Let’s Give Peace A Chance

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Shedie Okpara

Recently, the Universal Peace Federation (UPF), an international and interreligious network of individuals and organisations, including representatives from religious, government, civil society and the private sector organised a Special General Assembly of Ambassadors for Peace to commemorate this year’s United Nations International Day of Peace. The theme of the event was “Partnership for Peace: Dignity for All”.

The UPF is dedicated to achieving world peace and has a special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. The NGO supports the work of the United Nations, particularly in the areas of interfaith peace building, peace education and the strengthening of marriage and family.

The Ambassadors for Peace are a global network of individuals who are working in several ways toward a peaceful world, launched in 2001 as the largest and most diverse network of peace leaders.

In compliance with the declaration by the United Nations in 1981 that September 21 of every year be celebrated as international Day for Peace to create awareness of the need for everyone to live in peace, the UPF held an assembly of Peace Ambassadors in Port Harcourt. The event attracted dignitaries from all walks of life and brought to the fore the minds of individuals, families, communities and nations to create an environment where people could live and breathe the air of peace.

Actually, peace is a necessity in human life and a foundation for human rights and rapid development of the society. No meaningful development or human existence can be achieved in an atmosphere of violence, crisis or acrimony.

In a goodwill message to the assembly in Port Harcourt, UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon observed that this year’s International Day of Peace came at a time of deadly violence and destabilisation all over the world. The said that rather than succumbing to despair, we have a collective responsibility to demand an end to the brutality and impunity that prevail.

His words: “I call on all warring parties to lay down their weapons and observe a global ceasefire. To them I say: stop the killings and the destruction and create space for lasting peace”. Although, he continued, it may seem hopelessly distant, the dream of peace pulses in the lives of people everywhere.

The UN scribe noted that there was no group more poised to help realise this dream than today’s young people, adding that they were part of the largest generation of youth in history, more aware and connected than any before, and urged all governments to make greater investments in realisng the potentially massive contributions of the world’s young peace builders.

He stressed the need to mobilise all partners who share the goal of peace, saying that non-governmental organisations, faith-based groups and corruptions have a role to play in fostering social progress, protecting the environment and creating a more, just, stable and peaceful world. “We live at a moment of peril but this is also an era of great promise”, he said hinting that in a matter of days, leaders from across the globe will gather at the United Nations to adopt the 2030 agenda, a 15-year plan to achieve  sustainable development.

Also speaking at the occasion, Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, remarked that women suffer most during violent conflicts and stressed the need for sustainable peace to ensure sustainable development from the family, state and nation. She acknowledged the call by the UN for a comprehensive assessment of the impact of armed conflict on women and the girl child while highlighting the role of women peace-building and gender dimensions in peace processes and conflict resolution.

The deputy governor who also advocated increase provision for women’s needs concerning peace-building and negotiations, said the state has set out an action plan such as the prevention, protection, participation, prosecution and promotion as strategic objectives for achieving peace for women and the girl child and called on all to ensure peaceful co-existence.

In his speech, the chairman of the occasion, Dr. Reason Oyah, stressed the need for us to protect our environment, pointing out that the late Ken Sarowiwa played an important role in sensitising the people on the environment. According to him, “we must protect our environment through peace since as he put, when there is peace in the environment, there will be holistic development.

Describing peace as an occurrence of harmony characterised by absence of violence, conflicts, behaviour and freedom, the co-ordinator of the event, Ambassador Prince Tonye Jeminimiema, noted that Rivers State stands out as one of the peaceful states since the assumption of office of Chief (Barrister) Ezenwo Nyesom Wike as governor. Jeminimiema observed that the present peaceful environment in the state gave way to the development so far recorded by the present administration.

He urged youths, elders, the elite to embrace peace, dialogue and mutual understanding in order to harness and fast-track all facets of development, while calling on all Nigerians to accelerate their commitment and dedication to peace in our society. We need to pay greater attention to the ideals of building a peaceful nation through good families, good citizens and good governance.

For peace to prevail, there must truth and justice, equity, love, reconciliation, forgiveness and restitution among mankind.