On Thursday, 6th April, a delegation consisting of representatives from The British Council and the British Parliament visited Port Harcourt to observe some peacebuilding initiatives supported by the UK government, through the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP). Amongst them was Ms. Sarah Champion, the Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities; and Ms. Connie Price, Director of the British Council in Nigeria. One of the stops the team made was to interact with stakeholders and beneficiaries of the Port Harcourt Peace Club in Marine Base.
The British Government through NSRP partners with Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) to run out-of-school Peace Clubs to promote young people’s participation in the peace and stability of their communities. You would be astonished by the way young people spoke passionately about their desire for peace in their communities.
One teenage member of the club, Promise Joseph, while recounting his experience in the club said he’d learned conflict resolution skills and now enjoys relative peace in his community, with the application of the knowledge acquired from the club. Another member who introduced herself as Esther noted that there is a reduction of social vices such as rape in her community, because of the impact of the club.
During the conversation with the Peace Club beneficiaries in Marine Base, Ms Champion went on to stress the fact that women and girls have just as much right and abilities as men and boys. When I asked her what she thought about Nigeria’s President saying his wife belongs to the kitchen, living room and the other room, she said she’s “not familiar with the instance”, but she believes every woman has the right to choose for themselves what they want to be. If they want to be a successful housewife, that’s fine.
Hearing these young people give instances of their contributions to peace and security in Marine Base, I remembered a conversation I had with an acquaintance last week Friday, about his visit to Port Harcourt Prison. According to him, there is an influx of youths mainly from Gokana Local Government Area into the prison as a result of ongoing communal crisis in some communities within the LGA. As I left the Marine Base, I could not help but wonder the impact having a peace club in each community across the LGA and maybe state will make to bring about peace and enhance security.
Do you think young people in Rivers state have what it takes to contribute to peace in the state? If we do, how can we go about taking action?