The Institute of Governance and Social Research (IGSR) in collaboration with the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF) has successfully trained another set of 500 Youths from Plateau Central Senatorial Zone at a seven-day Youth Peace Camp.
The camp was organized at the Citizenship and Leadership Training Center, Mountain School, Shere Hills, Jos from 19th to 25th September, bringing together youth from Bokkos, Kanam, Kanke, Mangu and Pankshin Local Government Areas. The Youth Peace Camp, which is one of several IGSR activities under a project titled “The Youth and Peaceful Coexistence in Community: The Plateau Case”, is specifically designed to re-orientate the youth on their perception of one another, encourage peaceful co-existence and tolerance for each other’s values; discourage youth radicalization and violent behaviour, and encourage peacebuilding as well as peaceful conflict resolution in the area.
During the camp, the youth were engaged in a sequence of training which were both physical and mental as well as lectures from experienced resource persons in the various subject areas. The lectures included topics such as; The Role of Religious Leaders in de-radicalization of the youth; Youth as Agents of Non-violent Change in Nigeria; Role of Sports in Peace Building and National Unity; Extreme behaviour and Societal Harmony; Entrepreneurship Skills and Capacity Building for the youth, Communication as an Effective Tool for Conflict and Rumor Management among others. During these interactions, resource persons drawn from relevant professions/agencies taught participants the alternative ways to resolve conflicts without resorting to violence, the importance of understanding and tolerance and the importance of effective communication to avoid conflicts.
Through the physical drills, participants learnt core values of leadership, cooperation, unity, confidence and determination; all of which increased their sense of self-esteem, significance and value to themselves and their communities. This will go a long way in positively shaping their vision for themselves and their communities as agents of peace.
Following the intensive one-week course, a Closing Ceremony was held for the Youth Peace Camp on the 25th of September, 2021. Several dignitaries were in attendance including the Former Chairman of Bassa Local Government Council, Hon. David Racha (the Chairman of the Occasion); the Representative of the Director-General, Plateau Peacebuilding Agency (the Special Guest) Mr Elkannah Izam; the IGSR President, Ms Victoria Isawa-Elaigwu; the IGSR Senior Programme Officer, Mr Samuel Emelis; the IGSR Director of Administration, Dr Waheed Adedeji and The Unit Coordinator C<C, Alhaji Abdulmumuni Maimako.
The C<C Unit Coordinator in his introductory remarks welcomed everybody present and particularly congratulated the participants who he said displayed exemplary character during their training. He appreciated IGSR and GCERF for enlightening and encouraging the youths to become peace agents in their communities. He urged the youths to be ambassadors of IGSR and C<C as they return to their respective communities.
Following the remarks by the Unit Coordinator, IGSR’s Director of Administration, Dr Waheed Adedeji welcomed everyone to the closing ceremony and congratulated participants, accompanying officers, recruiters, stakeholders and IGSR staff for a successful camp. He observed that in the first round of the project, 1,711 youths were trained by IGSR in five Youth Peace Camps. The project is currently in its second round and will be coming to an end in December 2021, and a total of 6,097 youths have been trained so far as Youth Peace Ambassadors.
In his opening remarks, the chairman of the occasion, Hon. David Racha hailed IGSR for its efforts over the years in the Northern and Central Senatorial Zones of Plateau State. He urged the participants to be ambassadors of peace in their respective communities and work closely with relevant authorities in order to maintain stable and peaceful communities.
The CLTC Course Officer, Mr Ezekiel Buba gave a report on the training course, observing that remarkably, all 500 participants who had attended the training qualified to graduate and should be given certificates of attendance.
The President IGSR, Ms Victoria Isawa-Elaigwu, in her remarks, congratulated all the participants for being qualified to become Youth Peace Ambassadors. She inducted them into the Youth Peace Ambassador Network and admonished them to put all negative behaviours behind themselves and embrace their new calling as agents of peace in their communities.
A dance-drama presentation by a cultural troupe consisting of youths from the five local governments followed, entertaining guests and depicting the need for unity in order to attain development in the society. Subsequently, 10 Youth Peace Ambassadors representing the 5 LGAs presented a communiqué that summarized the lessons they had learnt during the camp with observations and recommendations. In their observations, the youths saw the need for an improved curriculum for secondary school students incorporating entrepreneurial training and skills, poverty alleviation schemes and concerted efforts by stakeholders, including government, traditional and religious institutions, to promote peaceful co-existence, mutual respect and understanding amongst the youths. They also resolved to work as agents of peace in their communities, serving as bridges between dissenting parties and conflicting communities.
Following the presentation of the communiqué, the Special Guest of Honour and representative of the Director-General, Plateau Peace Building Agency, appreciated IGSR for its efforts in sustaining peace and preventing radicalization and violent extremism in Plateau State. He charged participants to visualize the type of state they desire and work tirelessly towards achieving it. Finally, he reiterated the Agency’s commitment to its existing partnership with IGSR and sustaining structures that have been established.
The Senior Programme Officer IGSR, Mr Samuel Emelis gave the vote of thanks and encouraged participants to use the information they gained during the camp to improve their communities. Finally, the Project Manager, IGSR inducted the participants into the Youth Peace Ambassadors Network and declared the camp closed. Afterwards, participants were issued certificates and recited the Peace Pledge one final time before departing to their respective communities.