The Building Blocks for Peace Foundation hosted the maiden edition of the Nigeria Youth for Peace Forum and Awards on the 6th of December 2018 at the American Corner, Ibadan. The highly successful event was designed to commemorate the 3rd anniversary of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security. With the auspicious theme – United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250: Designing a Road Map for National Implementation in Nigeria, the Nigeria Youth for Peace Award was the result of a rigorous screening process of the most outstanding youth organisations in Nigeria for the year 2018. The guidelines for choosing the finalists included evidence of substantial impact in the Nigerian society, Nigerian nationality and an age bracket of 18-35.
In attendance at the Nigeria Youth for Peace Award were members of the board of Building Blocks for Peace Foundation led by the chairman, Dr Willie Eselebor, dozens of local and international civil society organisations including the West African Network for Peace-Building (WANEP), Centre for Development and Democracy, Change Alliance Initiative, Freedom for Information Network, African Students for Liberty amongst others, students, professionals and members of the press.
Dr Winjobi, the Chairman of the occasion in his opening remarks acknowledged the important role youths had to play in driving the actualization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). According to him, the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) were not completely successful due to the lack of active involvement of youths in the implementation.
The Executive Director of the Building Blocks for Peace Foundation, Mr Rafiu Adeniran Lawal lamented the fact that the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 had not been domesticated in Nigeria. Youth organizations like the Building Blocks for Peace foundation thus lacked the necessary support from the public and private sectors of the Nigerian society.
A youth panel with eminent youth peace-builders was convened to discuss The Role of Youths in Peace-Building. The panelists made insightful revelations concerning the fact that youths are often the agents of violence especially in the period of elections. They lamented that youths were easily swayed by the political class for their divisive ends. They proffered solutions including putting peace-building content where it could be found such as social media and intensive peace education. They encouraged youths to participate in politics in the right way. The Not Too Young to Run bill was acknowledged by the panelists as a step in the right direction. However, it was determined that youths had to develop themselves to be able to offer credible leadership different from what is currently obtainable. The panelists agreed that the role of mentors was invaluable to breeding youths with the capacity to positively affect society. The SDGs require broad support and cooperation among youth organizations to be achieved.
The National Coordinator of the West African Network for Peace-Building (WANEP) Mrs Bridget Osakwe ably represented by Mrs Vivian gave an inspiring keynote address on the theme- United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250: Designing a Road Map for National Implementation in Nigeria. She noted that the current climate in Nigeria was devoid of peace with the presence of extremist groups such as Boko Haram in the North alongside the Farmers-Herders clash and the Biafra agitations in the south. According to her, over 50,000 Nigerians have been casualties of over 4,000 violent incidents amounting to 40% of all deaths in the country since 2008. She praised the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 for identifying the linkage between youths and the global peace agenda. She identified the dual roles of youths both as the perpetrators of conflict and the victims as refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). Mrs Osakwe urged the Nigerian government to borrow a leaf from the adaptation of the UNSCR 1325 on women to domesticate the UNSCR 2250. It should be done through implementation at local, state and national levels, intense awareness-creation, media engagement and appropriate funding for youth-led organizations working in the realm of peacebuilding such as the Building Blocks for Peace Foundation. She praised the Foundation for the organizing of the maiden Nigeria Youth for Peace Award and charged other youths to follow suit and work for the peace and progress of Nigeria.
The Director of Research, Building Blocks for Peace Foundation, Mr Allwell Akhigbe noted that the reason for the convening of the Nigeria Youth for Peace Award was to inspire youths to promote peace in their societies by proactively taking on peace-building projects. The Award was conceived to be an annual event that would celebrate the important role of peace-builders in creating the Nigeria that we want.
The Nigeria Youth for Peace Award was presented to Olasupo Abideen, the founder of Brain Builders International for the remarkable work of his organization in creating peace in the society. The award was presented to him by Dr Winjobi, the chairman of the occasion.
The vote of thanks was given by the coordinator of American Corner who thanked the esteemed guests for their commitment to attend the august occasion and restated the support of the American Corner, Ibadan for the work and values of the Building Blocks for Peace Foundation.
Director for Research,
Building Blocks for Peace Foundation.