Governor Nasir El-Rufai on Saturday announced that the Kaduna State Government will donate N100 million to support the rebuilding of churches and mosques damaged during violent conflict in southern Kaduna.
The governor made the pledge in Samaru-Kataf where 29 communities from southern Kaduna unveiled a billboard to say sorry to each other for the violence they have contributed to or suffered.
Mr. El-Rufai praised the efforts of the communities to work for peace, under the auspices of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) that has also assisted peace building in Plateau State.
“It is clear that we must all go an extra mile to constructively engage with citizens and promote peaceful coexistence among our people,” the governor noted.
He pointed out the futility of violence.
“If violence was a solution to real or perceived grievances, the sheer number of lives lost, property destroyed and whole communities uprooted from their homes would have solved the problem long ago.
“Yet, despite decades of distrust that regularly explodes into violence, the problems remain. It has been said again and again that every war ends on the conference table. If that is the case, why must we kill ourselves before we realize the futility of violence?”
Welcoming the public apology and commitment to peace expressed by the communities, the governor said only the strong can say sorry.
He described the representatives of the communities involved in the Kafanchan Peace Declaration process as leaders in their own right, and urged that their work to consign violence to the past deserves every support.
“The writing on the billboard acknowledges that those who have invited us here cannot deliver reconciliation on their own. They have reminded us of a time when Kaduna was a peaceful place in which ethnic and religious communities co-existed peacefully. It is a Kaduna they want to go back to. It is not an aspiration towards an imagined Kaduna; it is a Kaduna that existed in many of our lifetimes.
“They are giving us an example of what we need to do; they say they are sorry for the suffering that each of their communities has contributed to and has suffered. They invite us as the communities of Southern Kaduna to own the reconciliation. They tell us to take a step towards ensuring that violence does not occur between us in future.”
The governor announced that a bill to create a Peace Commission for the state has been drafted. The Commission will enable inclusion of all citizens on plans for peaceful co-existence of all the peoples that live in Kaduna State. The Commission will work to pre-empt violence and institute a coordinated and quick response mechanism. It will develop appropriate mechanisms to stem violence and resolve conflicts peacefully. It will work with the youth as it is imperative that their peace building potential be explored and that they are integrated into a strategic peace constituency. The Commission will further develop education programmes that integrate peace education and reconciliation into curriculums.
“The Commission will have a difficult task but more divided societies than ours have learnt how to peacefully co-exist. So much depends on our understanding that we, across ethnic and religious groups, share a common humanity, that the existence of the other, that is those who speak a different tongue or who worship God in a different way is a blessing to us, and that difference itself is not a reason for division just as sameness is not a guarantee of bliss.”
The governor appealed to all communities in Kaduna State to uphold harmony.
“This state belongs to everyone that has chosen to make it home. Let us respect each other, abide by the law, do our duty to uphold harmony and firmly reject division and violence!”