By Reuben Nwankwo

The Imo State Bureau for Peace and Conflict Resolution, recently organized a One-Day Seminar on the need for Peaceful Co-existence and co-habitation for the leadership of Hausa community in Imo State.

The event which took place at the palace of HRH Alhaji Baba Suleiman Saidi, the Sarki, Hausa in Imo State attracted the leadership of various  civil society groups within the Hausa community including Miyetti  Allah ie cattle breeders and women groups led by the SSA to the State Governor on Northern Women Affairs, Hajiya Fatima Hamza Abdulahi.

Speaking at the ceremony, the Director-General of the Bureau for Peace and Conflict Resolution/Commandant-General of Imo Peace Corps, Amb. Engr Peter Ohagwa said that the seminar was designed to address/sensitize the people on the “Causes of Communal crises and how to avoid them”. He explained that the leadership of Hausa community was chosen for the seminar to enable the message of peace easily get-down to the various groups, within the Hausa community.

In his paper entitled, “A pre-condition for Sustainable Relationship and co-Habitation”, Amb. Ohagwa noted that peace is Progress, Development, Life, promotion, relaxation, it breeds entertainment and merriment and also encourages inner quietness among others; hence to achieve the peace that encourages peaceful co-existence, obedient to rule of law, order, loyalty to constituted authorities, respect to one another, are all we need to live together peacefully as well for the as understanding of effective conflict management strategy”.

Amb. Ohagwa also enumerated the ingredients that are most needed for peaceful co-habitation amongst indigenes and non indigenes in the state and country to include, “to be guided by the established laws of both federal and state governments, respect and observing of the customs and Traditions of the host communities, respect for constituted authorities, and to be part of the social activities of the host communities. Others are to avoid hate speech, adopt- social living standard of host communities, respect for each others religious, faith, and to learn how to report-issues to the leadership to handle.

The Director-General in addition advocated for strong synergy between cattle rearers (herders) and host communities as he noted that before now Fulanis’ have been rearing and selling their cows in the south East, South-South and South West without problems and wondered what the really cause of incessant fighting and misunderstandings could be.

He appreciated the leadership of Hausa community in Imo for their efforts so far, assuring them that Governor Hope Uzodinma is determined to see that peace reigns supreme in the state. In conclusion Amb. Ohagwa stated  “as one Nigeria, we must be our brothers’ keepers and must learn to coexist peacefully amongst ourselves. No doubt, the constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria empowers all citizens the freedom to reside anywhere of their choice in our country, Nigeria. Our advocacy, here today, therefore, is to ensure that we live together peacefully wherever we choose to stay. As humans, conflict is inevitable wherever two or more people abide together, talk less of groups of people with different family and culture background”.

Responding, the Sarki Hausa, HRH Alhaji Baba Suleiman Saidi commended the Bureau for the seminar which he said has helped to educate them more on how best to ensure peaceful co-existence with them host communities. He explained that there is no need for crises because according to him the Hausa people came to Owerri in 1893 even before the British, intermarried and some have properties. Revealing that most Hausas in Imo State have Igbo blood, he explained that is why there existed the highest level of peace between Igbo and Hausa community in Imo State than in any other states in the South East.

Alhaji Suleman further said that Hausa community leadership is not resting on its oars as it has modalities for settling crises or conflicts between farmers and Fulani cattle rearers (Herders) and appealed that any such cases of misunderstanding be reported to his palace as they have the data of all the Hausa person residing in Imo State.

While giving kudos to the Bureau for its initiative he assured of the continued peaceful co-existence between Igbos and Hausa. The monarch the called on the State Government to empower the Bureau the more for the good Job it is doing and promised to encourage them in his own little way. In an interview, the SSA to the Governor on Northern Women Affairs, Hajiya Fatima Hamza Abdulahi said that she was elated on the seminar and promised to do her best with all relevant bodies to see that Hausa women in Imo State are not left out in the campaign for peaceful co-existence and the need to accept the state as their place of origin or adopted home.