Advocacy Centre organizes training for Niger Delta Youths on Human Rights, Conflict Resolution and Peace-building mechanisms
Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC) in partnership with Society for Women and Youth Affairs on Monday, July 20, 2020 organized training workshop for youths on Human Rights, Conflict Resolution and Peace-building mechanisms in the Niger Delta. The workshop which held at Green Palm Hotel, Bori-Ogoni was attended by delegates from Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Cross River, Ondo and Rivers States was supported by Development and Peace, Caritas-Canada.Speaking at the workshop, the executive Director of SWAYA, Stella Amanie who declared the event open thanked the delegates for finding time to turn out for the program and Development and Peace for their support. She called on the youths to take the training seriously and see themselves as community peace ambassadors who should work to promote peace in their communities.Also speaking, the Executive Director of Advocacy Centre, Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface in his welcome address expressed happiness welcoming the youths to the training workshop while also appreciating the supports of Development and Peace which made the organization of the workshop possible. He said “this training series titled “YOUTHS TRAINING ON HUMAN RIGHTS, CONFLICT RESOLUTION AND PEACEBUILDING MECHAMISMS IN THE NIGER DELTA” started in 2018 when it was first organised in partnership and funding support from PAX VIVA FOUNDATION of Rev. Fr. Abel while the 2019 batch for Legislative Assembly Members of all four local Government areas in Ogoni was organized with co-funding support from Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) and the 2020 batch funded by Development and Peace.Fyneface further said the project idea was developed in the United States during his participation in the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) which also led the establishment of “Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (simply called YEAC or ADVOCACY CENTRE)” as a platform to implement experiences gains and train other youths to promote human rights, conflict resolution and peace-building in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. The YEAC Executive Director also said “This training and capacity building project is conceived in line with the challenges in the Niger Delta region especially in the areas of human rights violations, threat to peace, under-development and the need to resolve these issues through well-articulated and tested conflict resolution mechanisms from global institutions, organizations and experts. The objective therefore include to raise awareness among the youths on human right issues, increase peaceful conflict resolution as well as training a new generation of leaders that would drive development for the prosperity of the Niger Delta and Nigeria in general in line with Advocacy Centre’s mission and vision in collaboration and partnership with local and international development partners and donor organization. So, it is against this backgrounds of immediate, medium and long-term objectives and goals that we launched “One Million Youth Volunteers Network of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters in the Niger Delta” on December 10, 2019 to mobilize and train the youths overtime as human rights defenders and promoters; environmental justice activists; climate change campaigners; Health Issues and Reporters of Corrupt Practices Community Development and Peace Advocates. In 2019, ADVOCACY CENTRE signed a contract with all mobile service providers in Nigeria through a Lagos-based contracting firm for the creation and maintenance of a secured and verifiable database of interested youths that wish to join us as volunteers to text YEAC FULL NAME, SEX, AGE, HIGHEST ACADEMIC QUALIFICATION, COMMUNITY, LGA AND STATE OF RESIDENCE from their mobile phones to 33811 to register as our bona-fide members”.Speaking during the training session, Associate Professor Fidelis Allen of the University of Port Harcourt trained the youths on the topic “TRANSFORMATIONAL CONFLICT MANAGEMENT” and elaborated further, explaining Conflict Management Techniques. While introducing the participants to conflict management techniques he spoke about conflict as being pervasive and the need for conflict management competent among the youths. The key objective of the raining was to build the capacity of participants to be able to respond to conflict in their communities, thus participants were introduced to the principles of transformative conflict management techniques and equipped with conflict transformation techniques so that they can serve as peace ambassadors by being enable to manage inter-personal and inter-group conflicts.The Executive Director of Advocacy Centre while speaking as one of the resource persons trained the youths based on practical knowledge gained from American communities, institutions and organizations during participation in IVLP with a view of exchanging the experiences that have worked in America communities in the Niger Delta to promote development, human rights, peaceful conflict resolution and peace-building mechanisms. Thus, he shared knowledge and experiences gained from United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Conflict Resolution Center of Montgomery, Maryland, Native American-led Conflict Resolution Strategies as demonstrated at Standing Rock, North Dakota in 2016 during the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and Community self-help projects/volunteerism as conflict resolution model at Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation in South Dakota, USA, etc. He also trained the youths on the youths using the “Do No Harm” conflict resolution principles developed by Mary Anderson which is what of the approaches of Advocacy Centre to issues in project implementation in line with the mission and vision of the organization for the Niger Delta. Commenting, contributing and asking questions during the training sessions, one of the participants, Mr. Lucky Ebere asked a question that sounded funny but important and thought provoking as it steered up discussions and made that hall livelier. He asked that “How can the knowledge gained from this training be used to resolve conflicts between the spiritual and physical world?” The participant went further to give instances where he had witnessed ‘conflict’ between the spiritual and physical world such that when the bridge to his community was being constructed that it was difficult for the construction company to pill the pillar into the sound in the river as all efforts made were futile with the pillar refusing to move into the ground until the company came to meet with the head of the community who did some incantation and did libation before the pillar was able to be installed. (Mr. Lucky Ebere)
He further backed his argument that conflict existed between the spiritual and physical world with the fact that he witnessed in a church where an uneducated woman that never went to school and does not under English language that everyone knows was speaking Queen’s English because she was possessed by some evil spirit and requested to know how such ‘conflict’ could be resolved with knowledge gained. Requesting to respond, another participant, Mr. Frank Nornubari said he does not think that the skills acquire from this training can be used to resolve conflicts between the spiritual and physical world. Adding that, he knows that the study of witchcraft has started in a South Africa University and that maybe, those who pass through the program would be able to resolve such conflicts. In his response, the Executive Director of Advocacy Centre, Fyneface Dumnamene propounded the concept of “SPIRITUAL CONFLICT RESOLUTION”, from the submission of Mr. Ebere adding that there is need for us to further examine, develop and expand the concept. (Mr. Frank Nornubari, a participant making contributions at the program)
Responding further, Fyneface said he agrees that other worlds exist outside the physical world and had also head reports of similar incidences of construction companies not been able to pill their pillars through into the ground during the construction of Rivers-Akwa-Ibom State boundary bride and during the construction of Bodo-Bonny road until certain special Whiteman was brought and he dived into the Bodo River where he spent about six hours, doing certain things in the spiritual world suspected to be appeasing the gods and maybe undertaking “Spiritual Conflict Resolution” as he came out of the water and asked the construction company to now put the pillar and it was done, meaning that “Spiritual Conflict Resolution” has taken place. Fyneface however said he understands what he likened to the concept of environmental possibilism and environmental probalilism that man influences his environment and his environment influences him but does not expect beneficiaries of the training to go and resolve conflict between the spiritual and physical world but to the best of their abilities in their communities among the living. Other participants at the training contributed interactively to the training and use local languages to analyze conflicting situation and their effective management strategies.
Speaking after the training, some participants expressed happiness for participation in the training workshop and pledged to use the knowledge acquired to promote peace in their communities as ambassadors of peace. They called for the sustenance of the training as youths that benefit from it would contribute to human rights defense, conflict resolution, peace-building and nonviolence advocacy in their communities and beyond.(A female participant from Bayelsa State, Philomina Kinere Lafieghe making contribution at the workshop)(A delegate from Bille, Rivers State, Isaac Ofori making contribution at the workshop)(A delegate from Ahoada East, Rivers State, Christian Ewoh making contribution at the workshop)