By Brave Dickson
An international non-governmental organisation known as Search For Common Ground (SFCG) has distributed peace campaign T-shirts to the people of Gokana, Okrika and Port Harcourt City Local Government Areas of Rivers State as part of its initiative to end conflict violence in the state.
The T-shirts distribution which took place in the three LGAs during its peace meetings with the people of the areas had youths, women, men, chiefs, politicians, security agents as well as other stakeholders in attendance.
According to the Rivers State Coordinator, Search For Common Ground, Mr Cosmos Dinee: “Today’s activity was for the campaign for peace. It is an effort aimed at strengthening the voices of community members to always speak for peace and speak against violence. We urge participants to go back to their various communities with the message of reconciliation.
“I think Gokana LGA, in particular, has witnessed reduced violence because of our activities on peace. We are doing our best, and we are getting consistent results.”
The state coordinator of SFCG also advised participants to always show love to one another, adding that such trait will go along way in sustaining peace in their families, communities and the society at large.
Participants who took turns to speak with our correspondent on how SFCG has positively impacted peace in their families and communities promised to help sustain peace in their respective domains.
The Gokana Chapter Leader of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), Comrade Barida Promise warned youths on the dangers in crime, appealing to youths to desist from crime.
He said: “Search For Common Ground has been helpful to us for some time now, especially in the area of peacebuilding in our communities. We are happy to have Search For Common Ground coming to us at a time like this when violence has decided to be endemic in Ogoni.
“My advice to the youths is that crime is not the best way to go because you will get nothing good from it. They should shun crime and follow the way of peace and support the peace initiative of Search For Common Ground, the LG councils and state government.”
A representative of the National Orientation Agency (NOA) in Okrika, Mr Golden Femie said the peace event organised by Search For Common Ground has helped them (NOA) with new strategies which they are going to apply in their job,
Mr Femie said: “What Search For Common Ground is doing is an excellent job and I urge it to keep on. It has helped to make our job more accessible, and we will support SFCG to make sure that its peace campaign gets to all nooks and crannies of the Niger Delta Region.
“My advice to the participants of this event is that they should all be lovers of peace so that development can thrive in our respective domains and also take this message of peace they have learnt here to everywhere.”
Also, the Chairman, Community Development Committee of Idango-Ama in the Marine Base axis of Port Harcourt, Elder Daju Emma Atamuno maintained that the meeting has further made them prioritise peace in their communities.
His words: “We also learnt the need to keep our immediate and extended families peaceful and to help each other. I thank SFCG for the enormous peace it has brought to our communities through its peacebuilding programmes.”
Arising from the three LGAs’ peace meetings were communiqués unanimously adopted by participants which included;
(GOKANA): That NYCN should partner with NOA on youth sensitisation, community leaders should imbibe love and forgiveness to enhance peace in our communities; we must stop actions that reward violence and governments and NGOs should provide economic support to enable the youths to redirect their energy.”
(PORT HARCOURT): That Rotating of meeting venue and spreading of participation should be encouraged to enhance the reach of the project in all communities as well as the setting up of women prayer forum that will pray before the start of SFCG meetings as such will help do SFCG’s peace projects to be successful.
(OKRIKA): That all participants should see themselves as agents for peace and always provide common ground when resolving conflicts and that communities should organise themselves in a manner that will create a peaceful environment to enable companies to operate in order for jobs to be available for the youths.