-Blank NEWS Online (NIGERIA) – From Michael EKOKORUWE:
In continuation of the peace advocacy to actualize the vision of a stronger Delta, the Special Adviser to Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, governor of Delta State on peace building and conflict resolution, Chief Edwin Uzor JP, has reiterated government commitment to the security of lives and sustaining enduring peace towards the development of Isoko North local government area of Delta State.
Chief Uzor gave the hint at Opute Hall Ozoro, Isoko North local government area, during the peace advocacy workshop for communities in Isoko North. He urged the people to give the state government enabling peaceful environment for development, as the country is going through reforms that will bring positive changes.
Uzor stated that the changes will not happen overnight even as occasionally, there could be frustration, disappointments, or criticisms that could lead to escalation of tension, but peace should remain as our ultimate goal. He added that without peace there will be no development just as the life of many people will be turned into a dream.
The special adviser called on the people to stop fighting and killing themselves which according to him cannot provide the required solution to inter – personal or inter communal crisis currently posing challenges across the state and nation at large. He urged the people to spread the message of peace, noting that “we can support and contribute to lasting peace in Isoko Nation”.
On his part, the Chairman of Isoko North, Hon. Emmanuel Egbabor said, the spirit of give and take is required in the process of negotiations, adding that where there is no understanding and tolerance, the outcome is breakdown of peace and security.
Egbabor maintained that the causes of violence and conflict in the local government are “disagreement over ownership of land, dispute over boundary, traditional ruler’s inheritance, election results, crises over communities elections, youth matters, rivalry within and among cult groups, crises from oil bunkering activities and entitlements from oil companies”.
Egbabor stated that “resolving issues that would have caused mayhem to save lives is cheaper than to allow the crises degenerate into war”. He urged the people to be involved in strategies that can prevent intra – communal and inter – communal crises and foster a more cohesive community- people relationship.
Other speakers during the peace advocacy workshop were Dr. David Idoge, Dr. Akpotu Chris, and Ambassador Caroline Usikpedo. They emphasized on major aspects of the culture of peace and non – violence to include, human rights, democracy, tolerance, promotion of development, education for peace, the free flow of information and wider participation of women and youths.
The speakers maintained that, there cannot be true peace unless the mind is at peace, adding that setting a new agenda for sustainable peace in Isoko Nation requires tolerance, solidarity and dialogue to settle differences. They cautioned that Isoko has experienced enough violence and cannot afford more, emphasizing that “the time to act is now”.
In separate speeches, the Majority Leader Delta State House of Assembly, Hon Tim Owhefere, the Director General, Warri / Uwie Development Agency, Comrade Ovuozorie Macaulay, the President General Isoko Development Union, High Chief Iduh Amadhe and the Commissioner for Transport Delta State, .Ovie Oghoore, urged the people to sustain the culture of peace through equity, fairness and justice.
They appealed to community leaders to cooperate with members of various communities with patience and understanding in building peace and to resolve conflicts, noting that fighting and confrontation should not be an option to settle conflict. They urged the people to use dialogue and negotiations to resolve crises, emphasizing that “we are one as Isoko people”.
In attendance were traditional rulers, president’s general, political appointees from Isoko North and South, some executive members of Isoko Development Union and a cross section of women, youths and notable leaders from Isoko North local government area of Delta State.