Cultivating Sustainable Peace and Dialogue via Youth Empowerment and the Good Friday Agreement 1998

By Paul Elebute


The term ‘youth’ generally is defined by age as occupying the transitional stage between childhood and adulthood. The UN Security Council Resolution 2250 without prejudice to national and regional variations defines youth as persons between the ages 18-29. Exactly December 20, 2015, the UN outgoing Secretary General, Ban ki Moon while presenting the ‘Plan of Action to prevent violent extremism’ described youth as an ‘untapped resource’ that must be empowered to make positive contributions to the development of their nations.


The global peace index of Nigeria so far has been fluctuating with year 2014 value rated to be 2.71, 2015 to be 2.91 falling down to 2.88 in 2016 and in 2017, has become so low rated at 2.85. At the moment, Nigeria ranks 15th in term of enjoyment of relative peace worldwide. Conversely, on the global terrorism index, Nigeria went from 8.58 index in 2014 to 9.31 index in 2016 growing at an alarming rate of 4.24%. Lately, President Buhari described Nigerian youths as lazy. But, the government is expected to provide a suitable environment for we talk of sustainable peace. Development economists have well posited that humans are the greatest resources that are in the world. The UN has called the attention of the world to the fact that more than 600 million young people live in fragile and conflict affected societies. Youths are considered to be arguably the most affected; either as victims or as perpetrators of the myriad of violent conflicts in the world today. This minimalist interpretation has contributed in securitizing them as a rising threat to global peace and security.

Ejiogu, ambassador for Youth for Development, a UNESCO NGO at the World Programme of Action for Youth, advised youths who indulge in criminal activities and other clandestine behaviour to retrace their steps and imbibe positive life style. Notable observations regarding the security climate in Nigeria are that - The socio-political and economic foundation for the Nigerian state from the outset has largely failed. Institutional mechanisms vis-à-vis conflict resolution and prevention are greatly deficient. In the light of the emerging civilisation, Nigeria is yet to develop the requisite technological outfit to combat insecurity; security agencies lack needed motivation and equipment. Loss of jobs is on the rise due to ill-monitored privitisation programs leading to unemployment of resourceful youths. Again, the response of the government to security matters and uprisings have been acutely passive and treated with a political attitude.

The Ireland Episode Against the Nigerian Background

Though the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria obligates the government with respect to socio-economic and political welfare of the citizenry it must be noted however that this is non-justiciable and as such it is apparent that the government is not duty-bound to provide and protect the fundamental wellbeing of the Nigerian public in terms of security and peace. Irish and British histories have been linked for over 800 years. Colonial aspirations and security risks of Great Britain and the cultural resilience and strength of Ireland clashed at many times throughout the past eight centuries, reaching a crescendo of 300 years; soon after the defeat of the Spanish Armanda and subsequent British colonial rule of the island of Ireland took place. The corollary to the Agreement at Belfast, two decades ago, points us to the truth that democracy and good governance – the soul of stable security can only be achieved when the government decides to engender popular interests and the volkgeist into policy formulation.

Hard-Core Solutions

The prime issues of resource mobilization, allocation and control by the government of the day must be attended to this whilst considering the development challenges of corruption, unemployment, illiteracy. The mandatory UN 26% budgetary allocation for education must be effected at once. Nobel Peace prize winner, Malala Yousafzai has spoken well that in confronting conflicts, “You must fight others, but through peace, and through dialogue, and through education”. Whilst not gagging the fourth realm, the reportage of issues by the press should be leveraged on the key issues of fairness, objectivity and balance.

Youth interests and empowerment is should be keenly treated as core. The present crop of leaders needs to begin to model themselves as patriots of an all-inclusive and selfless leadership. Leaders like Mandela, Martin Luther, Mother Theresa, Ghandi, Awolowo all took it upon themselves to lend their lives as torches to lit the path for the up and coming generation. Dialogue is yet the best tool to combating crises. The Nigerian government appears to be poise about this especially in the wake of herdsmen killings and communal brutality. To Pope Benedict XIV, in an ever more open world, building peace through dialogue is no longer a choice but a necessity! Obama trod the path of dialogue when he declared that America “shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program without firing a shot”.

Religious indifference has brought great plague upon country and country people. It is urged that all Nigerian leaders should emulate the exemplary role of Father Bernard Kinvi. Here the Father Kinvi’s story goes! When the Seleka escaped Bossemptele – thieving Kinvi’s prized car with them – the anti-balaka flounced into the North-Western town, decimating 80 Muslims in the process. Kinvi responded to the threat by opening the doors of the mission to horrified Muslims and searching for those tucked away into the bush. At a point, about 1,500 Muslims were living under the guard of a man whose only sources of influence were his faith and the black cassock with a large red cross on the chest which he puts on as member of the Camellia order. For the next few months, Kinvi barely slept, terrified that if he closed his eyes the militia would fulfill their threats to murder all the Muslims in the mission. The tale is likewise told of an Imam that hid fleeing refugees in Northern Nigeria in the heat of the Fulani herdsmen brouhaha; most of them Christians in the Mosque.

Youths are in fact the foundation of peace-keeping. Mahatma Gandhi insisted “If we are to reach real peace in this world… we shall have to begin with children.” If we have no peace it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other – Mother Theresa. Ditto, Mahatma Gandhi rightly confesses “The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace.”  Morals about tolerance and selflessness should be encouraged in the open. Little acts of heroism should be celebrated and politics disincentivised. Inclusiveness and a balance of interest in key matters should be exercised. This is principally so because it is when many feel excluded that they begin to nurse unnoticed grudges that escalate into large scale conflicts on the long run. Notable human rights activist, Hafsat Abiola, should be agreed with when he enlightened thus: “Peace comes from being able to contribute the best that we have, and all that we are, toward creating a world that supports everyone. But it is also securing the space for others to contribute the best that they have and all that they are.”

Brian Tracy reveals that knowledge, skills and talent are sure breakthrough channels in the 21st century. We covet empowerment and skills acquisition programs garnished with entrepreneurial incentives. Truly, as Chandrika Kumarantunga rightly reasons: “Peace can only be acquired through economic development to eliminate poverty and despair and through dialogue and understanding”.


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  • Seamus Duffy, A Critical Analysis of the Good Friday Agreement, Assignment Submitted in fulfillment of the Societies in Transition course to Module Coordinator during the 2nd semester of Masters in Humanitarian Action Programme 2007/2008, UCD School of Biological Science
  • Available at Scribd, accessed on April 20, 2018.
  • Brian Tracy, “No Excuses”
  • Obama’s Farewell Speech.
  • The Good Friday Agreement 1998
  • Elebute Paul, CIPMN Essay Competition 2017. “Stemming the Surge of Security Challenges in Nigeria: Need for Collective Efforts”.

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