John Shiklam in Kaduna
The Kaduna State Peace Commission has calledÂ for the support of the media to assist it in achieving its mandate of peace building.
Speaking during a consultative forum with the media on Monday in Kaduna, the executive vice-chairperson of the commission, Mrs Priscilla Ankut, said the media is a critical stakeholder in the quest for peace.
She noted that the media had been reporting conflict situations in the state for the past three decades and as such, journalists are in a better position to contribute positively towards peace building in the state.
According to her, the commission is rolling out a five-year strategic plan towards ensuring a lasting peace in Kaduna State, stressing that the role of the media in this direction is very crucial.
Ankut said: “The media is very strategic in helping the commission achieve its mandate, because what the media reports can either help in resolving the conflict or fuelling it.
“We, therefore, want the media to not only help us in reporting our activities and enlightening the public on the need for peace, but also help us generate ideas on ways to go about meeting our mandates.”
She said the commission was established six months ago, to promote peace, harmonious coexistence, conflict resolution and promote peace building.
She added that since the establishment of the commission, it had met with various stakeholders to discuss the way forward for achieving a lasting peace in the state.
She noted that some structural causes of conflict include competition over land and water use, indigene settler dichotomy, religious and ethnic divide, suspicion and mistrust among others.
Ankut stressed that the commission needs the media to change the narrative about conflict in the state by gravitating towards reports that help in restoring and maintaining harmonious coexistence.
Also speaking, a permanent commissioner in the commission, Dr. Saleh Momale, noted that although conflicts are part of the dynamics of any society, he however said conflicts can be prevented from escalating into violence when people come to a roundtable to discuss.
He called on people of the state to see the commission as an institution established to promote peace.
Participants at the consultative forum however advised the commission to assert its independence from the state to build the needed confidence in the people.
They also called on the commission to address the structural injustice that continues to divide the people as well as address the issue of hate speeches coming from highly-placed political office holders in the state.
The participants further called on the commission to consistently engage religious and community leaders, politicians, and all other relevant stakeholders crucial in the peace building process, as that is the best way to get the people involved in the process of peace building.