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The Center for Grassroot Education Healthcare and Empowerment has Sensitised residents of Ogun State on reasons for peaceful coexistence.
The group, in partnership with Network For Peace And Security For Women, ECOWAS region, during a press conference with members of the community on Wednesday, called for an end to racism and discrimination.
The groups made the call in commemoration of International Peace Day, at its annual conference held at the National Labour Congress Secretariat, in Abeokuta the state capital.
Speaking on the theme, “End Racism; Build Peace”, President of the Education Gender Youth and Family Network, Prof. Helen Bodunde, said that the world is void of peace as a result of injustice, and social and economic discrimination.
Bodunde noted that peace could only be reinstalled when there is equal opportunity regardless of gender or socioeconomic affluent, saying all stakeholders need to be sensitized to the importance of peacebuilding in every community
She said, “Today marks the Celebration of International Peace Day. The theme for this year’s celebration is “End Racism and Build Peace.”
“And you know that no time is arced for that because of what is going on all over the world. We discovered that either negative or positive peace, we have noticed that in the cause of avarice discrimination, selfishness, weakness, and covetousness, there is no peace in the world.
“Today, we are here to sensitize people because people feel that when you talk of peace it is the absence of violence but it goes beyond that. When there is injustice and social and economic discrimination, there is bound to be violence. And when everybody desires to have a bit of recognition then that brings violence.
“Racism is within. Muslims will want to have it all as well as Christians. The opportunities that are at hand in the nation depend on who is in the leadership.”
She emphasized that women and youth bear the brunt of violence, saying when you talk of lack of inclusiveness, which is racism, is keyed negatively towards women and youths.
“The equity to everyone is not there. That is why we want to sensitize ourselves so that we look at ourselves first rather than throwing stones at other people. This is to come up with something that will make peace building possible.
“Peace building is a continuous process and you cannot build peace when you do not involve the stakeholders. That is why the representation of communities, religious bodies, and youths is so that they can pass it on to other people. And the government needs to play its role.
On his part, the Chief Executive Director of cenGEHE, Adekola Adenekan, noted that to build peace there must be unity between all stakeholders regardless of their differences.
According to Adenekan, even though we are different, we need to make sure we work together because together we can achieve more.
“We want to see how we can synergize, collaborate and how we can communicate and show commitment to humanity. We should recognize that when we are decent in recognizing our differences, that life can go on and development can set in.
“Very important at this period in Nigeria when people now preach criticism in one form or the other to recognize leadership or to support who they want to support.
“The important thing is how we can ensure development is in place irrespective of where the person comes from, how the person is, the level of economic affluence, the gender, the drive, or religion. We should recognize that we are one.”
Also, gender and conflicts analyst, Mojisola Akinsanya emphasized the need for women and youth involvement in peace force, adding that there should be more women’s representation in policy making.
“We don’t want to see women as victims of violence but how they can be on the table to make sure that women are part of the peace processes.
“We want to make sure that we don’t give youths the clinche of name when we hear election. It is abou thuggery and violence. So, we are here to turn that narrative so that youths can be a lid on our system.
“To stop calling youths as future leaders again by seeing them as leaders of today. We want to see how youths can be involved in all electoral processes and international observation. We want to train and give them capacity on how they can join all these things.
Also, speaking, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Oyo State, Mutiu Agboke who noted that the Independent Electoral Commission has devised means to end the electoral crisis, advised that voters shun violence during the election period and embrace peace.
“INEC as electoral management has perfected the process for the participants, i.e the electorate, the political parties, and the voters.
“We want people to understand the need for them to show enthusiasm, readiness, and willingness in voting on Election Day. That is why the organizers have looked at the reasons and the way out of people being apathetic to the voting process.
“A state of being apathetic is to say that you are having a disaffection for the electoral process because of certain things such as people being skeptical that their votes will not count. And in that regard, they have issues with the election management body.
“So, from the issue of accreditation, your vote is guaranteed. From the issue of sorting out, your vote is guaranteed and the most guaranteed process is the collation process.
“Somebody will say before now there was no law. If on election day you were caught by any security agent, you are liable to be charged with a fine of N500,000 or you go to jail for two years and if you see the other side of the judge the two can be combined. Before now, no law regulated all of these.”
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