The Kaduna State Peace Commission has on Monday solicited the support of the media in the building of lasting peace in Kaduna State.
The Executive Chairperson of the commission Mrs. Priscilla Ankut, made the appeal during the consultation with the media on ways to develop a strategic action plan for the next five years.
She said that the media is a critical stakeholder in peacebuilding in the state. According to her, the media has been playing a role in reporting conflict situation in the state for the past three decades, such reporting can contribute meaningfully in the peacebuilding process.
The media is very strategic in helping the commission achieve its mandate, because what the media reports can either help in resolving conflicts or fuelling it.
“We, therefore, want the media to not only help us in reporting our activities and enlightening the public on the need for peace but also help us generate ideas on ways to go about meeting our mandates,” she said.
She explained that the commission was established six months ago to specifically promote peace and harmonious coexistence, conflict prevention and conflict resolution and peacebuilding.
Ankut identified structural drivers of conflict to include competition over land and water use, indigene/settler dichotomy, religious and ethnic divide, suspicion and mistrust among others.
She said that the commission needed the support of the media to change the narrative about the conflict in the state by gravitating towards reports that helped in restoring and maintaining peace.
Also speaking, Dr. Saleh Momale, one of the commission’s Permanent Commissioners, noted that it would be very difficult to avoid conflict in communities, but nonetheless said that conflict could be prevented from escalating to violence.
Momale called on the people of the state to see the commission not as an arm of the government, but as a commission of the people of the state.
Journalists from different media organization pledged their support, but however, advised the commission to assert its independence from the state to build the needed confidence of the people.
They also called on the commission to address the structural injustice that kept the people apart, rather than united, as well as hate speech coming from highly placed political officials in the state.
The media practitioners equally advised the commission to consistently engage religious and community leaders, politicians, and all relevant stakeholders crucial in the peacebuilding process.
Ben Akande of Vanguard Newspaper urged the commission to resolve the current conflict between Gov. Nasir El-Rufai led-APC and the Suleiman Hunkuyi/Shehu Sani group, which might lead to violence.
According to him, it is only when the people see the commission addressing conflict-prone policies of the government that established it that people can trust the commission and support it to succeed.
Mr. Didam La’ah of Invicta FM, Kaduna, called on the commission to directly engage the people, particularly in rural areas to enlighten them on the need to live in peace.