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UN International Day of Families 2014

International Day of Families Observed in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria

Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria - Ambassadors for Peace commemorated the UN International Day of Families with a conference on "Families Matter on Achieving the Development Goals" on May 15, 2014. Participants in the conference included Ambassadors for Peace, religious and local traditional leaders, public civil servants, youth leaders and government representatives. Over 500 persons attended the one-day conference that was declared open by Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State Godswill Akpabio, who was represented by the State Commissioner for Information.

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The conference at the Akwa Ibom State Government Civil Service Auditorium, Idongesit Nkanga Secretariat featured discussions on the family as the school of human development and peace as well as promoting national unity through strong marriages and families. The conference chairman, Hon. Joe Offong, spoke on the significance of the family and called on all Ambassadors for Peace to make a sincere commitment to building strong and peaceful families as a tool for the realization of world peace. His opening remarks were followed by a special presentation of “We Are One Human Family under God” by an Akwa Ibom state based interdenominational choir group.

The UN Secretary-General’s message was read by Una B. Smart from the UPF-Nigeria Happy Health Wellness Center in Abuja. According to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, “As we commemorate this year’s International Day of Families, we recognize the meaningful contributions that families make to advancing the mission of the United Nations” Mr. Ban called for mobilizing the world’s families as countries strive to usher in a more sustainable future, achieve the Millennium Development Goals, shape a new development agenda and combat climate change.

“By providing economic and emotional sustenance to their members, families can raise productive, caring citizens committed to the common good. Strong, well-functioning families, whatever form they may take, can help reduce poverty, improve the wellbeing of mothers, promote gender equality and uphold human rights. Let us strive to strengthen these small but critical units found in every society so that we may advance as one human family toward greater progress”

The UPF-Nigeria Zonal Coordinator for Cross River, Akwa Ibom and Abia States, William S. Williams read the UPF recommendation on the need to strengthen families, which are stated below:

First, Universal Peace Federation acknowledges that the family is a microcosm of the global community. If the world is to finally come to an era of sustainable peace and harmony among civilizations, that peace must be founded on this basic, most intimate social unit of humankind. In other words, the family is the central building block of society, as well as being an instrument for peace and reconciliation.

Second, the family is universal. Regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, and religious affiliations, we are all members of families. Most importantly, the family is the school of love and ethics. Through experiences in our families, we learn to embrace and value all relationships in our wider human family; with friends, neighbors, co-workers, colleagues and strangers.

Third, marriage, parenting, and the family are the basis of human development and the core institutions for education in character, ethics, social relationships, and citizenship. Strong, healthy, loving parents and families help protect society from the moral decline of its youth, increase in crime, drug abuse and corruption, as well as the spread of diseases such as HIV/AIDS. In addition, they can help break down the age-old resentments that have fuelled religious, tribal, and civil conflict.

Fourth, throughout history, the family has experienced economic and social unrest, and its adaptability is now being threatened by a wide range of social, economic, cultural, and political developments. UPF chapters around the world are focusing on projects to overcome poverty and social exclusion within families and have been mindful to include underprivileged or marginalized groups in their programs. UPF includes wide representation of the various faith groups in its policies and projects.

Fifth, lasting peace is secured not merely through laws, backed by the power of government enforcement, but by a rising awareness of our universal solidarity as one human family, brothers and sisters who share a common spiritual and moral heritage. We are one family under God.

Governor Akpabio paid special tribute to the UPF founders for their commitment toward bringing all people and nations together to live in peace on earth and even in heaven. “We will work with the UPF and all people of the world to build one global family under God,” he said. The governor also called on all Nigerians to continue to pray for the release of the abducted girls of the Chibok school in northeast Nigeria.

The keynote lecture was delivered by Dr. Raphael Ogar Oko, Secretary General of UPF-Nigeria, on “The Family and the Millennium Development Goals,” in which he emphasized the significance of the family as the universal school of peace and the institution for sustainable development and love. “All the goals of the MDGs can be achieved if we make them our Family Development Goals. Eradication of extreme poverty and hunger begins from the family. The family is the best institution for achieving basic education while the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women must begin from our families. Our families should take up the responsibility of reducing child mortality and the improvement of maternal health. We can only win the war against HIV/AIDS when we have strong families who practice chastity before marriage and fidelity in marriage. If we realize that our society is our family, we will not waste the resources in our environment. Partnership for development begins from partnership between men and women, parents and children, among siblings, etc. In fact, the family is the school where we learn and practice the principles that can help achieve the MDGs.”

This presentation was followed by a general discussion on the place of the family in achieving the MDGs as well as national unification of Nigeria. Ambassadors for Peace renewed their commitment to building stable families and a draft of the outline of activities to achieve the National Unification Initiative was presented and endorsed by the participants at the conference. At the closing session, special awards were presented to the oldest Ambassadors for Peace for their work in strengthening families in their communities. Hon. Lukpata, a member of the Cross River State House of Assembly, received the UPF Nigeria medal as the most supportive Ambassador for Peace of the April 2014 membership drive.

At the closing session, participants commended the United Nations for the International Day of Families’ initiative and also commended the UPF founders for their lifelong work for world peace through loving families. They called on the government to create the Ministry of Family Affairs and establish a National Institute for Marriage as well as appealed for the introduction and marriage and family education in all tertiary educational institutions in Nigeria.

Twenty-seven new Ambassadors for Peace were inducted and presented certificates as part of the closing session. In recognition of the outstanding accomplishment of Governor Godswill Akpabio, the Ambassadors for Peace moved that the UPF Leadership and Good Governance award be presented to him in a later date and a special commendation letter as a “Family-Friendly Governor” be sent to him by UPF-Nigeria.

The event in Uyo was organized in partnership with the Akwa Ibom State chapter of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification and received media coverage by both private and government owned radio and TV stations and the local newspapers.

International Day of Families 2014 from Universal Peace Federation International

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