The Closing Ceremony of Youth Peace Camp V was held on the 21st of November, 2020 at the Citizenship and Leadership Training Center, Shere Hills, Jos. The Coordinator, CLTC welcomed all who were present and congratulated the participants who he said displayed good and exemplary character. He urged them to put all they had learned into practice in their communities as they returned home. Following the remarks by the Unit Coordinator, Director of Administration IGSR, Dr. Waheed Adedeji also urged the participants to be diligent in stepping down all they had learned during the camp. The Course Report was subsequently presented by the Unit Course Officer, Mr. Fatai Adekunle who reported that all 497 participants remarkably qualified for certificates.
The closing ceremony also witnessed a cultural dance and drama, portraying diversity and unity as essential qualities of any peaceful society was presented by the participants. Afterward, 10 participants representing the 5 LGAs presented a communique that summarized the lessons they had learned during the camp, observations and recommendations which they had. According to the communique, the participants learned that intolerance, violent narratives and negative societal attitudes were responsible for increasing radicalization and violent extremism in several parts of Nigeria, including Plateau State. They resolved to use peaceful means to resolve all issues involving grievances as well as selflessly contribute to peacebuilding efforts by relevant stakeholders.
The Youth Peace Camp a project of the Institute of Governance and Social Research (IGSR) in collaboration with the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF) and the Citizenship and Leadership Training Centre (CLTC) with the theme “The Youth and Peaceful Coexistence in Community: The Plateau Case” in Plateau Central Senatorial Zone.
The core objective of the Camp is to re-orientate the vulnerable youths from the Central Zone of Plateau State who are susceptible to Violent Extremism. The Youth Peace Camp was a seven-day event which is designed to encourage peaceful coexistence and tolerance for each other’s values; establish Youth Peace Corps in each of the troubled wards of the 5 LGAs in order to discourage youth radicalization and violent extremism; prevent youth from engaging in extreme behaviour, and encourage peacebuilding as well as peaceful conflict resolution in the area.
In Round I of the project, 1,711 (one thousand seven hundred and eleven) Youths from Bokkos, Mangu, and Pankshin were sponsored to participate in 5 Youth Peace Camps (of 450 per camp). Due to the successes recorded from the first round, a second round of the project was organized and extended to the two other Local Government Areas in the Central Zone (Kanam and Kanke).In Round II, 5 camps have been organized for youths drawn from Bokkos, Mangu, Kanam, Kanke and Pankshin Local Government Areas in batches of 500 per camp. A total of 1,864 (one thousand eight hundred and sixty-four) youths have currently been trained in the second round of the project.
The fifth camp in Round II commenced on 15th November 2020 and was successfully concluded on the 21st of November 2020, with a total of 497 participants graduating from the Youth Peace Camp as Youth Peace Ambassadors.
During each camp, the youth go through a series of physical and mental training in the form of special exercise drills and lectures by carefully selected trainers with expertise in the different subject areas. The training includes topics such as: Towards De-radicalization of the youth: The Role of Political and Religious Leaders; Youth as Agents of Non-violent Change in Nigeria; Role of Sports in Peace Building and National Unity; Extreme behavior and Societal Harmony: Towards Countering Violent Extremism; Communication: An Effective tool for Conflict and Rumour Management; Entrepreneurship Skills and Capacity Building for the youth; and De-radicalizing through Youth Empowerment (practical dimension).
Through these topics, lecturers taught participants various ways to resolve conflicts without resorting to violence, the importance of effective communication to avoid instigating conflicts, the importance of understanding and tolerance to foster peaceful co-existence. Through the physical drills, participants learned strong core values of teamwork, unity, friendship, confidence and development of self-will. All of which increased their sense of self-worth, importance and value to themselves and their communities giving them the courage to stand for themselves and their communities as agents of peace no longer available to be used to perpetrate violence and the importance and value of a life was also appreciated by the participants.
Upon the successful completion of the Peace Camp participants become members of the Youth Peace Ambassadors network. As a member of the network they are expected to be ambassadors of peace in their communities, to step down lessons learned during camp on the prevention of extreme violence anger and stress management, alternative dispute and conflict resolutions without resorting to violence (and more); to embark on various community development activities to promote peaceful co-existence and tolerance.
The Youth Peace Ambassadors network also serves is a forum where these youth can meet and discuss the different issues in their communities and proffer peaceful and sustainable solutions. It is also through this forum that youths encourage themselves to carry out projects that are beneficial to their community and advice others to live by example as agents of peace and pay forward all they have learned about peaceful co-existence and tolerance.
Participants at the Youth Peace Camp V recommended that the government regulate the sale of illicit drugs, build the capacity of young entrepreneurs and provide them with soft loans, and facilitate collaboration between the Sports, Information and Tourism Ministries in order to boost economic growth and curb employment.
Following the presentation of the communique, the Project Manager IGSR, Ms. Victoria Isawa-Elaigwu inducted the participants into the Youth Peace Ambassadors Network, after which she declared the Youth Peace Camp V closed. The Senior Programme Officer IGSR, Mr Samuel Emelis gave the vote of thanks and encouraged participants to use the knowledge they gained during the camp to promote peaceful co-existence in their communities. All participants from the 5 LGAs departed for their respective communities accompanied by security escorts.