Para-Mallam Peace Foundation Commemorates Nigeria’s 63rd Independence Day, Calls for Sustained Peace Building Efforts Across Nigeria

Press Statement

1st October 2023

Jos, Nigeria – The Para-Mallam Peace Foundation joins all Nigerians in commemorating the 63rd anniversary of Nigeria’s independence today, October 1st 2023. This day marks an important milestone in our nation’s history, when Nigeria gained freedom from colonial rule and became a newly independent country in 1960.

As we mark this symbolic day with celebrations, reflections and renewed hope, the Para-Mallam Peace Foundation reiterates its commitment to promoting sustainable peace, interfaith dialogue, conflict prevention and national unity in Nigeria. We believe that with justice, equity, inclusiveness, mutual understanding and active peacebuilding, Nigeria can fulfill its immense potential and build a stable, prosperous society where all citizens live in dignity.

While commemorating Nigeria’s independence, we must acknowledge that decades after independence, the country continues to face serious challenges of insecurity, corruption, poverty, unemployment, and ethnic-religious divisions. Conflicts between farmers and herders, the insurgency in the Northeast, banditry in the Northwest, and separatist agitations in the Southeast result in much bloodshed and human suffering. This in turn exacerbates the fragility of the polity.

As we celebrate Independence Day, The Para-Mallam Peace Foundation calls on the Federal Government, State Governments, institutions, leaders across the public and private sectors, and indeed all Nigerian citizens to commit to sustained efforts at engendering national integration, tolerance, justice and peace. This is the surest path to overcoming current challenges and building the Nigeria of our dreams.

In particular, we urge prioritizing initiatives that alleviate poverty, provide education and jobs for the youth, promote equality for women, uphold human rights, combat corruption and impunity, as well as reforms that ensure good democratic governance and stability. Additionally, investments in reconciliation, community dialogue and mediation are needed to heal divisions and prevent future conflicts.

The Para-Mallam Peace Foundation commends President Bola Tinubu for inclusive appointments in his new administration, giving notable representation to minorities in key positions. This demonstrates exemplary leadership that fosters national integration. We encourage sustained efforts to carry all geopolitical zones along, addressing marginalization.

The Foundation also commends the Governor of Plateau State, Mr. Caleb Mutfwang, for hitting the ground running with economic development projects, education and healthcare reforms, rural infrastructure and youth empowerment schemes. We urge the Governor to couple this with strengthening efforts on peacebuilding, community security and social cohesion in Plateau State.

In the same vein, we acknowledge and praise the new Commander of the Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), Maj General AE Abubakar, for the progress made in drastically reducing attacks and incidents of violence in Plateau State and neighboring regions since he assumed command. The return of relative peace in areas that were frequently plagued by armed attacks, reprisal killings and terrorism gives hope.

We encourage the OPSH Commander to continue close collaboration with stakeholders and communities, while deploying all necessary measures to protect vulnerable groups, restore security, uphold justice and human rights. OPSH’s operations should align with global best practices on peacekeeping, preventing conflict escalation and maintaining law and order. They must also build confidence amongst communities through fairness, empathy and dispute resolution.

However, amidst pockets of progress, many Nigerian families continue to suffer from the menace of terrorism, particularly in the Northeast. The Para-Mallam Peace Foundation is deeply concerned that five years after her abduction by Boko Haram terrorists, young Leah Sharibu remains in captivity reportedly because she refuses to renounce her Christian faith. Many other girls with little known information in the media are also suffering same fate as Leah’s with little or nothing being done to rescue them.

We call on the Federal Government to intensify diplomatic efforts and explore all reasonable options to secure Leah Sharibu’s release, along with other young girls kidnapped by Boko Haram/ISWAP. Government must expedite actions to rescue them from trauma and bring them home to their families.

We appeal to First Lady, Remi Tinubu to particularly extend care, support and her voice as a mother to the young girls who have escaped from Boko Haram/ISWAP captivity after suffering horrific abuse. They need psychosocial rehabilitation and reintegration assistance to overcome their traumatic experiences. As citizens, we must show them empathy, love and encouragement.

On this Independence Day, The Para-Mallam Peace Foundation renews its commitment to advancing sustainable peace building initiative nationwide through targeted programs on interfaith dialogue, civic education for democracy, youth empowerment for non-violence, advocacy and reconciliation.

We remain dedicated to highlighting stories of peaceful co-existence, tolerance and cooperation between Nigerians of all faiths and ethnicities as part of strengthening the fabric of our diversity and nationhood. Our foundation will continue collaborating with stakeholders across communities, government, civil society, traditional institutions, security agencies, religious bodies and the private sector to build consensus for peace.

This anniversary calls us to solidarity as one people, while addressing the root causes of conflicts non-violently. We must be steadfast in working towards an inclusive, just and equitable society where every Nigerian can fulfill their aspirations in dignity. The task of nation building requires the collective efforts of all citizens. Working hand-in-hand, with compassion, integrity, patriotism and commitment to excellence, we can build the Nigeria of our founding fathers’ dreams.

God bless Nigeria.

The Revrd Dr. Gideon Para-Mallam, Founder, President and CEO The Para-Mallam Peace Foundation.

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