By Hamza Ibrahim Chinade.
Curbing Hate and Dangerous in Nigeria especially on social media is a project that Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) carries out, the project has components such as Monitoring and Countering, Forming Students for Peace Associations or Peace Clubs in tertiary institutions and secondary schools, Public Sensitization, Peace Competition etc. As the year 2017 began, the organization draws participants from Peace Ambassadors, Peace Advisers, Members of Students for Peace Associations and the media to review the challenges, share experiences, interact, explore new opportunities and the way forward towards strengthening the campaign against Hate Speech and peace propagation. The event holds at Oasis Hotel in Damaturu, the Yobe state capital.
During the evaluation meeting three presentations were facilitated by different presenters thus: What Has Been Done So far, Focus on Students for Peace (S4Ps): What Can We Do to Improve the Effectiveness of Peace Clubs and Curbing Hate Speech in Nigeria: How Do We Make the Campaign More Effective? The participants engaged in a General Discussion on the Implementation of the Project session where they brainstormed and deliberated on issues, problems, challenges and success stories around the project.
Some of the peace ambassadors and leaders of students for peace shared varied challenges and success stories as can be seen: we have strengthened our peace club with lectures to the students on social media particularly Facebook and Twitter, how they can campaign for peace, help resolve disagreements, our ICT center that the students use during training is not fully functional-Peace Adviser GSS Gulani. Our peace club has been functional, it normally organizes drama on peace from time to time with invitation to neighbouring schools in attendance, we equally came up with a periodic calendar that is peace based, in essence, our peace club preaches peace in a drama form-GSSS Kofar Nasarawa Peace Ambassador.
Part of the challenges we face at Bayero Univerty Kano Students for Peace is that the Students Union Government regard us as their opposition because of the increasing number of students joining the association, as the university resumes for the 20172018 session we embarked on a free registration for new and returning students with support from CITAD, again BUK-S4P raised money to pay for the registration of three indigent students, we are going to hold what we called “Peace Summit” where we scheduled to invite religious leaders from both Islam and Christianity also from within and outside the university to further sensitize students on peace, we also want to expand the horizon of the association to accommodate more Christians and traditional religious followers because at the moment most members are Muslims, there is an outreach we developed that will be mentoring students of secondary schools on peace and how they can find peace clubs when they get to higher institutions, we will start this shortly with Kofar Nasarawa Secondary School-leader of BUK-S4P. Peace Club in my school has made a lot of impacts on our students, now we don’t witness quarrel among students, a student once admitted to me that she used to be trouble maker but the peace club has transformed her to even becoming a mediator whenever there is misunderstanding among students. The impact is not only on students, I can say it also has impact on the teachers themselves, as a teacher I also used to be a hot-tempered person, whoever approaches me with a trouble I react aggressively and instantly whether I will regret it later, but coordinating peace club has made me more tolerant and understanding-Peace Ambassador of Government Girls Secondary School Bauchi, Bauchi state. We used to experience crisis between the school cadet members and prefects almost on frequent basis but the introduction of peace club now serves as the crisis resolving ground, because of the continuous mediation of the peace club members, we don’t witness crises anymore-Peace Ambassador of Commercial Secondary School Dutse, Jigawa state. In Government Secondary School Damaturu we sensitize our students on Hate Speech and Peace because our school was affected by Boko Haram insurgency, and created a Facebook account where our students post peace messages, we offer our students free data in the school computer center to post peace messages. The Hate Speech and Peace propagation issue really demands the support of the media, and I will discuss with the management of Yobe Radio Corporation as a correspondent to facilitate amplifying the voices of the peace clubs. Even though S4P is not officially commissioned in my school but I learned the membership keeps increasing every time we meet-Students for Peace member, Aminu Saleh College of Education Azare.
Giving a closing remark, Executive Director of the Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) Dr. Yunusa Zakari Ya’u observed that peace initiative is a self benefitting initiative because without peace there can be no development as such striving for peace should be a collective commitment, he appreciated the commitment of both teachers and students for making sacrifices towards peace. Ya’u said “we combine peacemaking with entrepreneurship skills so that the students will be more marketable and excel better in their various endeavours”.