By Emeka Nwokocha
The bottlenecks hindering industrial and economic development in Warri, headquarters of Warri South local government area of Delta State, will be a thing of the past soon, as mechanisms are being put in place by youth leaders in Warri to stamp out youth restiveness and violence in the activities of youths, to restore lasting peace and orderliness in the once peaceful and prided oil city.
The renewed vigour to foster unity and peace among the ethnic groups in Warri and make the city attractive to investors was inspired recently at the launch of Speak! 2019 Campaign with theme: Peace Forum – The Role of Youths in Peacebuilding, organised by Development Initiative for Community Impact (DICI), in collaboration with West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), RYPCAM, and CIVICUS.
The peace building campaign which took place at DICI resource centre attracted youth leaders from the communities and ethnic groups in Warri South local government area of Delta State, including other stakeholders in the Civil Society Organisation (CSO) to the forum.
The Executive Director of DICI, Mrs. Rachael Misan-Ruppee, said the launch of the Speak! 2019 campaign was geared towards promoting lasting peace in Warri, and designating the youths as peace builders and change agents.
She stated: “the Speak! 2019 campaign avails youth leaders in Warri South local government area, the opportunity of galvanizing potent ideas and actions to right the wrongs in Warri, such as ending all manner of youth restiveness and de-emphasizing violence in the activities of the youths, with a view to wooing investors, and boosting the dwindling economy of the oil city.”
She emphasized importance of unfettered peace in fostering economic growth in Warri, even as she charged the youth leaders to take critical steps to restore peace in their communities and live in harmony with their neighbours (other ethnic groups) in the oil city, noting that “a conducive environment is needed to revive the shrinking economic and industrial growth of Warri.”
“There is a compelling need to restore peace in Warri in order to boost economic and social activities and create jobs for the teeming unemployed youths. This informed the concept of “Speak! 2019 Campaign.” It avails the youth leaders of the communities and ethnic groups in Warri the opportunity of coming together to promote a common agendum, “PEACE” and discuss the endemic problems hindering economic and industrial growth of Warri over the years and then, proffer a solution. We believe that when the youths come together to discuss the problems in Warri, face-to-face, it will create a common ground for righting the wrongs in the oil city,” she noted.
The Chairman of Ajamimogha community, Mr. Scott Awani, appreciated the Executive Director of DICI, Mrs. Rachael Misan-Ruppee for championing a novel and commendable cause, saying the peace forum would have a tremendous impact in enlightening the youths in Warri about the gains of living together peacefully.
He Said: “it is obvious that the peace we had in Warri in the old good days is no longer what we see around us currently. This goes to affirm the fact that tolerance among the ethnic groups in Warri has waned over the years, and its attendant consequence stare us in the face everyday. Therefore, the time has come for the youths to come together to promote unity and love by making peace the cornerstone of our existence.”
Continuing, he said: “where there is no peace, there will be no development.” Adding, “the interaction we had at the forum will spur me to go back to my community and begin a process of reorienting the mindset of the youths towards embracing peace, which in turn, will pave way for speedy socioeconomic development of Warri.”
Mr. Gabriel Edema, from Ekurede Itsekiri, noted that the peace discussion forum was a welcome development. He said: “the interaction at the peace forum has shown that the youths need more enlightenment and education to enable them get over the bug of ignorance, so they could attune their minds to the imperatives of engendering mutual understanding among the ethnic groups in Warri.” He added, “I hope to see more of this peace talk being organised regularly”
The PRO of Okere-Urhobo community, Mr. Omatsheye Okpaghoro, acknowledged the benefits of living together peacefully in Warri, noting that the peace forum was a timely event to address the age long grievances among the ethnic groups in the oil city.
“I have learnt we do not need to use violence to compel companies operating in our communities to employ our youths or carry out their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The best and civilized way to go about it is diplomacy, advocacy and dialogue. And I see Warri becoming an investors’ heaven once again as soon as we de-emphasize violence and become hospitable again.”
The Executive Director of Rural Youths, Peace and Care Foundation, Hon. Anighoro Peter, expressed confidence that the peace forum has set in motion the process of restoring lasting peace in Warri.
He said: “going by the progress achieved at the peace forum, I can tell you that everything is getting better in Warri. The youths were able to identify the root causes of the crisis, problems and conflicts that have worked against the progress of Warri over the years, and the way out of the quamire has equally been proffered. The importance of tolerance in strengthening mutual understanding was emphasised strongly at the forum. It is a great achievement in that the youth leaders are taking the good message to their communities and constituencies to promote peace and love. And virtually all the youths that participated in the session have shown strong zeal to build peace among the ethnic groups and move the oil city of Warri forward.”
In the same vein, Secretary to Ugbori community, Mr. Misan Duduma, and Mr. Akurili Onome, thanked God for making the peace discussion a success, even as they pledged their commitment to foster peace in their communities so as to helping in building lasting peace in Warri.
Mrs. Helen Bamidele, a Director at DICI, described the peace discussion session as a proactive initiative aimed at bringing the youths from various communities in Warri South local government area together to address the challenges the oil city of Warri is grappling with, in order to catalyse economic growth.
“The peace forum was a good interactive session that offered the youths an opportunity of discussing the endemic problems militating against the development of Warri over time. There is no doubting the fact that when this gathering of youths is sustained, there will be a lasting peace in Warri. It is pertinent to say that in the good old days, Warri was a home for all. It is encouraging that the youths will go back to their communities and spread the good news further to the grassroots with a view to restoring peace and improving the economy of Warri.”