Participants at graduation of peer mediators at the primary and junior secondary school levels in Abuja.
By Patricia Amogu
A legal practitioner and mediation expert, Mr Chijoke Nnanna-Ibeku, says mediation can replace the law courts in the resolution of conflicts in Nigeria if the necessary structures are put in place for it to thrive.
Nnanna-Ibeku stated this, while speaking at a ceremony organised for the graduation of peer mediators at the primary and junior secondary school levels in Abuja.
“Sooner than later, mediation will no longer be an alternative but the main thrust for the resolution of conflicts in Nigeria.
“This is the second time we are graduating these children.
“The idea is to imbibe the culture of mediation among children as much as possible – children who will become future leaders; who will hold political offices, and change the narrative of conflict resolution in Nigeria.
“I always say that in a class of 60 students who have undergone the peer mediation training, at least three to ten of them will imbibe this training and make it a normal practice in their lives,” he said.
He said filling up the gaps left in the wake of resolving conflicts along ethnic, religion, cultural, and political diversities is a major focus of the programme.
According to him, that will go a long way towards bringing peace and reducing conflicts to the minimum.
“We have in our template to certify 240 children as Peer Mediators this year .
“This will be achieved every quarter by certifying 60 children as peer mediators.
Mrs Margaret Ibeku, Co-ordinator, Three C’s met Mediators, said the training was organised to preach the language of peace and create a generational change among children, so that peace becomes the language.
“It is worrisome to see kids of about 10, 11 years of age fighting along tribal lines.
“We felt the best way is to get these young minds to begin a generational change.
“Firstly, preaching the language of peace, mediating in their families.schools, and communities, and as they grow up, they will continue to take it to the outer world.
“Right now, we are working with all the government schools in the FCT,” she said.
Mr Munsir Sule, an architect who is the Director of Physical Planning and Project Monitoring, described the training as a laudable one, and one of great interest to the board.
He said the programme was apt and timely.
Speaking on behalf of the chairman, Dr Alhassan Sule urged the children to imbibe the culture of peer mediation which they have been trained on and see the beauty in diversity.
“It is a laudable programme, and it brings better understanding among peers. They should see further than the issue of citizenry.
“It is cheaper than going to the courts. We are still going to train the teachers on this for them to better impact on the children,” he added.
Highpoints of the day was the award of certificates to the students and parents.
There were dance competitions and the staging of drama by some of the children.
The News Agency of NIgeria (NAN) reports that Three Cs Met International Institute Of Mediation Negotiation Counseling and Conciliation organised the training. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Emmanuel Yashim