- Convener, Nigeria Network and Campaign for Peace Education
- Technical Adviser, Centre for Social Transformation and Human Development (CHDST)
- California State University, Sacramento, USA
- University of Bradford, UK
What are contexts and issues that you work on? How are you using peace education to address these issues? What keeps you going?
My work focuses mainly on the Niger Delta. The intractable conflict there is between various parties: community against community, youth against elders, community against oil companies, militants against government forces, etc. In the midst of the wealth exploited in the region and the development budget funds, people are lacking the necessary infrastructures. The district, although rich in natural resources, is sadly among the poorest parts of Nigeria. This poverty can be largely attributed to the pollution of most farmlands and rivers. The traditional means of livelihoods have collapsed; there’s little social structure like health, education, and sanitation to cater to the people’s needs. Multiple factors are fuelling the conflict which is not just over resources and their control. Our work in Peace Education focuses on the need for youngsters to appreciate that the reality in their area is not fair, right, and just, while understanding that violence is not the solution. We focus on young people for they are the future of the area and the country. If youngsters embrace a culture of peace, then there can be transformation in society. The calls we receive from people about the effect of our activities is an inspiration for us to continue the work.
What has been your most meaningful or noteworthy moment in your peace education career?
It always strikes me when those we have impacted continue the work in their communities. Our theory of change is to train young persons who thereafter train and influence those under their sphere of influence. When we see the above happen, it justifies the work we are doing and it is a source of strength for us.
How and why did you start working in peace education?
The motivation for this work is based on my passion for social justice. I have a strong empathy for the weak and oppressed. In the conflict situation we witness, the communities are not in a position to engage with the oppressors. It is imperative that their capacity is built to have voice and agency to change their situation without resorting to violence. I feel I can contribute to changing the situation in the region. I started this work based on my first hand witness of the devastation in the environment and the helplessness of the people in the face of manipulation from global corporations and government. I hope our little contribution can make a difference!