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When Plateau youth converged for Youth Summit

The youths came in their hundreds, they thronged Plateau’s famous Hill Station Hotel for a Youth Summit aimed at finding ways of addressing the lingering…

The youths came in their hundreds, they thronged Plateau’s famous Hill Station Hotel for a Youth Summit aimed at finding ways of addressing the lingering ethno-religious intolerance that has bedevilled the state in almost two decades.

Drawn from the 17 local government areas of the state, the youths’ presence was to answer the call of Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), a multi-security taskforce, saddled with the responsibility of restoring and maintaining peace in the state since 2010.

With the theme: “Re-energizing the potentials of Plateau youth for positive development,” the gathering was aimed at bringing a stop to the series of crisis that have claimed hundreds of lives, with thousands displaced and properties worth millions of naira lost.

The large turn-out was unprecedented, cultural dances made the event colourful but the climax was reached when youths of diverse ethnic and religious groups embraced one another and pledged to live in peace while vowing to provide security agencies with information on suspicious activities in their communities.

“We are all created by God and if He so wishes, all of us would be the same colour, tribe and religion, but God created us different and wants us to live with one another, learn to love one another and forgive without religious or tribal sentiment,” said Margaret Pam from Riyom LGA.

Adudu Emmanuel, 25, a farmer from Bassa LGA said, “I understand that peace is cardinal to everything; my business, farming, mining and development. If there is peace I can farm and take my farm produce to the city to sell without hindrance.”

For Hajara Ibrahim, 27, from Jos North LGA who participated in the summit, she said the message was clear, “without peace no business can thrive, without peace no nation can develop.”

The summit which is the first of its kind in collaboration with OPSH’s Civil Military Relief Initiative laid the foundation for building sustainable peace in the state. OPSH Commander, Major General Augustine Agudu said his command brought the youth together to reiterate the importance of peace to them.

He explained that, “In the cause of our operations on the Plateau, we have been able to criss-cross the nooks and crannies of the state and we have interacted with wide range of youth groups and understood that there is a distress call to organize the summit so that the youth can tell us the cause of the crisis in the state from their own view point.”

General Agundu explained that he came to the conclusion that even the youth do not understand what they are fighting for, “and I have said it loud and clear that we can also live as one here on the Plateau just as it used to be,” he said.

A co-speech delivered by Islamic cleric, Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Morel Wuye left many inspired as the two religious leaders harped on the importance of peace by quoting verses from the Holy Qur’an and Holy Bible.

In his goodwill message, the Director General, Plateau Peace Building Agency (PPBA), Mr. Joseph Lengmang described as sad that violent conflicts have become a recurring  decimal on the Plateau but stressed that heads must be put together to arrest the vicious cycles.

Also speaking the Commander of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), in Plateau State, Ibrahim Braji urged youths to shun drugs and violence adding that “drugs have made a lot of youths liabilities and agents of conflict merchants.”

Chairman, Plateau Youth Council (PYC), Fabong Jemchang on his part urged the youth to have a re-think on their lives and know that their destinies are in their hands.

“Youth shouldn’t be used or manipulated by anybody to cause mayhem on the Plateau. We need peace to survive and to conduct business, there is no peaceful co-existence if there is chaos,” he said.

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