Nigeria to share lessons from ‘One Family under God’ grassroots campaign
Nigerian leaders will share lessons in opening channels of dialogue, mediating conflict, and establishing community-based peace accords in conflict regions at a convening of leaders in Kampala, Uganda of August 1-2, 2018.
The Global Peace Leadership Conference: East Africa-Great Lakes Region is a two-day strategic summit for educators, business leaders, clerics, and parliamentarians to explore regional peace and security issues and discuss innovative approaches that will build social cohesion, advance excellence in education, improve economic opportunity, increase youth productivity, support women’s empowerment, and address critical community development needs.
The conference is hosted by Honorary Chair Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda, and co-convened by the Republic of Uganda, the Global Peace Foundation, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the Inter-religious Council of Uganda and the Private Sector Foundation Uganda.
Guided by shared vision, regional leaders will explore issues of security, economic development, education, family integrity, and leadership at all levels of society, in the context of East Africa’s diverse political and social conditions.
The One Family Under God (OFUG) campaign, a project of Global Peace Foundation Nigeria now in its fifth year, will be highlighted at the conference. The campaign engages religious and spiritual leaders and civil society partners to counter violent extremism and foster community-level social cohesion through partnerships and grassroots programs that stress universal principles and shared values. The campaign is engaging Muslim and Christian leaders and traditional rulers to reconcile religious and ethnic divisions by drawing on the respect and authority of faith leaders to uphold values deeply embedded in faith traditions.
“To quote Albert Camus, ‘Peace is the only battle worth waging,’ said Global Peace Foundation Nigeria’s patron and former Second Lady H.E. Hajiya Amina Namadi Sambo. “Since the world has become a global village we need a common goal, where universal aspirations, principles and values come together. We can build social cohesion through the family, community and the positive use of cultural and faith values.”
The One Family under God Campaign drew on lessons and inspirations from the Nigerian Interfaith Action Association (NIFAA). NIFAA collaborated with both Muslim and Christian faith leaders and traditional rulers to utilize the basic social infrastructures of the various faith communities educate their constituents on practical ways to prevent malaria. Executive Director of Nigerian Interfaith Action Association (NIFAA), Bishop Dr. Sunday N. Onuoha, acted as a special advisor to GPF in its earliest efforts and continues to bring much needed attention to critical issues between faith and tribal communities and how they might be resolved. He noted, “In Nigeria, there are equal numbers of Christians and Muslims.
“We can utilize this to be a positive asset for the country by enjoining them to work for the good of all people. The One Family Under God Campaign in Nigeria has brought much hope in response to the pain and suffering experienced most recently by those in Southern Kaduna. Our prayer is that this work can continue well on into the future.”
In 2016 conflict between predominantly Muslim Fulani herdsmen and predominantly Christian indigenous farmers in Southern Kaduna flared, costing the lives of hundreds and disrupting the lives of thousands. The One Family under God campaign addressed the crisis through coordinated mediation talks among leaders from both sides. In Kaninkon Chiefdom, leaders from seven native districts and the Fulani district finally agreed to end hostilities in a meeting held on June 6, while encouraging critical stakeholders who reside outside the chiefdom to honor the development.
Following trainings in other Kaduna communities, neighbors are less apprehensive of each other, multi-religious schools have reopened, co-workers from Muslim and Christian backgrounds are starting to travel to work together and former residents are being encouraged to resettle in Kaduna.
Central to the work in Kaduna has been Rev. Joseph Hayab, formerly the Special Adviser on Religious Affairs (Christian Matters) to the Executive Governor of Kaduna State and Sheik Halliru Abdullahi Maraya formerly the Special Adviser on Islamic and Hajj Matters to the Executive Governor of Kaduna State. The “Kaduna twins” as the clerics are affectionately called, have been co-facilitators for the One Family Under God campaign and will present their interfaith efforts to bridge divides and foster peace in Nigeria at the Global Peace Leadership Conference in Uganda.
“We chose to use our God-given position to influence our community for good,” said Rev. Hayab. “Saying negative things about Christians or Muslims is not an education; it is an incitement. How can you win people when you don’t respect them – when you don’t trust, tolerate and appreciate them?”
“From the Islamic point of view, as found in the Quran, there is no basis to dishonor him or her on basis of some racial, religious or tribal identification,” agreed Sheik Maraya. “As a Muslim you are enjoined to be kind and just to all regardless of any difference, particularly religious difference.”
“Though Nigeria faced many challenges, it had certain very powerful resources, found most especially in the deeply rooted faith of its people, already noted for being one of the most religious peoples in the world,” reflected John Oko, the Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Nigeria Country Director. It was in the challenge of unlocking this potential into a force for positive social transformation that GPF’s partnerships became essential. For this and many other such reasons, the Global Peace Leadership Conference played an important role in providing the values-based platform, bringing together a wide, multi-sector network of people and organizations to work for the cause of peace and development.”
Nigeria will proudly feature H.E. Hajiya Amina Namadi Sambo, Bishop Dr. Sunday N. Onuoha, Rev. Joseph Hayab, Sheik Halliru Abdullahi Maraya, and Mr. John Oko at the East African – Great Lakes Region Global Peace Leadership Conference, August 1-2, 2018 in Kampala, Uganda.