Local University Bringing Peace to Unstable Corner of Nigeria

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The Adamawa Peace Initiative (API) released a statement today condemning the recent violence and attacks in Madagali in Adamawa State and other parts of Nigeria, Adamawa State is one of three northeastern states in a declared state of emergency due to frequent deadly attacks by the Islamic militant group Boko Haram. API, launched by the American University of Nigeria and community leaders, brings academic, religious and community leaders together to foster peace and reconciliation through education, IT training and entrepreneurship, empowerment and community development.

Today, following a two hour emergency meeting, the Adamawa Peace Initiative released the following statement addressing the increased violence in Nigeria. Signed by Hamidu Arabo Usman, JIBWIS Jamaatu Izalatul Biiia wa Iqamatis-su-nnah; Reverand Taparki, CAN Chairman Adamawa State and Dr. Margee Ensign, API Chairperson and President of the American University of Nigeria President, the statement reads:

“The members of the Adamawa Peace Initiative express our deepest concern for the recent attacks in Madagali and other parts of the country, which led to loss of life and property.

“We commiserate with the victims and the families of those affected and condemn the violence.

“We urge the government to intensify their efforts to protect all citizens of Nigeria and we appeal to the perpetrators to lay down their arms and find peaceful methods to resolve conflict.”

In a standoff between the Nigerian national government and the insurgent Boko Haram Islamic militants, the American University of Nigeria is taking the lead in trying to ensure peace to this impoverished and embattled area just south of the Sahara Desert.

As AUN’s President, Dr. Margee Ensign, noted, “Peace, like war, comes from the heart and the mind. Both heart and mind can learn: it is up to us to decide what lessons we will teach. Here at the American University of Nigeria, in the midst of a state of emergency, we are teaching the lessons of peace.”

One of the poorest areas of Nigeria, three northeastern states, including Adamawa, have been in a declared in a state of emergency since May 2013. In the state capital, Yola, the population is evenly divided between Christians and Muslims, and boasts a long history of peaceful interaction between the two groups. In recent months, there have been multiple incidents of violence in northeastern Nigeria. According to Associated Press, the latest attack by gunmen who ransacked Sabon Garin Yamdula village of the Madagali area of Adamawa state and killed a pastor came less than a week after at least 45 perished in an attack in Wada Chakawa village of the same area. Nearly 200 were killed in January alone in attacks in and around Maiduguri in the neighboring state of Borno.

The Adamawa Peace Initiative (API) was launched in 2012 by AUN and local community leaders. The API consists of religious, academic and community leaders in Yola and other parts of Adawama State who are committed to living in peace and harmony. With programs aimed at fostering peace through education, IT training and entrepreneurship, empowerment and community development, this partnership brought the academic leaders of AUN and the religious and community leaders of API together to create a unified peace and reconciliation strategy that has had a broad impact.

“AUN has developed a strong and enduring relationship with the members of our community. Most important, we try to create an atmosphere of mutual respect for the beliefs and aspirations of all parties. If we understand one another, we can live with one another peacefully,” Dr. Ensign continued.

AUN and API have approached the peace building process with three main focuses: inter-faith and cross-cultural communication, economic development, and education.

While there is still a long way to go, AUN and API have demonstrated that even in the most difficult circumstances, community development, robust communication, and empowerment programs can work, and do work. Yola has escaped the violence plaguing much of the region, but attacks are escalating in the state. This locally developed peace initiative has already seen cooperation and progress emerge.

“Our goal is that API could serve as a model for similar efforts far beyond the borders of Adamawa State and Nigeria,” President Ensign stated. “People can decide to make peace, just as they decide to make war. It is wonderful to live in a community which, in spite of all its many challenges, has decided to make peace.”

About the American University of Nigeria

The American University of Nigeria was established in 2003 by Nigeria’s former Vice President, His Excellency Atiku Abubakar. Conceived as Africa’s first Development University, its mission is to promote service learning and to educate leaders who will be prepared to tackle the development issues of Nigeria and Africa. The university offers an American-style education modeled after the curriculum of American universities, using the latest in Internet technology and e-learning resources.

About the Adamawa Peace Initiative

The Adamawa Peace Initiative was formed in 2012 to respond to the threat of violence and growing unrest. With various projects, including “the Peacemakers” television show, an annual Peace Day, “Peace Through Sports” tournament, Peace Lecture Series, IT training and literacy programs, and a Grand Alliance for Employment, API and AUN aim to foster peace through education, empowerment and community development. This partnership, which brought the academic leaders of AUN and the religious and community leaders of API together to create a unified peace and reconciliation strategy, has already had a broad impact.

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Conover + Gould Strategic Communications is sending this information on behalf of the American University of Nigeria. Additional information is on file with the Department of Justice, Washington, District of Columbia.

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Greg Howard
Conover + Gould Strategic Communications
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