A COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF A 2-DAY NATIONAL YOUTH DIALOGUE ON PEACE AND SECURITY THEMED ‘STRENGTHENING CAPACITIES OF NIGERIAN YOUTH FOR PEACE THROUGH INTERCULTURAL DIALOGUE AND ADVOCACY FOR THE YOUTH, PEACE AND SECURITY AGENDA”, HELD AT DENIS HOTEL, N’DJAMENA CRESCENT, WUSE, ABUJA, NIGERIA
- We, young people from across Nigeria gathered here in Abuja on 12th – 13th August 2021 at the National Youth Dialogue on Peace and Security organised by the Building Blocks for Peace Foundation in collaboration with the African Union (Youth for Peace Program), the National Orientation Agency, and the CLEEN Foundation express our commitment to the unity, stability and peaceful coexistence of Nigeria.
- This dialogue, which was held on the occasion of the 2021 International Youth Day, brought together over 100 young people drawn from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds to foster open communication and ignite intercultural learning among Nigerian youths. The event aimed at strengthening the capacities and building competencies of young people for peace advocacy, conflict transformation, tolerance, and to amplify the need for intergenerational and intercultural dialogue for peace and security.
- Participants at the dialogue included a traditional ruler, youth groups and activists, security agencies, civil society organisations, women associations, media, academics, farmers associations, people living with disabilities, and representatives from relevant ministries of government, multilateral institutions, INGO among others.
- As young people, we recognize that the state of peace and security in Nigeria is becoming very worrisome as the country attempts to deal with several security threats including cases of identity, ethnic and religious-based conflicts which has resulted in the death of hundreds of lives and continue to pose a huge threat to social cohesion, sustainable peace, and stability in the country.
- We note that some of the root causes of the ethno-religious conflicts in Nigeria are: perception of marginalization, nepotism, politicization of ethnicity, the loss of value system, corruption, quest for resource control, poor governance, ethnic stereotyping, misconceived religious teachings, misinformation and fake news, unemployment, misapplication of religious teachings, open grazing, ethnocentrism, poverty, intolerance, human rights violations amongst others.
- As youth, we note that violent conflicts have several negative implications on our lives, aspirations and development trajectory. These impacts include forced migration and displacement, insecurity, destruction of public infrastructure, loss of income, human rights abuses, increased poverty, high rates of social crime, loss of lives and properties, increased radicalization of young people, unemployment among others.
- As participants, we recognize the involvement of a few youth in the ongoing conflicts across the country. However, this dialogue reaffirmed that majority of youth are peaceful and encourage all stakeholders to acknowledge and support the positive role of young people to peacebuilding and security across the country as postulated in the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 (2015) and the African Union Continental Framework on Youth, Peace and Security (2020).
- We assert that as young people, we will continue to work together towards preventing ethno-religious crisis and also leverage our cultural diversity for peacebuilding and national integration in various ways such as peer to peer engagement, organizing capacity building workshops and training; advocacy and sensitization through social media; collaboration between and among religious and cultural groups; promoting dialogue at all levels; creation of a youth inter-ethnic forum; raising awareness on peacebuilding and national integration.
- We resolve that young people should be supported in their efforts towards strengthening positive inter-cultural relations in Nigeria through capacity building; advocacy and mentorship; town hall meeting and intergenerational dialogue; engagement of youths as peace ambassadors; formulation and implementation of realistic youth policy; funding for youth-led projects; educating young people on the value of diversity; media education, sensitization, and enlightenment; effective implementation of youth policies, etc.
- In line with the observations made during the two days deliberations, we therefore call on governmental and non-governmental organisations, civil society organisations, religious and traditional leaders, youth focused and youth-led networks, media, multilateral organisations and other relevant stakeholders to partner with young people towards the implementation of the following action points:
a. Creating a conducive environment for youth to contribute their intellectual capacity towards societal development
b. Effective implementation of state and national policies to support young people
c. Religious leaders should structure their teachings towards building social cohesion and stability
d. Traditional leaders should ensure justice within their domain
e. NGOs should intensify awareness towards active youth participation in political processes
f. There is need for accountability and transparency in governance
g. Meaningful involvement of young people in policy formulation and implementation
h. Open government partnership
i. The need for value re-orientation and mentorship
j. Access to funding for youth-led projects
k. Empower youth networks and coalitions on peace and security
l. Immediate adoption of the draft National Action Plan on United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security and implementation of the AU Continental framework on Youth, Peace and Security.
- We, the participants at the 2-day dialogue, believe strongly that our diversity is our pride and living in peace should be above all. We therefore express our commitment to work together to build a culture of peace, amidst our various ethno-religious and cultural diversities. With this communique, we commit ourselves to fostering intercultural dialogue and relations across communities in Nigeria and also call on all Nigerian youth to contribute to transforming conflicts, countering violent extremism, and building sustainable peace.