The communities of Irigwe and Fulani of Miango chiefdom in Bassa Local Government Area have made a resolve for peaceful coexistence through the signing of an expression of commitment to Peace as part of facilitated dialogue aimed at transforming the long-standing conflict between them to guarantee sustainable peace.
The symbolic signing of the expression of commitment to Peace which was facilitated by the Plateau Peace Building Agency and presided by the Plateau State Governor, Simon Bako Lalong was held at Jebu Bassa, Bassa Local Government Area on Wednesday, 13th July 2020.
Governor Simon Bako Lalong of Plateau State while making his remark at the symbolic signing of the expression of commitment to Peace, said he was optimistic that this was the end to violence within the community, he said the two groups of brothers and sisters had co-existed peacefully for many years before this age-long relationship went soar for many reasons however he was delighted to see that they have decided to come together to address the issues with the symbolic signing of the Expression of Commitment to Peace.He noted that the gathering which is at the instance of the leadership of the Irigwe and Fulani goes to show the world that the communities had tested the bitter pills that violent conflict serves but are now willing, ready and able to chart a new course for themselves by first forgiving the past in order to reconcile the future.“You will recall that when we came into office in 2015, our administration inherited a crisis situation in the State as far as Peace and security were concerned. Notwithstanding, we were not deterred by what we found on the ground. We were determined from the onset to confront these challenges head-on, knowing fully well that the success of our administration would be determined largely by the efforts to restore Peace and stability.”“We immediately developed a policy framework to guide our response to the growing challenges of crises and insecurity and in a way that enables us to move away from the reactive approach to being proactive.” With the help of the Plateau State Peace Building Agency, the Plateau State Interreligious Council, Security Agencies and various other non-state actors, we set to ensure that we break the cycle of ethno-religious crisis which had persisted for decades and affected the economic, social and even psychological aspects of our people.“Although we are yet to return to a state of what many may be described as absolute peace, we are proud to note that there is a general decline in the spate of ethno-religious crises and violent attacks far lower than the scale witnessed before we came into office. Today’s event which is the symbolic signing of a Peace Document by the Irigwe and Fulani speaks volumes about the efficacy of our approach in managing and transforming potentially dangerous conflict situations in our state”.Lalong said that the nearly two-decade experience of violent conflict between Irigwe and Fulani of Irigwe Chiefdom has given my administration sleepless nights. Yet, we never for once relented in our effort and desire to expand the frontiers of Peace and security in those communities in particular and, the entire Bassa Local Government Area in general”.“At the peak of the crisis sometimes in August last year, you may recall I met twice and separately so with the leadership of Irigwe and Fulani in my official residence with a view to broker Peace and reconciliation between them. After that, I had another meeting with both parties alongside other critical stakeholders from other neighboring LGAs in our bid to put to an end the perennial conflicts in the Bassa Local Government Area”.“My personal involvement in the mediation of this conflict was hinged on the ongoing interventions of both the Plateau State Peace building Agency and the State Inter-Religious Council who have worked closely with other stakeholders, including external actors to bring peace and stability in communities ravaged by internecine conflict.”“Series of multi-level and multilayered engagements with community elders, youth and women leaders of Irigwe and Fulani were held and facilitated by the Peace Building Agency often in close collaboration with local NGO’s and international partners to whom we owe a great deal of gratitude for their consistent support and investment in Peace.”“In addition, several dialogue sessions, capacity-building training, consultations and Peace advocacy went into the process with the leadership of ethnic associations like the Irigwe Development Association (IDA); the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), the All Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (AFAN); the Gan Allah Fulani Association of Nigeria (GAFDAN) amongst so many others”. Governor Lalong further stated.
The Director General Plateau Peace Building Agency, Mr. Joseph Lengman said the commitment to Peace was a result of the resolve made by both communities to move ahead and forge ahead regardless of what the community has gone through.
He noted that the signing of the expression of commitment to Peace by both communities was symbolic as it has been a long time coming and the Agency was full of appreciation to the Plateau State Government for the commitment and tenacity towards ensuring that the state has peace.
“Without peace it is practically impossible for us to achieve our individual and collective goals, we must also thank the plateau state inter-religious council, security agencies and the committee set in place for facilitating this process as they have worked even in difficult moments and setbacks, standing firm to ensure that the process gets the desired response.” Lengman said.
HRH, Bra Ngwe Irigwe, Rt Rev Ronku Aka, the paramount ruler of Irigwe nation in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State, stated that despite being delighted with the resolve that has brought about the expression of commitment to the Peace document, however, warned that measures should’ve taken to ensure that there is strict adherence to the commitment as any breach must be meet by the law.The attendance at the epic event had a robust attendance, drawn from members of the state executive council, Speaker and Members of the Plateau state House of Assembly, Heads of Security Agencies, Members of the state interreligious council, religious and traditional leaders, civil society organizations, the Plateau State Peace Building Agency, representative of the Kaduna State Peace Commission, representatives of the united states institute for peace, various community leaders and members, women and youth organizations with a couple of them commending the initiative of the signage of the “expression of commitment to Peace’ and calling of the sustenance of peace within Bassa and in Plateau state.