…Our Security, Our Peace by Dr. O.E Bassey
Not even the schools are safe these days. And that’s a statement that cannot be any truer — not after the recent death of Deborah Samuel, a student of the Shehu Shagari College of Education. Deborah was in tears and grief, pleading for her life when she was burnt to death by a mob of Islamic fanatics.
The whole incident leading to Deborah’s case was said to have come on the back of an educational conversation where Deborah had attributed her success in an exam to Jesus Christ of her Christian faith, and that didn’t sit well with her Muslim course mates who asked her to retract her statement but she refused, holding on to the belief that she has the right to her religion. And when she was threatened, she replied, “Holy Ghost fire, nothing will happen to me. Is it by force that you guys will be sending all these religious stuff in this group? The group wasn’t created for that but rather as a notice on tests, assignments, exams, etc, not these nonsense religious posts,” as narrated to the media by one of her coursemates.
Obviously, those words infuriated her Muslim coursemates who were said to have gone to intimate strangers about her statement, and these strangers will in turn invade their classroom and whisked Deborah away to have her lynched to death on account of alleged blasphemy to their God.
And that chronicles how the country lost a young and intellectual lady all on the basis of her being found in a toxic school environment with zero regard for laws, sanctity of human life, and tolerance for others’ religions.
When we get our children into schools, the priority, which is not misplaced albeit, is always fixed on the quality of education without factoring in the environment at which that quality of education will be offered.
These children spend a chunk of their time with other students and people from different walks of life with different creed systems driving their actions and inactions, and it will be inadequate, in such light, to place your priority on education quality alone without putting into consideration the antecedents and proclivities of that environment in respect to the safety of your child, security wise.
Some environments are yet to come to terms with peace-building values. While you are on the lookout for where to enroll your child into or send your child to study, it is important you carry out your due diligence to ascertain the peace-building values of such environment. When an environment is found to be hostile to one of the peace-building values, then having your child in such environment is too risky a decision to make. You might want to ask, what are the peace building values to be on the lookout for? Here are they:
Where love is dependent on your race, tribe, religion, age or gender and not on who one is as a human, then such environment is a red flag. You need to study a school environment to ensure there is no discrimination meted out to people found within it. Everyone should be treated with love impinged on the premise that we are all humans and we need to support and love each other to grow. If an environment is not found endorsing such principle, then having your child in an environment that speaks otherwise is a red flag.
Deborah’s environment before her death was one that was highly intolerant of others’ religions. She attributed her success to her religion and that didn’t sit well with some of her coursemates who were of the other religion, and hence, decided to take the law into their own hands. You need to ask and observe if other religions are respected and tolerated in speeches and in actions in the environment you want your child to school in before taking the final decision to have the child in there. Check the host community of the school and what their disposition is on religion, race, culture or creed that are contrary to theirs. If you find out that there are some things they don’t tolerate that are highly revered with you and your family values, then it will be all danger to have your child in there.
A school environment must have a sound justice system that sees that any injustice done to anybody within its quarters has fair judgment appropriated that sees the violator being punished for the wrong committed and the offender getting justice for the wrong done to them. This sort of environment creates an atmosphere of peace and security as everyone will know best to keep to acceptable behaviors and not trample on anyone’s rights.
An environment that promotes freedom is a peaceful environment and a green light for your child. Freedom to speak, freedom to relate, freedom of movement, freedom to practice one’s religion. Freedom is synonymous to peace. And if an environment is found to
be restrictive with some things, you need to find out what those things are to ensure that it is not in any way compromising of fundamental human rights.
Overwhelmingly important you need to check for the culture of integrity within a space you are to have your child in. If an environment is infamous for saying one thing, and doing the other, then you need to be suspicious. Any environment in consistence with peace is an environment that is in consistence with truth both in deeds and in words.
So, there you have it: peace-building values to be on the lookout for in respect to the safety of your child in a school environment.
CAN and planned protest for justice over Deborah’s death
We have gone down this road too many times with little to show for it, or even worse in some cases. I think it is about time we took a different approach to addressing issues as against always wanting to hit the streets, carrying placards, chorusing to solidarity songs, and distorting traffic just to make a statement, and at the end of the day, it ends up in empty promises from the government.
Deborah’s death, seemingly, is a religious one, and one the Christian Association of Nigeria need not fold their arms and allow slide for the sake of precedence and the overall protection of Christians found in different parts of the country.
However, as against the popular protest approach, I will advise CAN to go the peaceful and the effective way of dialogue and negotiation. At this point, we should be proactive and not reactive. What has happened has sadly happened. What we should be looking out for are practical and compelling ways to put the government on their toes to ensure that they implement stringent policies that dissuade perpetrators of such religious crime to do likewise in the future. Plus, to get them knuckled down on bringing the perpetrators of Deborah’s death to book, and having justice served. And the only way to get them to execute this all-important bid is to be ingenious and not ridiculous. This is the time to engage the international communities, religious bodies, bring them to a dialogue with the government to impress upon them these demands through negotiations that will see the government formulating and enforcing legislations that promote religious peace across board. With the infleunce the international communities wield, having them in the picture of negotiation will get the government’s attention and compel them to do the bids that will be brought to the dialogue table. This is most likely going to yield the results we want in a peaceful culture that resonates with the Christian ideology as compared to a protest that can be hijacked by unscrupulous individuals and have its purpose defeated or its goal misplaced.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11.
Meanwhile, my training on the protection of children is still up for registration. If you want to get on board to understand the techniques to put to use in the protection of your children in light of the dynamics of the time, kindly contact this number to get onboard: +2347065828892.
The training will be holding from the 27th May to 29th May, 2022 from 6pm – 8pm. Training fee is N10,000 with materials and certificates to be given to you.
Dr. Ofonime Emmanuel Bassey is a Security, Peace and Conflict Resolution Coach with decades of experience in the practice and promotion of Law Enforcement, Peace and Security through the Nigeria Police and the United Nations.
He is an advocate of Peace Leadership and Child Protection.
He has served and interacted at the top level management of the Nigeria Police as well as internationally as a United Nation’s Monitor/Mentor in Kosovo, Europe.
A professor of Peace Advocacy and Conflict Resolution, Dr. O.E Bassey is a certified United Nation’s Trainer, and currently the Director of ICOF Institute of Leadership, Peace and Conflict Resolution in Africa.
With his marks well-established in Peace Leadership both in Nigeria and Africa. Currently, he is the President, NISSI Safety Management Institute: An Institute of Peace Leadership.
Presently, he is spearheading a campaign tagged “The Next Peace Leaders”, a campaign that is billed to run from 2022-2023 with a target of training 37,000 young peace leaders.
For peace and security tips, consultations and trainings, reach him via:
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