DPI In Talks With Benue Communities Over Religious Freedom

By Denen AchussahThe Development and Peace Initiative (DPI), Kaduna is building the capacity of communities in Benue State with view to promoting religious freedom.
Emmanuel Sunday Tagwai, DPI Project Manager for Promoting Religious Freedom told journalists after a Town Hall meeting in Abinsi, Guma Local Government Area (LGA), Benue State that the project is been implemented in the Nigerian states of Benue, Kaduna, Plateau and parts of Bauchi.
He said the project seeks to check issues of conflict and banditary that raises tension in communities.
According to Tagwai, DPI is working with local leaders and communities to enhance their capacity to identify, prevent and also manage, in an event that there is conflict. Community Peace Advocates, comprising 12 members are constituted and trained in each of the communities where DPI is working.
With support from the US Aid for International Development (USAID), the JPI project is intended to help communities identify issues that give rise to conflict and to prevent and manage them, Tagwai said.
“We have set up the Community Peace Advocate team. We have trained them in terms of capacity to identify, prevent and also how to manage conflict.
“The response from the people is very warm. Key stakeholders have welcome the project and it is working. We hope that what we have sown here we yield fruits even after we must have left in achieving peace,” Tagwai said.
Attendees at the town hall meeting were the Tiv, Hausa and Jukun traditional, religious and socio-cultural leaders, women, youth trade unions.
They resolved that there is need for the people to come together as one united strong people for the achievement of development goals; that the meeting be regular to cement the relationship among the people; that they will explore ways of addressing their challenges; and that DPI will communicate their concerns to authorities with the view to addressing them.
Pastor Obedience R Musa of Christian Reformed Church Nigeria (CRCN), who also attended the meeting described the initiative as a good development. He observed that unemployment is the bane of today’s society.
Pastor Obedience said his church will continue to preach peace in meetings; treat people of other religions with respect; respect differences among the people; discourage tribalism; help the people to let go the past; organise community sanitation and a novelty match as efforts to promoting peace in the community.
It was an interactive meeting without respect for apportioning blames. It was about issues that are significant to the absence of peace. 
From the interactive, education, health and agriculture were topical. And that is not withstanding the fact that Abinsi has seen strife. Some of the homes that were consumed in the last unrest are yet to be rehabilitated.
 Tagwai told the people that it is not about apportioning blames; it is time to come out with ways to move forward.
Matthew Ordughga Aboh, Kindred Head Tiv, Abinsi, Jama’atu Nasir Islam, Mallam Garba Hassan Chief Imam of Abinsi Central Mosque and AlhajiLabaran Dambala, Kindred Head of Hausa Abinsi, were all in attendance.
DPI, according to Regina Onah, is the development of arm of the Catholic Arch Diocese of Kaduna, otherwise known as Justice, Development and Peace Initiative (JDPI). Regina is DPI’s Managing and Evaluation Officer.

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