Leadership Conference Held in Nairobi
Written by Dr. Raphael Ogar Oko, Secretary General, UPF-Nigeria
Saturday, March 29, 2014
Nairobi, Kenya - The planned collaborative Special Leadership Conference between UPF-Nigeria and UPF-Ethiopia with the Global Educators for All Initiative scheduled to take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was changed to Nairobi, Kenya, due to the challenges of obtaining visas.
With a determination to attend the Special Leadership Conference and learn more about UPF principles for peace, education and human development, 25 Ambassadors for Peace from Nigeria made the last-minute decision to attend the conference despite the change of hosting nation from Ethiopia to Kenya. Being aware that the conference is a local follow up to the February International Leadership Conference held in Korea by UPF International, the Ambassadors for Peace from Nigeria were joined by UPF leaders and representatives from Benin, Uganda, Somalia, Eritria and Kenya for the Special Leadership Conference held at the 680 Hotel in Nairobi from March 27 – 29, 2014.
The theme for the conference was “Toward a New Paradigm for Education, Peace and Human Development in Africa.” The conference was organized with the support of UPF-Kenya, Secretary General, UPF-East Africa, Universal Chastity Education, Domestic Tourism Association of Kenya, the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification–Nigeria and Global Educators for All Initiative in addition to the initial efforts of UPF-Ethiopia.
The first day was devoted to arrivals and accreditation/registration of participants. The second day began with an opening ceremony at the 680 Hotels, Nairobi which featured the opening invocation, welcome address and opening remarks as well as the Founder’s Address. Representatives from Islam, Christianity and the African Traditional Religions offered the opening prayers. The welcome address was delivered by the National Chairperson of the Domestic Tourism Association of Kenya, Mrs. Anastanzia Wakesho. In her words:
We are honored to welcome the powerful delegation of Ambassadors for Peace from Nigeria, Benin, Uganda and Kenya to Nairobi. I think that it is the will of God that this special conference should take place here in Kenya, and we will do our best to offer you the kind hospitality of East Africans. Wherever Father Moon’s words are shared, peace flows in abundance. Your gathering to learn from the peace teachings of the UPF will surely usher an opportunity for peace in our country. I welcome you to Kenya and urge you to take out time to visit several tourist centers. Karibu sana (welcome).
Dr. Raphael Ogar Oko, Secretary General of UPF-Nigeria and convenor of the conference, gave an overview of the conference as well as the sub-themes to be discussed. He spoke about the opportunities being offered to Ambassadors for Peace through the leadership conferences at the international, regional and local levels.
We are gathering to examine three broad areas of the activities of the UPF, which are education, peace and human development. We need a new vision of education, a new generation of educators who must educate with the heart of true parents and create schools that are managed like families. We need to be guided by the universal principles for peace and also discuss issues of sustainable human development. These and many more will form the focus of our discussion. I am so honored and grateful to all of you, to our Creator for making it possible for us to be here today. The presentations shall be inspiring but surely challenging but I urge you to keep an open mind and let us discuss as leaders for a peaceful world.
The UPF Co-Founder’s address presented during the International Leadership Conference in Korea in February 2014 was delivered by the wife of the UPF-Kenya Secretary General. Everyone was moved by the words of Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon and her call to all participants to study the teachings of her husband in order to understand deeply their approach to building a peaceful world for all.
A special goodwill message from Senator Aloysius Etok of the National Assembly of Nigeria also charged the participants to take the discussions very seriously. In his words:
I am honored to be associated with the Universal Peace Federation and the organizers/facilitators of the Special Leadership Conference (SLC) taking place in Nairobi, Kenya as a follow up to the recent International Leadership Conference (ILC) in South Korea.
