BY (Dr) Dickson Akoh, National Commandant, Peace Corps of Nigeria.

Today is International Day of Peace; a day celebrated on the 21st September every year as directed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2002.

This day provides the opportunity for individuals, organizations and nations to create practical acts of peace on this shared date. It was established in 1981 to coincide with the opening of the General Assembly. This year’s celebration yet focus on peace as a fundamental for National Unity, Development and World Progress.

This year, the theme of the International Day of Peace is “The Right to Peace – The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70”. The theme gives a strong notion on the United Nations (UN) setting a strong voice to speak out for the world when others are at risk of doing so.

The UN is devoted to worldwide peace and thus encourage member nations and all of mankind, to work in cooperation for this goal. To mark this day, the UN Secretary General, António Guterres stated that

“It is time all nations and all people live up to the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes the inherent dignity and equal inalienable rights of all members of the human race. This year marks the 70th anniversary of that landmark document.”

The Universal Declaration states in Article 3 that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. These elements build the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. It is also with a goal to demystify Peace-building, and to portray it as the responsibility of all communities and all individuals. International Day of Peace (“Peace Day”) is not just about one day; it is about mobilizing all stakeholders to commit to action that makes peace possible at all times.

Peace Day as declared by the General Assembly should be devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and amongst the peoples of all nations. It is a day of ceasefire; a global day when individuals, communities, nations and governments highlight efforts to end conflict and promote peace.

As Nigeria joins the Global Community to celebrate this year’s UN International Day of Peace, I urge youths and indeed all citizens to become sworn advocates of peace and unity by expunging ethno-religious and socio-political tension. This is in view of the fact that the act of Conflict Prevention and Peace Building, which is the cornerstone of a thriving democracy and sustainable development, involves all-governments, groups and individuals. To this end, there is need for our leaders and indeed Nigerians to be guided by national interest rather than allowing primordial and sectional interest dominate good reasoning.

Since the return of democracy in 1999, the various Governments, groups and well-meaning Nigerians have yearned for peace, realising that Peace is a requisite for sustainable development. Despite good efforts from the Muhammadu Buhari led government and international border support, Nigeria is still circumnavigating around the fixed axis of religious intolerance, socio-political insecurity and economic quagmire. This tragic incidence of kidnapping, cattle rustling, terrorism and youth restiveness have unquestionably taken the nation some steps back in development and search for peaceful co-existence.

As Nigeria navigates into the timeline of an Electioneering campaign in 2019, goodwill and national interest must hold sway over selfish interests. The electorate holds the key to effective and appropriate elective processes debarred of conflict and irregularities. Should every man upholds good morals; engender peace and conscientiously support decent electoral processes, we shall again, witness an election not shredded with bloodshed and unending legal suet. I am therefore using this medium to call on His Excellency, President, Muhammadu Buhari. In the interest of National Character, Peace and Prosperity, let there be a truce for our Secret Ballot System: non-coercive voting; transparent collating and true return of Polling outcome. Should we uphold fairness and peace, our country would be a better place for citizens and foreigners to coexist and flourish in business.

As the Peace Corps of Nigeria joins the very many Peace Advocacy Organisations and indeed, millions of people across the world, to celebrate this unique day, I once again, urge us to pause and reflect on the words of great advocate of non-violence,Mahatma Ghandi who said “an eye for an eye would only make the whole world go blind.” this is a challenge to all individuals, communities, nations and governments to embrace genuine forgiveness and reconciliation. Peace Corps of Nigeria is of the view that only in a peaceful environment will young people realize their full potentials. Young people have that potential to start building a peaceful world today. This peace is absolute for youth development; undeniable for survival and a prerequisite for humanity.

Ambassador Dickson A. O. Akoh, FCITr, FCPA, FNSIS
National Commandant