SIGNING OF THE “PLATEAU PEACE COMMITMENT”
Opening Remarks By Archbishop Ignatius A. Kaigama at the Interactive Session with Plateau State Governorship Candidates for the 2019 Elections, at DREP Centre, Kwang, Jos, 10th January 2019
The Dialogue Reconciliation and Peace (DREP) Centre Jos heartily welcomes you. This Centre was commissioned on 14th February, 2013 to provide a serene and neutral environment for individuals and different groups to come together in dialogue and sincere sharing of their problems and differences with a view to resolving them amicably; to proactively respond to the incessant conflict and the destruction of lives and property, the polarization of Christian and Muslim settlements in Jos and environs, the revenge mentality among youths and the gaps created by unhealthy prejudices and ignorance of correct religious tenets.
Considering the nexus that exists between elections and violent conflicts in Nigeria as past experiences have shown, there is the need therefore for us to come together to proactively discuss how to work in a concerted way to prevent all forms of election related violence in Plateau State as campaigns for the forthcoming elections intensify.
The Dialogue Reconciliation and Peace (DREP) Centre Jos has therefore humbly invited you some stakeholders to share with the gubernatorial candidates of the political parties in Plateau State, their party chairmen and their secretaries and to witness the common resolve they will make for peaceful conduct before, during and after the elections of next month. Furthermore, we want assurances from each of you candidates that you will run only issue-based campaigns, free of hate speeches, insults, intimidation, blackmail and inciting comments. We wish to plead also that you use this forum to kindly call on your followers to exercise great restraint and conduct themselves peacefully.
DREP Centre also requested the kind participation of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Security Agencies in Plateau State, Religious/ Community Leaders, our revered Traditional Leaders, Civil Society Organizations, the Media and indeed other key stakeholders to serve as witnesses of this simple but profoundly significant event.
If our guess is right, you are all seeking to be elected not for your personal gains, but for the good of the citizens of Plateau State. Thus, we request you to put Plateau State and its citizens first in all you do and say during the period of campaigns and elections.
Needless to say here that Plateau citizens have suffered so much losses and grievous pain because of needless conflicts and acts of criminality . Let us discourage our youth from violence or engaging in unbecoming conduct under the false pretext of campaigning for politicians or defending their interests.
Despite your political and ideological affiliations and differences, I pray that we will discuss sincerely and peacefully as brothers and sisters united in our love and passion for the further growth and development of Plateau State. The greatest disservice we can do to Plateau State is to allow our personal interests and differences affect Plateau State and its citizens negatively.
Pope Francis in his message for the 2019 World Day of Peace states that good politics is at the service of peace. Permit me please in concluding, to refer to the wise counsel and observations of Pope Francis who said among other things:
- Politics is an essential means of building human community and institutions, but when political life is not seen as a form of service to society as a whole, it can become a means of oppression, marginalization and even destruction.
- The thirst for power at any price leads to abuses and injustice.
- Political office and political responsibility thus constantly challenge those called to the service of their country
to make every effort to protect those who live there and to create the conditions for a worthy and just future. If exercised with basic respect for the life, freedom and dignity of persons, political life can indeed become an outstanding form of charity.
- Pope Francis goes on to recall the “Beatitudes of the Politician”, proposed by Vietnamese Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyễn Vãn Thuận, a faithful witness to the Gospel who died in 2002:
Blessed be the politician with a lofty sense and deep understanding of his role.
Blessed be the politician who personally exemplifies credibility.
Blessed be the politician who works for the common good and not his or her own interest.
Blessed be the politician who remains consistent.
Blessed be the politician who works for unity.
Blessed be the politician who works to accomplish radical change.
Blessed be the politician who is capable of listening.
Blessed be the politician who is without fear.
- Pope Francis states that sadly, together with its virtues, politics also has its share of vices, whether due to personal incompetence or to flaws in the system and its institutions. Clearly, these vices detract from the credibility of political life overall, as well as the authority, decisions and actions of those engaged in it. These vices, which undermine the ideal of an authentic democracy, bring disgrace to public life and threaten social harmony.
- He continues that good politics promotes the participation of the young and trust in others. When the exercise of political power aims only at protecting the interests of a few privileged individuals, the future is compromised and young people can be tempted to lose confidence, since they are relegated to the margins of society without the possibility of helping to build the future. But when politics concretely fosters the talents of young people and their aspirations, peace grows in their outlook and on their faces.
Everyone can contribute his or her stone to help build the common home.
- He says that political life, grounded in law and in frank and fair relations between individuals, experiences renewal whenever we are convinced that every woman, man and generation brings the promise of new relational, intellectual, cultural and spiritual energies.
In conclusion therefore my dear elders and fellow citizens of Plateau State, let us more than ever sincerely say no to violence and politics of bitterness, calumny, manipulation and intimidation.
May our discussions here be positive and fruitful and as we participate in the forthcoming elections, let Plateau State be the winner.