The Centre for Advocacy of Justice and Rights (CAJR) has trained 60 women and youth as advocates for peace and social cohesion in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau.
The training, according to Etty Peter, Executive Director of the organization, was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Nigeria Early Recovery Initiative (NERI).
The peace initiative is committed to connecting communities separated from each other as a result of years of violent conflicts between Fulani herders and Berom natives and hopes to break the “no-go-area” syndrome in the locality and the state in general.
Ms. Peter said the participants were selected from three communities within the locality, adding that lessons learned would be replicated in other parts of the state.
“In this project, we brought together 60 women and youth comprising both the Berom natives and the Fulani. We also brought in other ethnic nationalities across Zargwom, Kaching, and Ruku communities in the local government.
“The project enables them to work in public facilities like clinics, primary schools, markets, houses of traditional rulers, and religious leaders in their communities.
“Under this program, they can access places that were not mutually accessible to each other due to the lingering conflict in the locality.
“The beneficiaries have been trained through a series of workshops and have carried out some practical works in their communities as a way of promoting social cohesion.
“At the end of the activity, participants will be paid stipends in order to improve their livelihoods,” she said.
Ms. Peter disclosed that the NGO had worked with the beneficiaries in the areas of early warning signals, early response, and protection aimed at promoting unity and security consciousness in the communities.
In a remark, Jock Alamba, Chairman, Management Committee of the council, thanked the NGO for playing key roles toward deepening peaceful coexistence in the area.
He commended the organization for the gesture and expressed optimism that it would consolidate the peace initiatives of the government toward achieving lasting peace.
“We are happy that these efforts are bringing our communities back to the old glorious days of a united people. This humanitarian service you have delivered in Barkin-Ladi will benefit the world and we will be better off for it.
“It will go a long way in assisting the government to interact with the communities because anytime a community becomes inaccessible, it becomes difficult for the government to reach out to such communities with developmental programs.
“Today, seeing both the Fulani and the Berom people working together is a thing of joy; a few years ago, who would ever imagine this scenario? No one believed they could come together, not to talk of working together under a peaceful atmosphere like this.
“This is an indication that it is possible for us to go back to our old good days and give our children a better future filled with trust and love for one another,” he said.
The Chairman urged the beneficiaries to be good ambassadors of CAJR, the local government, their communities, and immediate families. He told them to identify bad eggs likely to cause problems in their communities and report them to appropriate authorities for possible action.