The National Orientation Agency (NOA) and the National Theatre/National Troupe of Nigeria have embarked on a peace-building initiative in the communities where the crisis has persisted.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, the Director General of NOA, Dr Garba Abari said there was no need inciting Nigerians to kill their fellow citizens over acts that were committed by criminal elements.
He said the Agency was flagging off a collaborative peace-building initiative with the National Theatre/National Troupe of Nigeria to leverage on the footprint of the Agency and its experience in mass mobilization and behaviour modification.
“This synergy, with the cultural expertise of the National Theatre and the National Troupe of Nigeria, in the area of community theatre, to unfold comprehensive community-oriented peace-building programmes, will be desirable for institutional inter-community dialogue, for peaceful resolution of conflicts and disputes”, Dr Abari said.
He said the initiative which would cover farmers and herdsmen in communities of Nasarawa, Kaduna, Plateau, Taraba, Benue, and Enugu, would come as a community Theatre Drama model aimed at resolving disputes in communities.
“We will be working with local Fulani Pastoral Herder communities and local farming communities in Nasarawa, Kaduna, Plateau, Taraba, Benue and Enugu States, using the Sharing The Green Grass community theatre drama model and advocating for common grounds which emphasizes non-adversarial resolution of conflicts and disputes in communities.
“This tested model which is community-based, involving direct intervention in mediating actual herders and farmers dialogue in the target States, will introduce an interpersonal dimension, also using community theatre to find common grounds, that will use the common creative artistic expression.
“We recognize the fact that apart from the main adversarial actors in the Fulani Pastoral herders/farmers clashes, there are elites on both sides who are rendering divisive narratives to invite members of the public against each other, on tribal and religious grounds.
“We will be working together with these groups to change the present belligerence towards avoidable violence, hence the use of moderate counter-narratives of peaceful dialogue, which will expose criminal elements who instigate and perpetuate these criminal acts. Law enforcement agents would as expected be proactive in arresting and sanctioning criminal elements in these communities”.
The DG said the initiative was also aimed to build confidence between the communities; provide the platform for a new kind of emphatic engagement between and among the people of the same geographical areas.
In his address, the Artistic Director/CEO of National Theatre/ National Troupe of Nigeria, Comrade Tar Ukoh said ” our programme is called Sharing the Green Grass, we are dealing with agriculturalists, remember that the Fulani pastoral herders are Nigerians, we are dealing with not just an ethnic stock, we are dealing with social categorization”.
He explained that the Fulani herders are different from the people of Fulani ethnic Nationality, the Nomad is the herder, he is the person we are dealing with, that herder margrave from one part of Africa to another part of Africa. They are of two categories, we have those who transit through Nigeria in the yearly migrations from one spot in Africa to another, taking care of their cattle, we have others who are indigenous to Nigeria, those who travelled and settled in Nigeria.