Peace and Security

9/11 Memorial Peace Forum Held in Edo State

Benin City, Nigeria - Joining organizations and governments around the world in remembrance of the attacks on September 11, 2001,  the Youth Federation for World Peace, Universal Peace Federation, the Nigerian NGO Project Hope and Change, and the government of Edo State, Nigeria, hosted some 200 participants at a commemorative program on effective peace building, "Peace: No Alternative." The September 11, 2009, event was hosted at the Nigerian Television Authority main auditorium in Benin City.

Edo State is one of the troubled states within the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria, a region rich in crude oil. While producing most of the capital wealth of the nation, the area suffers from endemic poverty, with few or no concrete plans for sustainable development being implemented. In recent times, acts of militancy and kidnapping have heightened tensions, and the threat of wider conflict and violence has touched the lives of thousands of Nigerians.

Peace: No Alternative

The 9/11 program was particularly focused on presenting a positive, forward-looking response to conditions of conflict in the region. Professor (Chief) Julius O. Ihonvbere, a co-sponsor the event, a leading political scientist, and former special adviser to federal government of Nigeria, emphasized the need for peaceful resolution of conflicts, and promised his continued support of peacebuilding efforts.

Femi Falana, one of Africa’s foremost legal luminaries, a human rights activist, and the president of the West African Bar Association, presented the keynote address. He expressed his deep admiration for the peace initiatives.

The Edo State Governor H. E. Adams Oshiomhole, was represented by his senior protocol officer, Mr. Ararese Idubor, who also expressed his commendations to the organizers for the initiative. “The idea of one family under God, when put to practice, can really correct the various difficult relationships that seem to exist not only in Nigeria, but amongst peoples and nations around the globe,” the governor’s representative said.

At the assembly Professor Ihonvbere was named an UPF Ambassador for Peace and honorary YFWP Young Ambassador for Peace in recognition of his commitment to the education and encouragement of Nigerian youths. Also named as a Young Ambassador for Peace was the Hon. Anthony Osazuwa, a special adviser to the Assembly Speaker.

The Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the UPF, Chief Segun Olusola (a former Nigerian Ambassador to Ethiopia) and Eras Darlington, national president of YFWP-Nigeria, commended the awardees and urge them to foster the ideals of unity beyond the boundaries of ethnicity and religion as they work to lead the world toward the vision of one family under God.

A Culture of Peace

YFWP later organized a three-day program on September 19-21 as part of Culture of Peace month. The program at the Beverly Hills Hotel and Resort in Port Harcourt City, Rivers State, Nigeria, culminated on September 21, the United Nations-designated International Day of Peace, and emphasized action steps to further ideals of peace and alleviate tensions and causes of conflict.

The program included workshops to empower women and provide support for job seekers, and a special dinner and presentation of Young Ambassador for Peace certificates to outstanding young peace makers.

Youth Federation President Darlington encouraged the honored participants to collaborate with international peace builders in service and relief projects, character education programs, and other initiatives to resolve conflict. Accepting the Young Ambassador for Peace designation on behalf of Her Excellency Dame Judith Amaechi, First Lady of the Rivers State of Nigeria, the Honorable Commissioner of Women’s Affairs Barrister Mrs. Manuella George-Izunwa thanked YFWP and pledged continuing efforts toward peace building in the state. She enumerated the various peace activities the Governor’s wife has embarked upon for youths in the state. “Women are foremost in making peace, so any peace initiative without the active involvement of women will be short-lived”, she said.

Representatives of the Rivers State Ministry of Youth, the Rivers State Rehabilitation Centre, the Rivers State Conference for Sustainable Development, and many others were present at the occasion, and received the Young Ambassadors for Peace designation.

The program left a lingering impression in the heart of participants, observed YFWP organizer Derek Umoh: “We have in our power to make peace where there is conflict, to keep peace and strengthen harmony amidst differing opinions, and to build sustainable peace amongst the families of the world: Peace is the way, there is No Alternative."

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