everyone to eschew bitterness and hatred in the name of religion. I can’t believe this is happening in Nigeria. Everyone should learn about a program like this. I thank the UPF for providing this kind of forum.”
Participants were also treated to traditional folk music and dance as well as choral music by the UPF-Nigeria Choral Group. At the end, ten participants were appointed Ambassadors for Peace, and Ambassadors for Peace certificates were presented to them. Some of the recipients were: Alhaji (Dr.) Mohammed Imam Yahaya (OFR); Rev. Bitrus Dangiwa and Imam Mohammad Sani Isah of the Interfaith Mediation Centre; Alhaji Abubakar Abdulahi Tafida, CEO of PHCN PLC Kano; Alhaji Idris Mohammed; Engr. A. G. Umar CEO of PHCN Abuja; and Engr. Ahmed Rufai Yusuf.
Rev. Dr. George Ikpot, M.C. of the event, expressed satisfaction at the quality of the participants and their level of enthusiasm and attention. He praised the presenters for the quality of the presentations that kept the participants so attentive and active.
The event was covered as a news event by the Nigerian Television Network, which has a viewership of over 30 million. Local Abuja radio stations such as Radio Nigeria, Abuja, and Ray-Power 91.5 FM also covered the event as news.
On-going programs embarked upon before this time included a courtesy visit to First Lady, H.E. Hajia Turai Yar’ Adua on March 17, by a team of women Ambassadors for Peace under the banner of Women for Peace International, an initiative of UPF. The visit was made in company of a group of orphans from several orphanages around Abuja.
Other on-going programs include a Zebra-Crossing marking program in Lagos at a point on a road where children cross to enter into their school compound. This was organized by Women’s Federation for World Peace-Nigeria in Lagos.
For the keynote address and more information about the peace tour, click here.
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