Agents of peace or violence: an appraisal of youth participation in peace-building initiatives, Jos, Nigeria, (2000 –2010).
Obaje, Timothy Aduojo.
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The thesis explores peace-building processes in the city of Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria with a specific focus on the depth of youth participation in peace-building initiatives. The study revolves around the 2000 to 2010 era bearing in mind that this epoch was characterised by unceasing outbursts of conflicts in the city. It employed a qualitative design with thirty purposively selected respondents. Respondents were interviewed using a semi-structured interview instruments. The interviews generated detailed empirical data that illuminated various peace-building initiatives and the depth of youth participation in these initiatives in Jos. Academics and practitioners have identified peace-building as a potential technique could ensure sustainability of peace in conflict-prone societies. Since the early 90s, the United Nations have popularised peace-building efforts via its peace-building frameworks in making available a strategic response to violent conflicts and its causes. Guided by the human security conceptual framework and civic participatory theory, this study contributes to the debate on how the youth can genuinely and adequately participate in peace-building initiatives in Jos and globally. The comprehension of the concept of human security introduces a shift away from the traditional state-oriented security approach which gives rise to the utilization of military power based on the quest for state security. Human security draws attention to humans, both as individuals and groups, in a society. Findings from this study demonstrate that the Nigerian government and the Plateau State government in particular, are progressively subscribing to the idea of the human security oriented approach to peacebuilding over the State security approach. Although a lot need to be done in this respect, the identified peace-building initiatives are indicative of developments in the right direction. Included in some of the notable forms of peace-building initiatives that emerged from the analysis of the study’s empirical data, are the establishment of commissions of inquiry, the formation of inter-religious council, the appointment of the Special Advisor to the Governor on peace-building and trust and capacity building programs. Analysis of these initiatives revealed the strategic marginalisation of youth in peace-building processes. Peace-building endeavours such as trust and capacity building programs were manipulated and exploited rather than making a credible effort towards peace. These elements in some of the peacebuilding initiatives coupled with the total neglect of youth in other peace-building initiatives summed up the unscrupulous nature of the identified peace-building initiatives in Jos and consequently remaining stuck to the perimeter of Arnstein’s non-participation and tokenism in the ladder of participation. This study therefore, recommends the development of a comprehensive peace-building policy and civic participatory framework. A framework that facilitates and guides stakeholders effort towards genuine youth participation in peace-building initiatives. This will include but not limited to the prioritization of public participation in peace-building and other communal and societal affairs, the enhancement of the government’s commitment to peace-building efforts and civic participation, the development of stakeholders’ capacity, and finally, the enhancement of a culture of accountability with a focus on peace-building and genuine youth participation in decision-making processes. In so doing, the study contributes to extant literature about the youth as agents of positive change rather than instruments of violence.