Amidst the sharp contrast between Borno State’s slogan: ‘Home of Peace’ and the breach of peace and security caused by persisting Boko Haram insurgency, NEEM Foundation, a Nigerian NGO, has introduced a peace rally themed: ‘Let’s Bring Back Our Peace’ to rebuild the peace and reconciliation shattered by the insurgency among the troubled communities.
“The internal and external implications of the insurgency in Borno state are all too obvious,’’ the Programme Manager for Reintegration, Social Cohesion and Stabilisation of the NGO, Emmanuel Bosah, said at one of the rallies in Maiduguri.
“Strained community relations, mistrust, proliferation of smaller pockets of violence, drug abuse, joblessness, economic difficulties, trauma, negative perception, fear, severe reduction of trading and economic activities in the state, and stigma, among others, signal some of the more dangerous consequences faced by and projected onto the state,” he said.
The Programme Manager said NEEM organised the Peace Rally, in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) and National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) to consolidate on peace-building activities, due to its belief that this approach would ease the propagation of the message of peace, raise awareness and garner support for peace-building in the region is very essential.
“We believe it is important to leverage the history and context of Borno – as a peace-loving people – to advocate, sensitize, and disseminate in/through the strongest possible means messages of peace and reconciliation that capture the essence of Borno as the Home of Peace,” he said.
The Peace rally mainly involves youth groups and organizations as well as other interested and apolitical Community Based Organisations (CBOsl, NGOs, and religious organizations.
The peace walk is targeted at conveying the message that Borno state stands for peace and remains a ‘Home of Peace.’
The Programme Manager said while Ramadan continues “our goal is to reach the people of Borno with an uncompromising message of peace and togetherness as we continue to intensify efforts to promote and encourage unity and peaceful coexistence in ‘The Home of Peace’.”
He said the objectives of the peace rally was to amplify the message of peace building in Borno state through active youth engagement and advocacy as a channel to prevent and counter extremist narratives in society.
“It is also to build positive publicity for peace processes in Borno state and garner solidarity for peace-building activities in the Borno state, consolidate on peace-building through sensitization and advocacy aimed at changing the mindset and perspectives of the youth about peace and to begin a process of state-wide, community-led conversations around peace and rebuilding to get Borno back to its status quo.