The prevalence and impact of conflict and violent crisis in Nigeria is no doubt, startling. Amidst the challenges which purportedly emanate from ethnic grievances, selfish political interest, hunger, quest for survival, poverty, marginalization, family and land disputes, there is a need to raise discourses and discussions that would uphold peace.
Without a doubt, youths are in the centre of the insecurity in the Southeast and can be used as defense or enabling tools to drive violent conflict and at the same time, the youths are the key agents of peacebuilding. So, in order to harness and redirect youth energies and skills for peacebuilding, CLEEN Foundation in commemoration of the 2022 International Peace Day, organized a youth conference in Imo State on September 27, 2022 aimed to promote nonviolent strategies to address ethnic grievances, eschew violence and build a momentum for peace in the Southeast, ahead of 2023 general elections.
The conference which had in attendance forty participants from tertiary institutions, religious & community youth leaders, young social media influencers, youths in media, young activists, and youths in technology, provided real time skills such as conflict resolution, critical thinking, Communication & Research skills as well as critical non-violence strategies, all of which informed youths to set up support networks, engage in advocacy, provide safe space for conversations and dialogue, etc.
Youths attested to the fact that the number of violent conflicts has dramatically increased since 2010 and the call for an entirely different response saw youths practically give in to pushing forward, positive narratives across their social media handle, identifying and developing key strategic messages for peacebuilding, developing effective and innovative social media campaign and messages for peace ahead of 2023 general elections using the hashtags #UdoKaNma #UdoBuOganiru #Let’sDialogue #LetPeaceLead #SoutheastNigeria, with effect from 28th September 2022.
On a final note, the facilitators, while stating that the peace-building process was long-term and required patience, consistency and passion, recommended that a communication channel be created to monitor progress and keep the engagement ongoing for the sustainability of the program.