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THE NATION

Shun violence, avert conflicts, AREF boss urges Nigerians

BY ASMA’U BAIKIE, ANGELA NKWO

NIGERIANS have been urged to eschew violence and always ensure peace and justice in their daily activities, to avert conflicts that could turn citizens into refugees in their own country.

Nigeria’s former Ambassador to Ethiopia, and founder of African Refugees Foundation (AREF), Segun Olusola, who made the call while addressing reporters on AREF’s 10th anniversary coming up on September 1, said peace could not be exchanged for anything in the whole world.

“Without peace, it is impossible for any meaningful development to take place in a nation, no matter how good the leaders are,” he said.

According to him, it is better for us to dialogue before any conflict arises. “For us in Nigeria, it is better to dialogue, sit down to discuss and make peace, rather than to fight wars because you can never tell who will win a war”, he said.

Citing the care of Ife and Modakeke as well as the continuous communal clashes in Warri, Olusola said if peaceful co-existence was not encouraged among the people it could lead to something bigger that could not be easily handled.

Speaking on the on-going projects of AREF in the propagation of peace in the country, Olusola said they were aimed at the country’s youths and children.

According to him: “We are now concentrating on peace education at the primary level, as well as the youth. It is not that we have given up on the elders, but we believe that it is important to inculcate into their young minds that there is no alternative to the way of peace. We think if children are brought up to think that way, we will have low level of conflict.”

While stressing that AREF had assisted in settling, rehabilitating and re-integrating refugees across the continent, Olusola pointed out that the foundation had also played a prominent role in sensitising local and international authorities to the root cause and prevention of refugee problems in Africa.