As an NGO in Peace Education and Practice, our major concern is in tackling those social factors militating against peaceful coexistence of people in our communities.

We invite all and sundry to join us in fighting the causes of conflicts in our society.

Through our studies and research, we have identified serious nexus between poverty and conflict. While poverty causes conflict, conflict perpetuates poverty. Many conflict theatres we have today will go a long way to prove our points. These conflict situations have both economic and social impacts in our society.

Obviously, people become aware of these conflict situations when they are full blown and manifest in our society. However, every conflict has a latent stage; a developmental stage, a stage before its manifestation. Therefore, any preventive mechanism or establishment of early warning signs should take place at the latent stage, because that’s where the conditions become ripe for the full manifestations of the conflict.

Our focus, therefore, is mainly on how poverty influences the manifestation of conflicts, both on inter-personal and community level. We are going to work in combating poverty as one of the root causes of conflict. This would be done in many ways through fighting some social injustices that give rise to poverty and other factors of conflict. Hence, our programme starts with a general campaign against some social factors breeding/perpetuating poverty.

In our society, there are numerous practices that create inter-personal conflict; which have economic/social effects. They include the following:
1.       Thuggery
2.      Child-hawking
3.      Apprenticeship
Most of these social practices are being sponsored by the one common problem facing the country; unemployment/joblessness. They are so related that there is no way you can tackle one in isolation, without influencing/affecting the others. The reason is that they form a kind of nexus that seems to be symbiotic in nature, whereby one gives rise to the other and vice-versa. Inasmuch as one can explain them either dependently or independently, they have the same underlying/motivating factor, which could be referred to as the root cause; Poverty.

However, we have identified a mode of operation, which will help us focus on achieving our goal within the framework of our activities, which includes Peace Education and Peace Practice. Our major focus, therefore would be on combating the menace of thuggery, because it seems to be the bone of all others.

Our Campaign, therefore, has a starting/convergence point which we are going to illustrate with our concept story.

Our Concept Story (The Scenario)
Mr. Obi has no gainful employment. He is a labourer who goes from place to place seeking for menial works to do for people with some charges. He happened to marry Nneka, a petty trader in Oye Market in Uga. They gave birth to five (5) children; three (3) boys (Nnamdi, Ugochukwu and Emeka) and two (2) girls (Nkechi and Chioma). These children use to hawk some items like pure water, vegetables, snacks etc., for their mother after school and on weekends. This is how they were sustaining their living.

When Nnamdi finished primary school at the age of eleven (11), he was sent to serve a well-known trader (Mr. Adinu) from their town, who plies his trade in Onitsha main market. The agreement (oral) was that Nnamdi will serve the man as an apprentice for six (6) years and learn the trade at the process. At the end of the service years, Mr. Adinu was supposed to settle Nnamdi so that he goes and starts a trade of his own. Likewise, Mr. Obi sent the third son, Emeka, to Mr. Chuma (a trader at Lagos) on the same agreement before Emeka could finish primary 4. On the other hand, he sent Nkechi out to one Mrs Njideka also living in Lagos as a house girl, with no agreement. He (Mr. Obi) and the wife were left with two (2) children, Ugochukwu and Chioma who continued their primary education. They combined it with hawking some food items and fruits for their mother. This was the situation under which these five (5) children grew up.

Now the problem started when, after 6 years, Mr. Adinu did not settle Nnamdi as was agreed. The reason was that the market has turned bad. He demanded that Nnamdi will stay with him for the next two (2) years to see if things will change. After staying for about 19 months (1 year and seven months), Nnamdi, seeing that the situation is not getting any better, decided to go back home to his parents and look for another alternative. Since the parents could not afford giving him money to start a business, he decided to learn welding at their village. On the other hand, after five years of serving him, Emeka was sent home by his master, Mr. Chuma on the accusation that Emeka was stealing his money. Years on, Nkechi was sent home to her parents, when she finished secondary school. The reason given by her madam was that she could not afford to train Nkechi in the University. So this means that none of the three children was settled substantially to enable them have a solid footing in life; neither could their parents be of any further help.

