Nigeria’s Plateau communities are beginning to get along, years after violent clashes claimed thousands of lives, displacing over 100,000.
Over 60,000 people have died and over 130,000 others displaced in clashes between farmers and herders in the northcentral State since 2001.
Despite flooding streets and highways with armed securities, the clashes persisted until State Officials started the country’s first dialogue series.
“The dialogues organized in conjunction with non-governmental organizations have yielded positive results,” Director General of the Plateau Peace Building Agency, Mr. Joseph Lengmang said, Monday, during a maiden edition of the “Plateau Peace Architecture Forum (PPAF).
Parties that hitherto fought each other, Lengmang said are now agreeing to dialogue, and even sign “Expression of Commitment to Peace”.
Armed Securities are important, he said, but working closely in “systematic fashion” with conflict parties in local communities, according to him, would produce “desired outcomes”.
“This underscores the importance of shifting focus and attention to building or strengthening localized and highly inclusive peacebuilding structures, where stakeholders at the grassroots take ownership as opposed to placing premium on mere ad hoc security arrangements,” Mr. Lengmang said.
Plateau Peace Building Agency, the officiating outfit for all the dialogue programs, Lengmang said is decentralizing the previously city-based discussions, starting with the Plateau Peace Architecture Forum, to ensure “proper coordination of the players working in the Plateau state peacebuilding arena.”
“As part of our effort to address this gap therefore, we chose today’s theme: “Strengthening Coordination Role and Decentralization of the Plateau Peace Building Agency at the State and Local Government Levels”. This is considering the strategic importance of institutionalizing conflict prevention and peacebuilding beyond our state capital.”
The Plateau Peace Architecture Forum is expected to expand to every local government area in the State, involving local community stakeholders.