By Gladys Nweke
An international non-governmental organization known as Search For Common Ground (SFCG) has trained some stakeholders in Rivers State on international best practices in peace building across the Niger Delta Region.
The 3-day security summit with the theme, Transformative Dialogue Training and Peace Architecture Dialogue, had participants drawn from the nation’s Police Force, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Department of State Services, Civil Defence Corps, Media, traditional institutions, advocacy, groups among others.
Speaking with newsmen, Search for Common Ground Head Office, Niger Delta, Mr Borve Paago, said, “The meeting was to build the capacity of communities and all stakeholders in the state on how to champion peace with the use of international best conflict resolution mechanism.”
Mr Paago said, “What we are doing is very essential because as you can see, from what is happening now in the Niger Delta, there has been lots of conflict issues here and there.
”All these conflict issues are as a result of institutional failure. So people are now getting back on governments to prompt them to be proactive at least to take corrective measures where things have actually gone wrong.
”So, you can not under right or over right the essence of holding this high level meeting as it ignites again the consciousness in those who are vested with the responsibility of addressing these issues to bring them to the barest minimum as well as to deescalate conflicts. Create a cohesive society and allow collective inputs into cooperative dialogue process that helps advocate for a better society.”
On his part, the Public Relations Officer, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Rivers State Command, Mr Emmanuel Ogbumgbada, expressed satisfaction with the training, adding that the knowledge he had acquired would help his Command to reduce illicit drug trafficking and abuse in the state.
”I think it is very important to have a forum like this to continue so that a lot of people will learn the tricks in fostering peace in our society and that will help to eliminate conflicts and violence.
”Drug abuse is a very serious issue and it has a very serious effect on the individual first and then the society. When somebody abuses drug and then it becomes a habit, firstly, his or her health will begin to deteriorate which could lead to death if it is not salvaged early.
”Secondly, as his health is being affected, his behaviour is also affected such that it will affect the immediate family, the community and the society at large.
”So, drug abuse has two strong effect on the society: (1) Effect on the individual abusing the drug and (2) Effect on the society as a result of the behaviour of the individual and in return affects the economy of the society.
Also, the Deputy National Secretary, Pan Niger Delta Forum, Hon. Ken Robinson used the summit to appreciate SFCG while noting that what the participants have learnt from the training was highly rewarding.
To Hon Robinson, “The two days training on conflict management, analysis, active listening and understanding the commonalities of stakeholders in conflict were very rewarding. A lot of knowledge has been gained and relationships have been created too.
”This kind of session is necessary because it fosters unity. It is proper that we understand specific tools to use in engaging with stakeholders
at all levels. I must commend Search For Common Ground for the initiative. We give SFCG kudos for what they are doing by increasing the capacity of persons involved in peace building and conflict resolution in the Niger Delta.
”This training has reawakened our consciousness to always see ourselves as human beings created by one God and that is our basic commonality, Therefore, we should have respect for human dignity. So when we have this understanding, we will be on a better platform to resolve our differences.”