This scenario could cause conflict either directly or indirectly. In all the cases above, there are clear denial of justice, which is indisputably a serious cause of conflict. If, for instance, Mr. Obi confronts any of the Masters of his children or decides to take laws into his hands, or even take legal actions against them, serious issues will lead to conflict. On the other hand, the resultant effect of this scenario is that the five (5) children have no viable means of survival. They will rather perpetuate the same poverty they were born into. Due to frustration, they could further become nuisance to the community in many ways thereby becoming agents of civil unrest. In the case of the 3 sons of Mr. Obi, they could end up being thugs causing menace in the society. Think about the girls hawking with their mother. They are seriously susceptible to several social vices as several instances have shown. 

Scenario Building
From our working scenario, something is very outstanding and this is the issue of injustice meted out to the two sons of Mr. Obi. Their respective masters left them empty handed after serving them for 8 and 4 years respectively without any settlement as agreed. In the first case involving Nnamdi, the reason was that market has changed; while in the case of Emeka, he was accused of stealing from his master. This is also the case with the daughter, Nkechi, who served her madam for twelve (12) years but at the end, she could not be granted higher education nor any other means of survival. It is a common form of social injustice plaguing Nigeria predominantly affecting the Igbos and the reasons are obvious.

The reason this situation is very dangerous in Nigeria especially to South Easterners is because such is prevalent amongst traders. South Easterners are predominantly traders. We must recall that each of these South Eastern traders who are bosses today were servants and apprentices sometimes in the past and were able to graduate to owning their own businesses. Now, it is a logical argument to state that there has been a sharp decline in the rate of graduating servants or apprentices who go from being servants to being bosses because of the fact that there is no binding framework to protect this group of people. Hence, most of them end up as thugs in our streets, parks and markets. 

Even the graduating servants in recent times cannot boast to have good enough start-up capital to weather the tough Nigerian economic climate today. The survival rate of business start-up by newly settled servants/apprentices can be said to be below 15% at best. This is really a very shocking statistics for Nigerian economy and for Ndigbo in particular as poverty is being perpetuated. We are already seeing the effects of this phenomenon in all parts of the country as the rich will continue to grow disproportionately richer while the poor will continue to become poorer.

As a way of intervening into this social factors, which negates peaceful coexistence and harmonious growth, our campaign goes through the following methodical process: 

  1. Identifying each problem to tackle at every point in time and determining how they interrelate. The first point of call is on “The Evil in the Nigerian Style of Apprenticeship/Domestic Servitude".
  2. Focused study and survey: we have to quantify the nature and extent of the problem through thoroughly done surveys and studies. The nature and extent of these problems would be studied first. We also have to establish their social and economic effects on our society.
  3. Creating profound awareness through campaigns geared towards making people appreciate the existence of these wrong social practices and understand how pervasive they are. We should prepare a powerful presentation on the issue. A presentation that can move whoever sees it and present this at key places: religious setting, to the government, to local village authorities, to individual politicians etc. These people can be co-opted as ambassadors of justice and peace by further creating awareness wherever they go. We can give them what we call "Cue Cards" with simple message on the subject that they can use before doing any public speech. Using the media is also another powerful option.
  4. Establishing strategic partnership with stakeholders particularly some organisations working to address similar problems like JDPC (for the Catholic church and its Anglican counterpart) The intervention programmes while seeking to partner with these organisations, should gear to refocus them on their primary mandate of actively seeking justice for those marginalized (some in prison for what they did not do) and peace among warring people. Most of the local organisations have international donors which can be approached as well. I think we should approach the international donors and explain to them the gaps in the way the mandate of these local players, not to demonize, but to urge them to fund our programme even through these organizations until we build credibility with them. 
  5. Launching well-structured intervention programmes: There should be direct intervention projects which should start with launching a scientific study into the matter, then the move to have the government pass a bill/law that create a framework for the use of domestic workers for housekeeping and apprenticeship. 

Monitoring, Evaluation and assessment of results: There is need to conduct and publish annually a study of "Counts of human rights abuse in relationship to the acts of domestic workmanship and or apprenticeship". If the publication catches fire, key institutions in Nigeria will be monitoring whether the problem is showing signs of decrease or increase. Such studies will be permanent and will ensure sustainability of the organization outside of the education programmes. 


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