In what has been described as a new dawn in Niger Delta, Nigeria and Africa at large, a leading Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), the Center for Peace and Environmental Justice (CEPEJ) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Institute of Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) to continue the crusade of peaceful coexistence in the region and beyond.
Besides the signing of MoU between the two peace advocating bodies, the National Coordinator, CEPEJ, Chief Amb. Mulade Sheriff on behalf of CEPEJ, donated an expensively built structure within the premises of CEPEJ at Ugolo in Okpe Local Government Area of Delta State for the Institute of Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) to operate as its South-South Zonal office free of charge to cover the whole of Niger Delta region.
In his address, Mulade said, “I am delighted to be here today to sign an agreement to formalize and deepen the partnership between CEPEJ and the Institute for peace and conflict resolution (IPCR).
“We had thought we could sign this Memorandum of Understanding, MoU early, but circumstances did not allow.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us that trust, partnership, and solidarity are essential for confronting threats to peace and security. This agreement is indeed a significant milestone in our ongoing collaboration.
“Strong peace building organisations like ours are more important now than ever for bringing communities together while trying to meet other Sustainable Development Goals.
“The MoU is not just a piece of paper as it commits us to close partnership in the key areas of Peace building, Conflict Resolution and Development of Society.
“For years, CEPEJ and IPCR have directed their joint focus and expertise to fostering local involvement in peace building conversations and activities. We have come a long way, and now is the right moment for us to strengthen our cooperation and enhance our common focus and work policy.
“We live in demanding times. Nigeria faces complex challenges that have profound implications for peace, security and inequality, and we must address the issue of an ageing population, the prospect of irreversible climate change and increased migration flows. These challenges are complex and interwoven and can only be tackled by working together at the individual, local, regional, national and global levels. They require multi-sector approaches and call for new ways of working and also for policy coherence built through engaging the Federal Government, other civil societies, the private sector, households and individuals. We represent the people at the grassroots and we do understand best, their needs and interests. Our partnerships with stakeholders make the grassroots a unique place to foster progress.
“With this Memorandum of Understanding, we are building a joint action from the local to global level, taking necessary steps to implement the 2030 Peace Agenda and its SDGs. CEPEJ’s aim of signing this GMoU with the IPCR is to open doors for other stakeholders in the Niger Delta region to key into the partnership and exploit the benefits for the development of our communities.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to highlight a priority area of our partnership. In terms of peace, Nigeria was scored very low in the 2016 Global Peace Index and rated same with other countries such as Libya, Sudan, Iraq, Yemen, and other war torn countries. The federating units making up the country are yet to truly recognise one another as constituents of one nation due to religious, economic, political and social factors, amongst others.
“The Nigerian environment is unnecessarily prone to conflict, so much so that even government interventions and international support are proving inadequate in addressing the problem. Therefore, the onus falls on civil society organisations such as CEPEJ aided by indigenous philanthropists in the country to do the much they can to ensure peace and stability of the country, by attending to one community at a time. We must translate this MoU from a commitment on paper to a reality in the lives of the people we serve.
“Finally, I would like to sincerely thank the Director General, IPCR Prof. Bakut Tswah Bakut, colleagues and friends here for making this agreement possible. With goodwill, clear ambitions and a strong commitment to work together, I will look forward to taking the next steps towards our common goal of a peaceful, conflict-free, and developed society for all.”
On his part, Director General of the Institute for peace and conflict resolution (IPCR), Prof. Bakut Tswah Bakut noted that the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) was established in February, 2000 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, adding that the Institute is under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is primarily a research centre, a think-tank and an agency to strengthen Nigeria’s capacity for the promotion of peace and conflict prevention, management and resolution.
Prof. Bakut continued that IPCR is committed to providing Africa with policy options based on result-oriented research while building capacities and intervening in conflicts spots to enable Africa emerge as a secure, peaceful and democratic continent where the principles of the rule of law and human dignity are respected.
He noted that while the IPCR mandate is to develop and advise African government on peace and conflict resolution, he maintained that the Institute is a quiet organisation that do not make noise about its achievements, adding that the whole Niger Delta Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) was discussed, developed and designed by the office.
In an interview shortly after the signing of MoU and handing over of building ceremony from the CEPEJ National Coordinator, Amb. Sheriff Mulade to the IPCR, Prof. Bakut stated that the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), under the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has commenced a nationwide awareness campaign to curtail the ongoing insurgency, kidnapping, banditry, killings, farmers-herders clashes and destruction of properties, especially the government facilities across the country.
Bakut asserted that CEPEJ is a special NGO that needs to be partnered with by the Federal Government of Nigeria, stressing that at the level of the IPCR, his presence anywhere including his presence during the signing of the MoU is the presence of the federal government, adding that this new office will cover the whole of the South South.
Nevertheless, he said there are so many similarities between CEPEJ and IPCR, maintaining that they all have a common vision to focus not just Nigeria but the whole of Africa.
Meanwhile, Prof. Tswah stressed that the signing of the MoU will no doubt bring a new dawn in Niger Delta, Nigeria and Africa as a whole, noting that CEPEJ has overtime proven itself to be worthy of the Federal Government partnership, stressing that with this new development, they are happy and looking forward to achieve their mandate in Africa.
The ceremony was well attended by both officials of CEPEJ, IPCR, Police and others.