By Lugard Izoukumor
In an annual UN peace bell ceremony to mark the International Day of Peace, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres via a televised keynote speech argued that:
“Peace and progress depend on coming together as a human family — united in the commitment to building a better and brighter world.”
The argument of António Guterres substantiates or corroborates, this year’s International Day of Peace: coming at a time humanity is in crisis. For example, Covid-19 has claimed more than 4 million lives, and of course it is still counting; conflicts are spinning out of control; inequalities and poverty are growing; there is mistrust amongst citizens with regard to policy formulators of governance, globally but more prevalent in Nigeria. If these are tough times for emerging and developed economies, [it is a more tougher time, for the local economy of Ijaw people!]. We need the war of development, not the fraught strategic rivalry (divide and rule).
In the twin states of [Delta and Edo]—it is either Ijaw people are entangled or embroiled in warring land disputes, intra-communal crises, or our lands are wanting to be whisked away by strong powers, resulting into deep economic uncertainty.
This is the present reality in Ogbe-Ijoh, Ikoro and Diebiri, but without protection over what we have, we will fight over what is left. These crises have exacerbated socio-economic inequality, which is disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable of us, and will drive us deeper into poverty.
Nigeria has a national legislation against terrorism, the Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act of 2013, which provides measures for the prevention, prohibition and combating of acts of terrorism, and the financing of terrorism, yet in Nigeria Ijaw people are confronted with environmental terrorism [environmental degradation], by this I meant environmental injustice.
A recent research thesis by the Keck School of Medicine of USC, states that environmental pollution will contribute to racial/ethnic disparities for Alzheimer’s disease risk, Alzheimer is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions.
This is a threat, a threat to youth and children, endangering their health, education, and safety, government therefore must enforce protection of environmental pollution, but government has been unreasonable to this conversation. So, as Ijaw people we must wake up, change course and unite because we need to divulge vital strategies to combat environmental pollution because our people face a stark choice of perpetual peril.
Government must build peace for people to choose peace because peace is the only option to repair the broken infrastructures, the endless land disputes and intra-communal crises of these radical upheavals. To avoid such an outcome requires serious efforts to address economic inequality, through better public services, government investment in citizens, business investment in workers, and a cultural swing towards hope, compassion, and respect.
Again, it is time for the government to rebuild our broken infrastructures, to make peace with one another, to lift each other up, instead of knocking us down, for us to live up, and the ball is on the court of government.
On this International Day of Peace, it is time government re-commit to building back. So, that the people can re-commit to one another for peace, which is the only panacea for sustainable economic development.
Izoukumor is a journalist and the present Information Officer of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Western Zone.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Daily Report Nigeria