The Role of Nasarawa State Youths in Peace and Alternative Disputes Resolution by Ibrahim Kabiru Dallah.
“I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.” (Dwight D. Eisenhower).
Alternative Dispute Resolution is an increasingly popular complement to official legal channels to resolve less serious disputes in a timely manner through mediation while enhancing claimants’ sense of justice.
It is so disheartened that the future of the Nigerian youth in Nasarawa State has been hijacked by the elite. However, the political elite are the major culprit in this, there seems to be a conspiratorial collaboration between it and other sectors of the elite. This, they have done by not creating the enabling environment for the youth to realize their full potentials through good governance. By not ensuring transparency and accountability in governance, but rather perpetrating corruption, mismanagement and misallocation of resources, the elite in the Government of the day have disempowered the youth, and have reduced them to what I call ‘glorified beggars’ a case study of one faction of the Nasarawa State Students Association (NASSA) National body.
The elites prefer to recruit the youth as political thugs, to use them during elections to intimidate their opponents and rig elections, rather than empower them, and build their capacity for future challenges. In the developed world, greater emphasis is laid on developing functional institutions and giving the youth a sound education by both government and and other stakeholders. Manpower development is at the base of any society’s progress and not resources as we tend to think in Nasarawa State.
It is a well-focused and intellectually sound and skilled manpower that can efficiently harness the resources of any society to realize the goals of development, which will ultimately result to a peaceful society. No wonder, they are where they are today. For us, in what I call the ‘de-developed’ State, the priorities of many of our leaders are rather on self-aggrandizement, once they assume political office. Today, it seems most of the present crop of political leaders in Nasarawa State don’t believe in the youth. They seem to think that empowering the Nasarawa State youth is a wasteful venture, or even a mistake, no wonder; education is not given the much-needed attention it deserves. Within this context, the youths are at the receiving end, as they are left without qualitative education and therefore, disempowered for life. This underscores the reason why they are increasingly frustrated, and become violent at the slightest provocation.
This piece will not be fair to the Nigerian youth in Nasarawa State if it stops at portraying them as a violent set of people, or better still, easy recruits for violence, without focusing on their potential role in providing peace and possible resolution in the state. Youths, just as they are very active in perpetrating violence, can equally be effective instruments of peace and alternative disputes resolution in any society. Viewing youths as agents of peace challenges the traditional conception of youths as agents of violence.
How can youths be effective agents of peace and alternative disputes resolution?
To start with, for the fact that virtually all our schools are dominated by youths, the school therefore, can serve as a breeding ground for both war and peace. When peace virtues are inculcated in the youth, they will certainly grow up to be peaceful in the society.
Again, youths can utilize the opportunity provided by a democratic system to build peace in the society. In this regard, associational life can bring youths together for the purpose of peace and alternative disputes resolution, rather than violence. They can organize themselves and make their voices heard on matters that affect them, and indeed, the entire society. By this, they can influence positive action on such matters from government and other stakeholders.
To set the record straight, the opportunities provided by Social media can serve a very crucial role of mobilizing youths for peace and alternative dispute resolution in the society. The use of social media like Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Blogger such as abusidiqu.com, elombah.com, thescoopng.com, omojuwa.com, africanspotlight.com, 247nigerianewsupdates.com among others, through the internet or mobile phones can help youths spread peace messages, rather than hate messages in order to resolve the present disputes between Alago, Eggon and other tribes in the state where peace will reign permanently.
Consequent upon the forgoing, the growing trend of youth participation in violent activities in Nasarawa state, we deem it necessary to offer a number of recommendations towards curbing this negative trend.
These include the following
I. Youths should refuse to be recruited as political thugs or what i call “Students political thugs” as in the case of one faction of the Nasarawa State Students Association (NASSA) National body under the Government, knowing that it is one of the ways by which politicians have hijacked the students and youths future. They only use them to achieve their objectives at a certain moment and soon abandon them once they have achieved their objective. For instance, Governor Almakura has instructed his SA on Student matters to illegally hijacked the students structure for him, where the SA is only interested in the 5% remittance of the next payment of the scholarship that we are yet to know the fate of the Nigerian Students. LET’S SAY NO TO THEM.
ii. Government under the leadership of Alhaji Umar Tanko Almakura should lay greater emphasis on education. This is the key to achieving all other successes. We are now in the 21st Century; the period commonly referred to as the “age of digital revolution” and as a state, Nasarawa State Government cannot afford to allow its youths remain analogue.
Accordingly, more of the fiscal policy of government in Nasarawa State should be targeted at providing functional education to our youths. The Nigerian Youths in Nasarawa State should insist on being educated. Education is our right, though enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution as a fundamental objective of state directive principle. By virtue of this, youths can hold political office holders accountable for not providing them with qualitative education and social amenities.
iii. Closely related to these, there should be introduction of peace and alternative disputes resolution education as part of the curricula at all levels of education in the Nasarawa State. With intensive peace education, a culture of peace will be inculcated in youths, whom they always refer to as future leaders.
iv. Youths should organize themselves into civil associations to drive home their aspiration in a democratic context.
v.Youths should resolve to embrace peace and peaceful coexistence, for ‘when there is a will, there is always a way’. It is therefore possible for people to coexist peacefully, once they resolve to live in peace. Divisive issues will always come, but where people have resolved to live together in peace in-spite of their differences, they will seek associative, rather than dissociative ways of responding to them.
vi. The Youths should equally actively spread the virtues of peaceful coexistence among their peers, and in the society as a whole through rallies, seminars and symposia among others.
vii. The youths should always be serious with the pursuit of their education, as education remains the most effective vehicle for transiting a society to development. A situation whereby students do not pay attention to their studies, and rather involve themselves in unwholesome practices such as drug addiction, prostitution, cultism, and examination malpractices, among others, is counterproductive to the goal of achieving a functional, developed and peaceful society.
In conclusion, the Youths are very critical to the development of any society all over the world. Without a well-educated, informed and therefore, empowered youth, no society can have the needed peace and stability to fast-track development.
Most Nigerian youths today in Nasarawa State, have increasingly become perpetrators of violence, not because they are naturally violent, but mainly, due to the structural violent nature of the society within which they find themselves. We noted with alarm and utmost dismay recently in Nasarawa State House of Assembly (NSHA) where youths were hired to cause commotion, ombatse crisis among others, future of the Nigerian youth in the state has been hijacked, and unless the measures which we suggested are carried out by all stakeholders, we will only be raising a generation of militants, insurgents, drug addicts, and armed robbers, among others, whose target will be the society itself and nothing else.
“Every genearation out of their relative obscurity discover their mission to betray or fulfil” (Fartz Fanon).
Ibrahim Kabiru Dallah, President, Nasarawa State Youths Network (NASTYNET). Writes from Abuja, Nigeria, 28th November, 2013. @ik_dallah on twitter.
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