As part of its activities In observance of International World Peace Day on September 21st, 2023, the Gideon and Funmi Para-Mallam Peace Foundation paid a significant courtesy visit to the Commander Operation Safe Heaven and General Officer Commanding (GOC) 3 Division Nigerian Army, Major General AE Abubakar.
The visit underscored the crucial role played by the Nigerian Army in tirelessly working to restore peace, security, and stability across Plateau State and neighboring regions under the leadership of Major General Abubakar.
Leading the peace delegation was The Revd Dr. Gideon Para-Mallam, President and CEO of the Foundation, accompanied by his wife, Prof. Olufunmilayo Para-Mallam, a Director of Studies (DOS) at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS). Also present were Sheikh Adam Ghazali, Deputy Imam of the Central Mosque Jos and a Judge at the CAC Court, as well as other staff members of the foundation.
During the visit, Revd Dr. Para-Mallam expressed his gratitude to Major General Abubakar for his proactive efforts in quelling violence across Plateau State since assuming his dual roles as GOC 3 Division and Commander of Operation Safe Haven (OPSH).
“You came to Jos at a very difficult time, and since your arrival, we have witnessed tangible efforts to control the upsurge of violence that plagued the region before your tenure. We commend you for the direction in reducing these attacks, and we pray that God Almighty will continue to work toward bringing the attacks down to zero percent,” Revd Dr. Para-Mallam remarked.
He highlighted the significance of the courtesy visit, particularly in light of the International Day of Peace. Revd Para-Mallam elaborated on the Foundation’s activities, which focus on peace-building, advocacy, research, youth mentorship, capacity building for women in peacebuilding, and inter-religious dialogues. These efforts have resulted in several successful interventions over the years.
Rev. Para-Mallam emphasized the Foundation’s commitment to working closely with the Special Task Force to drive peace initiatives and partnerships, recalling one of the largest peace meetings ever held in southern Kaduna, organized by the Foundation.
Major General Abubakar, in response, warmly welcomed the Foundation’s delegation and commended their contributions to complementing the Army’s peacekeeping operations. While acknowledging the ongoing security challenges, he reiterated the importance of community-driven peace initiatives alongside military actions.
The GOC pledged the unwavering support of the 3rd Armored Division for the Foundation’s peace programs aimed at healing age-old divisions in society. He expressed confidence that Plateau State would regain its status as the ‘Home of Peace and Tourism’ through collective efforts.
Professor Olufunmilayo Para-Mallam, in her vote of thanks, expressed profound gratitude to Major General Abubakar for his remarkable work as STF Commander. She highlighted the significant impact of his leadership, which has become a reference point beyond Plateau State. She commended the General and offered prayers for his continued guidance in all activities.
This visit on World Peace Day highlights the collaborative approach between the military and civil society groups in addressing insecurity across Nigeria’s restive Middle Belt. With the Army adopting a more community-focused strategy, organizations like the Para-Mallam Peace Foundation aim to promote peace, and both entities strive to remain critical partners in transforming regions like Plateau, Kaduna, Southern Kaduna, and others, with the hope that attacks on communities will one day become a thing of the past.
It’s worth noting that prior to Major General Abubakar’s assumption of office as GOC and STF Commander, Plateau State experienced frequent attacks and killings, with data from The Para-Mallam Peace Foundation revealing 346 fatalities between April and July 2023. General Abubakar’s exemplary leadership has since led to a significant reduction in attacks and killings in the state.