LAST Friday the world celebrated International Day of Peace.
Each year, the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on September 21. The General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.
Established in 1981 by unanimous United Nations Resolution, Peace Day provides a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to peace above all differences and to contribute to building a culture of peace.
The United Nations Member States adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 because they understood that it would not be possible to build a peaceful world if steps were not taken to achieve economic and social development for all people everywhere, and ensure that their rights were protected. The Sustainable Goals cover a broad range of issues, including poverty, hunger, health, education, climate change, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy, environment and social justice.
Sustainable Development Goal 16 “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions” calls for promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
The theme for this year is, “The Right To Peace – The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70”. The theme celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In his speech to mark International Peace Day, United Nation’s Secretary General, António Guterres, noted that peace takes root when people are free from hunger, poverty, oppression and can thrive and prosper.
While challenging all to speak for gender equality, inclusive societies, climate action, Guterres called for collaborative effort in the promotion and defend of human rights for all, in the name of lasting peace for all.
A peaceful society is one where there is justice and equality for everyone. Peace will enable a sustainable environment to take shape and a sustainable environment will help promote peace.
Unfortunately, the global community is characterised by conflicts between nations and groups, while many countries also experience internal conflicts causing disturbance to harmonious coexistence between people of different ethnic groups.
In Nigeria for example, there is the insurgency by Boko Haram, ethnic and religious violence, political conflicts, kidnapping and armed robbery all posing serious threat to national peace and unity.
No country can thrive developmentally in an atmosphere of crises, this, therefore, makes it imperative for all Nigerians, irrespective of ethnic or religious affiliation to maintain peace at all times as peace is one of the precursors to economic development of any nation.
Above all, ensuring security of lives and property of every citizen should be the priority of government as this will encourage investors to invest in the country for its socio-economic development.
Celebrating the day in Ibadan, two Nigerian leaders, former Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar and the Governor of Oyo State, Sen. Abiola Ajimobi, harped on the need for Nigerians to work for peace and unity of the country if the desire for growth and development is to be achieved.
The two leaders spoke at the annual United Nations International Peace Day celebration, held at the Trenchard Hall, University of Ibadan, under the chairmanship of Prof. Suleiman Elias Bogoro, FAS,with the topic as “Collaborative Peace Building in Nigeria”.
The event, organised by the staff and students of the Abdulsalam Abubakar Postgraduate Hall of the University of Ibadan, the programme was the maiden edition of General Abdulsalami A. Abubakar Foundation Peace Lecture and had the former Head of State as the Guest Speaker.
In his lecture, the retired Army General urged Nigerians to work for peace and always think positively about the country, asking, “do you want to be in the right relationship with God, our maker”? He insisted that “we have no other place to run to should the country be engulfed in fire”.
Against the background of some Nigerians advocating for dismemberment of the country, the former Head of State countered such thought, stressing that “Sudan did this, but the crisis in Southern Sudan is today greater than what was experienced when Sudan was united. We are many and of different identities.
“When brought together, the image of Nigeria is that of a rainbow that is more beautiful with many colours”, Abubakar added.
Oyo State Governor, who was the Chief Host at the lecture, in his own remarks, also urged Nigerians to remain in peaceful coexistence among themselves, noting that peace is the bedrock and foundation of any development.
According to him, “Oyo State is one of the most peaceful states in Nigeria today and this is because this administration based all its projects on peaceful coexistence of its people, and that is why we have been able to achieve a lot in terms of structural and empowerment of the people.
“The primary assignment of any government is to make sure that the security of its people is guaranteed, and here in Oyo State, we are the first to introduce Health Insurance Scheme and also the first state to introduce the Technical University”, the Oyo State helmsman stated.
In his opening remarks, the Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Bogoro posited that the country at this time in her history “needs moral voices to remind us we are getting it wrong and so must retrace our steps. This is time for patriots and nationalists to lend their voices to the present political and security challenges for the sake of our dear country”.
Prof. Bogoro maintained that the timing for the maiden lecture couldn’t be better at a time “Africa is daily being decimated and stunted by avoidable conflicts associated in many cases with the unbridled ambitions for political space and power, even at the expense of nationhood”.
He emphasized the roles of veritable leaders in times of need as is the case of the unfortunate difficult security and conflict chaos that the country and Africa find themselves at the moment.
The Chairman of the occasion praised Gen. Abubakar, whom he described as “a man that personifies non-violent peace building for sustainable development, an international citizen and peacemaker by personal example” just as he pointed out that there were lessons to pick from what he described as “the commendable efforts of the University of Ibadan”.
He noted that the Premier University had innovatively and creatively mentored and nurtured intellectuals and institutions in the country which he said are leverages for other institutions. Consequent upon this, the Chairman of the occasion said the students of the Abdulsalam Abubakar Postgraduate Hall should be commended.
“If peace is cheaper than war, I guess we should demonstrate this by the support for the Abdulsalam Abubakar Foundation and the rehabilitation of the Abdulsalam Abubakar Postgraduate Hall to give it a befitting facelift”, Prof. Bogoro charged.