Remarks by Malam Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, at the inauguration of the Kaduna State Peace Commission; held at Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, Kaduna on Thursday, 2nd November 2017
I am delighted to welcome everyone to this momentous event. Today is another significant step in our march towards rejecting the legacy of violent conflict that has marred our state for almost four decades. As strife tore apart the harmony that had made our state such a magnet for every Nigerian, the commissions of inquiry and committees established to study each instance of conflict began to recommend the setting up of a Peace Commission. Today, we answer this earnest plea by inaugurating the Peace Commission.
Ladies and Gentlemen, you will recall that about this time last year, violence was tearing apart some of our communities in southern Kaduna. Criminal acts of murder and reprisals triggered human suffering; which certain elite circles seized as opportunity to unleash an unwelcome talent for hate speech, incitement and outright lies.
This regrettable episode has now been contained, with the assistance of the security assets of the Federal Government, funded by the Kaduna State Government. The return to normalcy was considerably aided by the efforts of persons of goodwill who saw in conflict, not an opportunity for profit and self-aggrandizement, but a responsibility to urgently end human misery, and lay the basis for restoring communities torn apart by narrowmindedness and impunity.
Since 1981, really shameful things, including murder, arson, ethnic and religious cleansing and the displacement of communities, have happened in this state. But we insist that the violent conflict that has hobbled Kaduna State shall not be the destiny of the state. We owe it to the victims to say never again, to try to establish mechanisms to proactively manage grievance and to insist that impunity shall have no place, that all persons and communities must employ only peaceful means to resolve differences.
The Peace Commission is charged to help drive this commitment towards sustained peace and harmony. But it is not intended to be an organization with perpetuity. A state that wishes to consign violent conflict to the past only undermines that vision by giving a permanent status to its Peace Commission.
This goal places immense burdens on the leadership of the Peace Commission. On behalf of the Kaduna State Government, I wish to place on record our appreciation to Reverend Dr. Josiah Idowu-Fearon, former Anglican Bishop of Kaduna, for accepting to chair the Peace Commission. Dr. Idowu-Fearon has profoundly demonstrated his love for Kaduna and his abiding concern that religion, which connotes obedience to God and love of one’s neighbours, should stop being an excuse to play God and decide who is fit to live on this planet. I have no doubt that even with his responsibilities as the Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion, his intellect, patriotism and experience would once again be fruitfully placed at the service of Kaduna State.
I thank Priscilla Ankut for accepting to serve as the Executive Vice Chairman of the Peace Commission, and Dr. Saleh Basayi Momale and Hajiya Khadija Hawaja Gambo for agreeing to work as Permanent Commissioners.
This government has always argued that the ultimate guarantee of peace is the willingness of people and communities to live in harmony. This Peace Commission will help to stiffen the resolve of those that choose peace and harmony, trusting in the law and its institutions to resolve conflict and uphold rights. Violent conflict is no longer a route for elite figures to wrangle unmerited settlement, but that does not mean all conflict entrepreneurs will stop trying.
Our people and communities have to be assisted to rise above the limitations of identity politics and its fixation on the things that divide. This government believes in a common humanity and upholds the right to citizenship of everyone who lives in the state. This is what can help build talent and unleash the energy of ordinary people to build a society that rewards hard work and merit.
For the sake of our state, the prosperity of its peoples and the development of society, I wish you every success in the new assignment.