By Idowu Usman Abiodun
Nigeria is known for its democratic system that gives to all its citizens both religious and political equality in other to ensure peace and harmony in the nation. Although Nigerians live in harmony with each other, the peace of the nation as a whole is disrupted due to different political, economic, religious and social factors.
Terrorist attacks, religious violence, inflation, political motives or menace, unemployment, poverty and as well communal riots are factors hampering the peaceful living of people in Nigeria. All these issues has led to disturbance of people’s life and also causing discontent in the society. Kaduna riots (23 may, 2000) at Kaduna, Miss Muhammad cartoons crisis (18 February 2006) at Maiduguri, Yelwa massacre (February to May 2004) at Yelwa Schendam and Kano, Yobe State school shooting (6 July, 2013) at Mamudo secondary school, killing of Biafran protesters (2015 till date) at Onitsha and Aba, are instances where the peace and harmony of this great nation was compromised leading to the killing of considerable number of lives.
It is interesting to know that peace has been a very important factor responsible for the smooth functioning of any society. That is to say any nation that does not enjoy peace and harmony would not be able to prosper. Nigeria’s secularism has been a way of promoting peace in the country. People from different religion background exult each other’s company and celebrate all festivals with equal enthusiasm. Despite this and dialogues staged amidst individuals and groups for the achievement of peace in the country, there exists some kind of factors disturbing peace, why because these system of maintaining peace does not seems sustainable.
However, Islam attaches a great importance to promoting peace as the root name of the religion itself implies peace, that is "Salam". The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: "Establishing peace between two opposing parties is better than praying and fasting for the entire year" (Bukhari).
The aforementioned statement made it known to us that promoting and establishing peace is one of the obligatory acts of the religion of Islam which must be enacted with the proper and necessary conditions. What then are ways to foster sustainable peace in Nigeria?
The first way to foster sustainable peace in Nigeria is for every citizen to find inner peace within themselves. If the main source of violence is a stressful thought in the mind, then silence in the mind should be a way out of the situation. We all need to cleanse our system of stress everyday as we need to shower, eat and exercise on a daily basis. Research shows that there is a destructive link between stress and abnormality, so a session of meditation will actually improve one’s productivity and efficiency. Been happy when there are reasons to be miserable is a way of achieving peace of mind where the state of mind is partitioned to tap into inner reservoir of joy. As Mother Teressa once said, “peace begins with a smile” also prove that unconditional happiness takes someone a step closer to establishing and maintaining cordial ties.When you show your happiness towards others by smiling, the happiness extends not only to friends but to friends’ friends. Since society is made up of individuals, thus individual daily investment in creating a stress-free mind is extremely important in creating a peaceful society.
Promotion of cooperation and mutual understanding among the youths is another way of fostering sustainable peace and dialogue in Nigeria. Youth must be empowered and encouraged to appeal to the nation leader to create sustainable peaceful nation. Since the youths are the most innovative and principled part of the society, and every youth have different knowledge and capabilities, they should however be united in responsible actions to initiate practical activities in solution building and decision making. Concerns must be shown to the worsen status of Nigerian youths who face growing levels of unemployment, poverty, functional illiteracy and other social, economic and political challenges. The youth must be empowered and encouraged to have interest and understand the nation surrounding and cultures, and as well to form an attitude of national harmony and cooperation. Some of the ways the youth might be engaged include: enhancing their peace-building knowledge and skills through conferences and seminar, building trusts between them and government and supporting youths who are contributing to their communities positively.
Also, a measure of constructive engagement is required between civil society and governments. The civil society must engage with the government in a very productive way. The paradigm must be changed and a new way of engaging with official bodies should be found. An intermediary resource centre should be provided between the civil society and the government to provide technical assistance to them. Effective advocacy skills should be acquired to provide alternate ways of getting and retaining attention with a compelling message and building and retaining relationship with policy makers in contrast to challenging governments, throwing stone at them and expecting that alone to produce results.
Making resources available to develop infrastructures of our great country thereby creating employment opportunities is a responsibility of the government and every citizen, and there is no better way to do this than fostering sustainable peace in the nation.