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Ayamelum people urged to embrace peace  

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By Emeka Chiaghanam

Towards ensuring lasting peace in all the communities in Ayamelum Local Government Area of Anambra State, the people of the area have been urged to shun violence or any act capable of sowing the seed of distrust, enmity, but embrace peace and brotherliness in the interest of all and development of the area. 

The Director-General, Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), Dr Bakut Tswah Bakut, gave the advice during the ‘’Conflict Management and Resolution in Land/Communal Dispute in Ayamelum LGA, Anambra State,’’ workshop/training organized by the IPCR in Awka for the stakeholders/communities involved in the perennial conflict ravaging the area with the aim of inculcating the culture of peace and peaceful coexistence among its communities.

Bakut affirming without peace there can never be any meaningful development stated that the IPCR did not come to the State to draw boundaries between the communities in disputes but to talk to them about peace and how they can make peace for themselves and their future generations. 

‘’We are here to give support to the local efforts being made by you, like the various peace communities to resolve the conflicts and delineate the boundaries. Nobody in your communities can confidently say that the boundary that existed 1000 years ago is the same boundary you are fighting and killing yourselves for today.

‘’We had a lot of land 1000 years ago but we have also given out a lot since then. We must be ready to accept the principle of give-and-take. We must be ready to accept a little bit to the right and a little bit to the left. We didn’t create the land, we met it at birth and will leave it behind when we die. 

The DG while appreciating Hon. Vincent Ofumelu and his aides for their direction and advice in the project and called on the government of the State to make public and implement the reports by the various committees and support the implementation of their resolutions. He further urged the communities to shift their focus to empowering the youth and women to become economically independent and progressive-minded. 

In his welcome remarks, the Chairman, Ayamelum Leaders of Thought, Sir Tony Chinedu, said his committee is doing everything possible to bring enduring peace to the area and will achieve significant success in no distant time and assured that the IPCR peace initiative for Ayamelum area will be fruitful assuring that the outcome of the workshop will be fully conveyed to the entire Ayamelum people.

The Traditional Ruler of Igbakwu, HRM, Prof. Onuora Nwuneli in his opening remarks frowned at the traditional societies not calling for meetings as Ayamelum is recognising now. He declared that westernisation of African culture causes huge problems as in land disputes as experienced in the area.

‘’Traditionally, we have a way of doing things before the Europeans messed up the whole process. We should start talking more, and that is the job of our leaders. The various committees involved should follow the pattern of what the DG said. 

On his part, the Transition Committee Chairman, Ayamelum LGA, Benjamin Onyeabor, appreciated the effort of the IPCR, saying the LGA has become problematic in recent times over land disputes. 

He maintained that every farming season Ayamelum people will fight over lands that they met, ‘’the land our forefathers lived, where are they, and they lived there peacefully about.’’

‘’I’m very worried that our people are fighting over pieces of land that belong to the federal government. I must tell you when the people of Ayamelum go to war it affects everyone.’’  

‘’What IPCR is doing today, we have started doing already, especially after the conflict between Anaku and Omor under the leadership of Anambra House of Assembly Speaker, Hon. Uche Okafor, myself, and Ayamelum Leaders of Thoughts. We constituted a committee, named Boundary and Peace Committee in Ayamelum and they are doing wonderfully well.’’ 

‘’I believe the ICPR intervention is a laudable one and I assure you that we will cooperate to the fruitfulness of this initiative,’’ he said.  

In her presentation on ‘’Harnessing the Role of Women in Building Peaceful Communities in Ayamelum LGA,’ Head of Internal Conflict Prevention and Resolution, Hezebah Achanya, while appealing for the strengthening of women’s role in conflict prevention, peacemaking, and peace building lamented the absence of women at peace building workshops and peace talks, saying that women are given the role of observers or dancing to entertain participants.

‘’The world over, women and children are the most vulnerable group in terms of war and conflicts. The harm to children and girls further exposes them to violence. Yet no significant role given to us in resolving issues.’’

The Assistant Director, Directorate of External Conflict, Prevention and Resolution, IPCR,  Emeka Mbah in his presentation, ‘’Peaceful Community Initiatives, Resilience, and Co-existence,’’ stated that peacebuilding is a deliberate act that does not just happen, noting that people prepare for peace as they prepare for war. 

‘’You can’t prepare for war and not face its consequences. If you don’t like violence stop the conflict. In a traditional Igbo setting, we have means of settling conflicts. The westernisation of our culture has not helped matters. Our traditional means of conflict resolution might sound primitive but it works and has been abandoned but it can be resuscitated.’’

He enjoined the process by which the critical stakeholders, local committees, and others work in partnership with each other to ensure a safer living environment and it is not going to happen by magic.

This he said will require a whole lot of sensitisation, awareness, a lot of human engineering toward making sure the people love one another. 

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