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Youth activists in the Nadowli-Kaleo District have been engaged on violent extremism and peace-building mechanisms workshop, aimed at empowering them to guard against being used as tools to perpetuate violence in society.
The workshop, organised by the Nadowli-Kaleo District Directorate of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), with funding support from the European Union (EU), was attended by 31 participants comprising 19 males and 12 females from various political, religious and other youth organisations in the district.
Speaking during the engagement, the Reverend Father Alexander Bedekuru of the McCoy College of Education in Nadowli, noted that there were no gains in acts of extreme violence, and therefore encouraged participants to appreciate their uniqueness in diversity as a tool to propel growth and development.
He cautioned the youth to be wary of the “wolves in sheep clothing” in their communities, who pretended to empathise with them with the hidden objective of using them to achieve their personal objectives through violent means.
Rev. Fr. Bedekuru further encouraged the youth to resist the temptation of being used by the so called “big men” to perpetuate acts of extreme violence on others for their egoistic interest.
He advised the youth not to get involved in land and chieftaincy disputes, but must rather channel their energies into activities that would not jeopardize their future.
He admonished the youth to desist from hate-speech, discriminatory and ethnocentric behaviours, since these did not offer fertile grounds for national cohesion but rather disintegrate society.
Rev. Fr. Bedekuru explained that the effect of negative conflict could pose dire consequences to the development of the District, and therefore admonished the youth to abandon behaviours that did not open doors of opportunities for the youth and the society at large.
He added that there were a lot of natural resources in the country and encouraged them to focus on finding ways to exploit these resources in an environmentally friendly manner.
On peace building mechanisms in the District, Rev. Fr. Bedekuru indicated that Alternative Disputes Resolution (ADR) mechanisms had over the years proven to be very relevant in resolving long standing disputes in the country.
He therefore urged participants to advocate for and make use of the ADR systems in addressing their differences in times of conflict.
Rev. Fr. Bedekuru further indicated that the foreign dispute resolution mechanisms which emphasised on dialogue, lobbying, negotiation, mediation and arbitration have not been very successful in most cases in resolving disputes between parties, and therefore urged the youth to rely on home-grown mechanisms in resolving their misunderstandings or differences.
He was of the view that long-lived unresolved differences in their communities were as a result of contending party’s failure to use the ADR mechanism that existed in their various homes, clans, society and national level.
Ms. Patience Sally Kumah, the Upper West Regional Director of the NCCE, noted that Nadowli-Kaleo District was one of the border districts in the region and that its location made it susceptible to the influx of other groups of persons from the sub-region.
She therefore encouraged participants to be alert in reporting suspicious characters in their communities who may want to use terrorist attacks in resolving their problems.
She also explained that activities of terrorists could only flourish if the youth give in to be recruited by terrorist group, therefore encouraging them to exercise restraint in the way they use the internet and the kind of people they communicated with or associate with in their daily lives.
Madam Sally Kumah reminded participants of their resolution to ensure peaceful co-existence and national cohesion by making reference to Article 41 (c) and (d) which have enjoined every citizen in the country the duty to foster national unity, respect the legitimate interest of others and to refrain from acts that were detrimental to the welfare of others.
Mr Tambile Der Emmanuel, the Nadowli-Kaleo District Director of the NCCE, stated that the youth activists’ engagement was geared towards equipping the citizenry with the relevant information on violent extremism and radicalism.
Mr Tambile after screening some videos to highlight the devastating impact of violent extremism, entreated participants to be vigilant in their communities, and report all suspicious characters to the law enforcement agencies.
He also encouraged them to desist from taking the law into their own hands in order to help reduce the perpetuation of violent extremism in their communities.