As you may be aware, this conference is taking place in Africa just a few weeks after the ILC in Korea, which I participated as the representative of Nigeria and on behalf of the Ambassadors for Peace in Nigeria. My participation at the ILC in Korea provided me a very unique opportunity to meet with other world leaders and to also learn about the universal principles for peace and many innovative programs and projects of the Universal Peace Federation. I believe that we all need to appreciate the commitment shown by the UPF founders to the realization of their unique calling to facilitate the realization of a peaceful world. If each of us can do a little of what they have done, our world will soon become a peaceful world, a world without wars again.
The presentations at the ILC were very inspiring and the discussions from the high level VIPs were enriching. I was deeply moved by the wisdom and issues raised at the conference. I am aware that the theme of the SLC, which you are attending, is “Toward a New Paradigm of Education, Peace and Development.” These three key words form a unique trinity that can bring about a new world of peace. So, the relevance of this conference cannot be overemphasized. I therefore urge you to make a commitment to honest discussions, sharing of ideas and building of new friendships. I urge you to deliberate on very sustainable ways to building a new culture of education, peace and development.
As a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who recently attended the UPF International Leadership Conference, I want to congratulate each of you attending this SLC in Kenya. Take every opportunity seriously and as a unique one. I am available to share the outcome of your deliberations at this conference with my colleagues at the National Assembly of Nigeria as well as other colleagues in Africa. If there are issues that require legislative support to ensure improvement in education, peace and development in Africa, be assured of my commitment to facilitating them.
After the opening session, key presentations were made. First, Rev. Mwalagho Kililo, UPF-East Africa Secretary General, presented the Introduction to UPF Ambassadors for Peace and the Universal Principles for Peace. Vice President of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification-Nigeria, George Marcus Ogurie, delivered an inspiring presentation on Marriage and the Family, which was followed by a presentation on Integration, Cohesion and Ethnicity in Africa. The Secretary General of UPF-Somalia gave an update and report to the conference participants on the situation in Somalia and called on Ambassadors for Peace to support UPF-Somalia to engage the young people and leaders of Somalia in peacebuilding initiatives.
There was also a special presentation by Mr. Tonye Dan Isokariari on the SURE-P of the Federal Government of Nigeria and how it was making impact through the utilization of funds being generated through the removal of the oil subsidy by the Nigerian government. The final presentation for the day was by Hon. Lukpata Ogana, a legislator from the Cross River State House of Assembly, who spoke on Conflict Resolution in Africa.
The final day of the conference featured presentations on the role of agriculture in sustainable development in Africa by Mr. Odey Martin Oguda, Regional Director of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, as well as a special presentation by Mr. Sunday Emmanuel Essien, National President of the South South Apex Farmers Association of Nigeria. Dr. Hannah Ishola spoke on Interfaith Dialogue as a panacea for peace and development in Africa while Rev. George Ogurie’s presentation was on Building Bridges Across Faiths.
The representative from Uganda, Walubo Jude T, gave a presentation on the Peace Education program of Teachers Without Borders in Uganda, while Rev. Kililo spoke on Issues of Corruption in Africa. The closing session featured a presentation of Ambassadors for Peace certificates to four participants from Nigeria, two from Kenya and one from Uganda. Certificates of participation were issued to participants. Participants expressed sincere appreciation to the UPF for organizing the conference and requested that such conferences be organized regularly for Ambassadors for Peace as each person made a personal determination to become peacebuilders in their families and local communities.
One of the inspiring aspects of the effort is that each participant was responsible for the cost of travels, accommodation and meals as well as payment for conference materials. Participants emphasized the need to promote cross-cultural marriages between West and East Africans, especially Nigerians and Kenyans. The government of Kenya was commended for her open policy that allows all people to visit Kenya and are issued visas on arrival. Participants urged African leaders to consider removing all policies that hinder free movement across the continent. The Ambassadors for Peace also agreed to contribute toward the development of educational programs by UPF-Somalia to address the challenges in Somalia. Conference participants called on African leaders to explore innovative approaches to ensuring high-quality education in Africa with emphasis on character education, promotion of non-violence and integration of the African continent.
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