WELCOME ADDRESS BY GAMBO IBRAHIM GUJUNGU NATIONAL PRESIDENT OF AREWA YOUTH FORUM AND PROJECT DIRECTOR AT THE END OF THE PARTICIPATORY EVALUATION MEETINGS OF THE FIRST PROJECT CYCLE OF CONFLICT MITIGATION AND PEACE BUILDING PROJECT IMPLEMENTED IN THE STATES OF KADUNA, BAUCHI, NASARAWA AND TARABA STATES IN NIGERIA ORGANIZED BY AREWA YOUTH FORUM (AYF) HELD AT ASAA PYRAMIDS HOTEL, KADUNA ON TUESDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2015
I am indeed happy to have the honour of welcoming you to this important gathering indicating the end of the participatory evaluation meetings of the first project cycle of Conflict Mitigation and Peace Building Project implemented in the States of Kaduna, Bauchi, Nasarawa and Taraba States in Nigeria organized by Arewa Youth Forum (AYF) holding at ASAA Pyramid Hotel, Kaduna.
Particularly I want to welcome our facilitators, participants and community leaders from the three selected centres in Kaduna (Gabasawa, Sabon-Gari Zaria and Kafanchan) for making it to the venue safely, we are indeed grateful to Almighty Allah for His journey mercy.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen as you may be aware this unique project model of Conflict Mitigation and Peace Building Project (CMPB) in the States of Kaduna, Bauchi, Nasarawa and Taraba is an initiative of Arewa Youth Forum as part of our humble contribution to the State and Federal Government’s efforts aimed at addressing the security and peace building challenges faced in some selected communities with crisis history. This meeting therefore is aimed at evaluating the outcomes and impact of the Community Dialogue Forum in the three selected centres across Kaduna State.
During the twelve months of the project period twelve communities in these selected States participants have met on regular basis to discuss issues affecting their wellbeing. Interestingly, and from reports so far collected from these dialogues, the Arewa Youth Forum was able to observe and identify many pointers but not limited to the followings:
- That effective implementation of various programmes, projects and policies at community level has suffered from administrative inconsistency, lack of sustainability, weak coordination and corruption.
- Communities appreciate the opportunity to interact and discuss community problems and challenges and to collectively proffer solutions.
- Over-concentration by the political class on the empowerment of individuals and neglecting the strengthening of community structures at the grassroots has greatly weakened the foundational structures of society – family and community.
- The opportunity for community action has yielded positive results with potential to serve as a model for other communities as CDFs report taking action to engage key stakeholders to address community issues.
- The outcomes include, to mention a few, Zauren Sulhu in Shira-Yana (Bauchi State), engagement of security agencies and traditional rulers thus bringing a united effort and focus to community needs and issues in Kafanchan leading to a township rally to sensitize the whole of Kafanchan town (Kaduna State), involvement of Local Government in Gossol LGA in the Wukari CDF (Taraba State)
- The CDFs have provided opportunity for grassroots intervention by the community people themselves. vii. All Centres report that the CDF has, provided a strong platform for identifying community issues and taking action to address them.
- Reports from all the CDFs indicate that unemployment, livelihood challenges, political manipulation, ethno-religious conflicts are major issues. This outlines critical areas of intervention for the communities.
- Gender mainstreaming is a critical dimension in community development and needs to be integrated into the project as from the next cycle. This is an important opportunity to bring this intervention for gender and social inclusion at grassroots level as against the conventional approach of getting governments to institute policies or legislate for gender and social inclusion. This will go a long way to showcase the merits and advance the arguments for gender and social inclusion as an imperative for development at both community and national levels.
- Lack of community strengthening programmes, in spite of existing policies, have weakened the economies and social fabric of grassroots communities and rendered them vulnerable as recruitment grounds for insurgent movements. This has grossly undermined livelihood development for a high number of communities
- Lack of autonomy to Local Governments has impeded adequate intervention for community development at the grassroots.
To this end, I am happy to report that the Arewa Youth Forum has compiled and submitted interim reports of the Community Dialogue Forums to Governors of the four States; we hope that at the end of this participatory evaluation meeting we will compile a final report to draw recommendations in line with what we observed for the intervention of State and Federal Governments as well as stakeholders.
I want to use this medium to express our appreciation to participants at the Dialogue Forum for showing interest and concern as well various contributions during the twelve months engagement that was aimed to mitigate conflict, build peace and advocate for the growth of communities.
I once again welcome you and wish you fruitful and enjoyable session while in the same vein thank you for honouring our invitation. I pray to Almighty Allah to continue to guide and protect us as we embark on this golden project that is designed to bring back the aged-long peace and harmony that our dear communities and people have known.
I thank you all.
GAMBO IBRAHIM GUJUNGU, FNY
NATIONAL PRESIDENT/ PROJECT DIRECTOR