The era of democratic rule in Nigeria has witnessed wide-ranging ethno-religious and communal strife, which has led to destruction of lives and properties. It has also generated apprehension, making Nigerians very choosy of areas they lived in for the fear of being unnecessarily attacked by perceived enemies.
Ethno-religious strife and unhealthy animosity has been the bane of modern day Nigeria, and this has unfortunately led Nigerians to survive with their neighbours, under suspicious social atmosphere that could mildly be described as “cat and mouse life.”
Disturbed by this unhealthy phenomenon, the Katsina State government recently, constituted a peace committee saddled with the responsibility of preaching peace and harmonious coexistence among the diverse residents in the state, through a state-wide peace tour of local government areas in the state.
The constituted committee, headed by the state commissioner for information, home affairs and culture, Alhaji Gide Sani Batagarawa, has as members, the general managers of state television and radio stations, Abdulaziz Danyari and Salisu Bakori respectively, and the senior special assistant to the governor on diplomacy and society relations, Sada Rumah.
Essentially, the task of the committee was to meet with diverse residents of the state in each of the 34 local governments, and deliberate on the need for peaceful coexistence as a necessary climate for enhancing development. The peace tour has met with leadership of various groups and associations, as well as leadership of different ethno-religious groups residing in the state, where assurances of government’s earnest commitment to ensure peace were offered.
A Senior Special Assistant to the governor, Sada Rumah, whose office was said to have initiated the peace tour, stated that the idea behind the peace initiative was to reaffirm the state government’s commitment in supporting peaceful coexistence between the indigenes of the state and residents of other ethno-religious inclination, by providing guaranteed security to lives and properties for all.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP on the new peace initiative, Sada Rumah believed that, “the support and enthusiasm demonstrated by the association of indigenous Nigerians in most of the local government visited during the peace mission tour, was an indication that both the indigenes and residents from other areas, have also been yearning for peaceful coexistence among not only members of the association but all well meaning Nigerians”.
According to him, “We must appreciate the fact that we need each other; and particularly so because we need to live with one another as brothers and sisters to facilitate a sustained peace and progress needed by all.”
He said this “was what informed the decision of the Katsina State government to initiate the peace tour to indicate government’s determination toward supporting any efforts designed to cultivate and midwife such initiatives at ensuring lasting peace.”
The senior special assistant further declared that, the state government was committed to providing level playing ground to all citizens irrespective of where they may come from, based on conviction that ‘every Nigerian is a stakeholder in wherever one chooses to reside, and must be given the sense of belonging.
According to Sada, “Dangerous rumours have often been instrumental to generating unjustified panic among the people explaining that in view of this, we consider it expedient to initiate the peace mission to dispel the unhealthy rumours, while at the same time, restating the need for peaceful coexistence with one another so that a realistic socio-economic development could be strongly enhanced.”
Commenting on the relevance of the peace tour, Mr.Boniface Damina of the Association of Indigenous Nigerians Resident in Katsina State, said it was an initiative worthy of emulation because it has strengthened our confidence on the ability of the state government to safeguard the security of lives and properties.
Alfred Terna, 56, is a Tiv man from Benue state who spent over 30 years in Katsina state, as a place he first visited for holidaying after leaving school in Benue state.
He told LEADERSHIP that he had an intention to return to his home state following the last year’s post election violence, ‘but the timely intervention through the state peace initiative tour has given him a renewed courage and confidence to remain in Katsina, explaining further that the development has provided a guaranteed succour and comfortable climate where the security of his life and property would be safe.
He said the tour had further encouraged him in particular, and other Nigerians residing in the state “to continually see Katsina as our second home, and a place where we can stay and do our business without any fear of insecurity.”
Observers said that the decision by the state government to accord needed priority to security of lives and properties, reinforced by its ‘non discriminatory’ policy, which guaranteed every Nigerian an access to free education, regardless of where one may come from, ‘is worthy of emulation by other states across the nation.