By Stephen Adeleye
Okene (Kogi) – The ActionAid Nigeria and Participation Initiative for Behavioral Change in Development (PIBCID) on Saturday advised youths in Kogi to guide against any form of violence during the forthcoming general elections.
Mrs Gift Omoniwa, the Executive Director of PIBCID, gave the advice on Saturday in Okene at a Youth Summit, tagged: “Youths As Catalyst for Peace and Development’’.
The summit was organised by the NGOs in collaboration with the Office of the Special Adviser to Gov. Yahaya Bello on Youth Empowerment, Sports and Student Affairs.
Omoniwa said that the summit, which targeted six thousand youths across the state, was necessary because Kogi had been a flash point for all sorts of high profile kidnappings and other crimes.
According to her, the summit is aimed at supporting the state’s efforts in countering extreme violence and communal clashes.
“With the forthcoming general elections less than a year, it is important we start to educate our youths on their roles in nation building and the importance of peace.
“We are sensitising our youth on the effects of radicalisation and violent extremism and prepare them to respond responsively to crises in the state,” Omoniwa said.
Also, Mr Anicetus Antakpu of ActionAid Nigeria, said that two organisations had been working with communities and relevant government agencies in Kogi to systematically address the source of extreme restive violence.
“We have been working in the state through the system and structured strengthening approach against radicalisation to violent extremism project.
“This youth summit has provided a spring board for peace.
“However, the underlying causes of youth restiveness such as poverty, inequality and unemployment still needs to be addressed,” Antakpu said.
In his remarks, Mr Deola Eseyin, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Youth Empowerment, Sports and Student Affairs, said: “We all have responsibility to mitigate and save our country from this impending doom threatening it.”
According to Eseyin, a synergy will ensure that those who are yet to embrace these vices are isolated and engaged, while those who have found a living in them will be re-orientated to add value to the system.
“Kogi is leading in the provision of adequate security of lives and property and has prioritised security due to the singular understanding that development thrives in an atmosphere of peace.
“We are enjoying a peaceful environment because our youths have been prioritised and engaged to add value to the society.
“This summit is aimed at ensuring peace and we must give it a chance and allow it to flourish,” Eseyin said. (NAN)