As Nigeria strives for lasting peace and stability, a unique summit which brought together youth leaders, academics, policy and decision-makers, religious and traditional leaders, as well as other key stakeholders to amplify the voices and contributions of youth in conflict mitigation and peacebuilding processes was held in Abuja on 31 January, 2024.
The National Youth Peace and Security Summit which was organised by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) in collaboration with Mercy Corps, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Community Initiatives to Promote Peace (CIPP) aimed at Strengthening peacebuilding efforts; building sustainable partnerships and amplifying youth voices in Nigeria.
The high-level event marks a pivotal moment in recognising the crucial role young people play in building a more peaceful, safe, and secure future. It showcased learnings and best practices from CIPP’s investment and achievements towards youth participation and leadership in peace processes across six northern states of Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Benue, Kogi, and Plateau.
It could be recalled that in recent years, some parts of the country, particularly the North West and North Central regions have been plagued with youth restiveness, complicated by recurrent violent conflict and insecurity mostly attributed to the growing influence of non-state armed groups, including violent extremist groups and a myriad of development challenges.
With this initiative, 24 youth peace networks and 91 youth groups across 24 local governments in the 6 states have been established to facilitate collaboration among youth groups in leading peace initiatives.
Speaking at the Summit, the National Coordinator, National Counter Terrorism Centre, Office of the National Security Adviser, Rear Admiral Yaminu Musa (rtd), noted that empowering young leaders was an investment in the nation’s security and development; “this National Youth Peace and Security Summit is therefore a crucial step towards harnessing the potential of young people and building a more peaceful and just Nigeria,” he said
“Youth restiveness poses a serious problem to peace and development and there is a need for collective actions to curb this menace.” the National Coordinator added.
Also in his remarks, the Chief of Party, Community Initiatives to Promote Peace (CIPP), Sani Suleiman said meaningful youth participation was essential for achieving lasting peace. Adding that, “this summit provides a vital platform to showcase young people’s contributions to peace and security efforts and foster collaborative efforts for a brighter future.”
Similarly, Country Director of Mercy Corps Nigeria, Ndubisi Anyanwu who stated that youth were not only the inheritors of the future but also active architects of peace in the present, added that “the National Youth Peace and Security Summit is a testament to the dedication and capacity of young Nigerians to drive positive change and build a more peaceful and prosperous society for all.”
Participants at the event include Executive Governors, Honourable Ministers, senior officials representing Government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), UN Agencies, USAID, International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), members of CIPP’s Youth Peace Networks, Youth Researchers and Youth Parliament, National Youth Council, and Children’s Parliament.