We can tackle secession agitation in SE – peace institute
By Millicent Onaga, Enugu
As crisis borne out of agitations for self-determination by various ethnic groups in the country continues unabated, the Institute for Peace, Conflict and Development Studies, (IPCDS) Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT), has declared that it has the capacity to address the issue in South- East Nigeria, if given the mandate.
It noted that the clamour for secession, as being championed in the region by some groups, particularly the Nnamdi Kanu-led proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, “is becoming more and more serious on daily basis.
Speaking to newsmen at the weekend in Enugu at the end of her orientation exercise for its 2020/2021 academic session of course participants/students, director of the institute, Professor Felix Asogwa, posited that no matter what the bone of contentions may be, peace remains the only panacea for development in Nigeria.
According to him, no nation, whether developed or developing, can get to its expected destination under an atmosphere of disunity, rancour, or conflict hence, the need for all warring groups in Nigeria to lay down their arms and embrace peace which has no alternative.
“As an institute that propagates culture of peace among communities, if supported, and given the mandate, we have the capacity and manpower to engage the agitating South East youths, particularly the high and low members of IPOB who are mostly youths.
“We have all it takes to find out what are the fundamental issues that are propelling the agitation. Like I said, if mandated, we will first of all carry out a thorough investigation on what the core and cardinal issues that led to the agitation are.
“Why it requires thorough investigation is because the real cause of the problem that led to the agitation may not be what we are seeing in the surface.
Asogwa, disclosed that the institute, since inception in 2018, had waded into several tough local conflicts which it resolved amicably. These include the Oruku/Umuode communal clash in Enugu state which lingered for several years before it was settled via the adoption of the institute’s recommendations to the state government.
“We handled the Oruku/Omuode crisis which was almost becoming an intractable conflict, so we can do same in the issue of agitation for self-determination by members of IPOB and other groups in South East Nigeria.
Before the director addressed the intending postgraduate students/participants, a lecturer and head of academic planning in the institute, Chiedozie Nwafor, had earlier got them acquainted with the rules and regulations governing the programme.
Asogwa, addressing the students said: “you must appreciate the fact that you came to this institute for two reasons, number one, you are here to acquire the academic knowledge that will enable you become a peace advocate on graduation.
“Secondly, you must also appreciate the fact that you are here to gain practical experience about the issue of peace building, peace advocacy, conflict management and the rest of them, stressing that the institute was committed to ensuring that students graduate at the expected records time.