The European Union (EU) in collaboration with the Borno State Government and British Council have trained a total of 250 community leaders and women who were affected by the conflicts on reconciliation and peacebuilding on the need to accept the repentance of Boko Haram members.
The Project Manager of the British Council, Mr Emmanuel Iyaji, stated this during the closing of a 3-day Trauma, Counselling and Psychology Support training for Leaders and Stakeholders in Maiduguri.
He disclosed that the project aims to support Nigerians with conflict resolution at both the state and community levels.
He noted that the peacebuilding process required consultation, counselling and trauma programs for the stakeholders who had suffered burns from the crisis.
“We have trained 200 traditional rulers including District, Ward and village heads on mediation and reintegration, as you can see how we are training additional 50 women and other stakeholders on peacebuilding which comprises counselling, trauma and others.
“The community leaders are resistant to the idea because they were largely not consulted in the design and delivery of the deradicalization programme. This lack of consultation has created a knowledge gap for the leaders on the content of the deradicalization programme, particularly the extent to which the programme has addressed the ideological underpinnings of the insurgency.
“The expected result of the intervention is that the traditional and religious as strategic leaders and gatekeepers will understand the deradicalization programme and the need for successful reintegration for sustainable peace.
“The enhanced understanding will influence them to become advocates of reintegration and to take measures to promote community acceptance in their domains,” Emmanuel explained.
One of the participants, Aisha Kyari stressed that her perceptions have changed toward repentance fighters after the peacebuilding program.
She reiterated that it is important for the community to accept and allow them to live with ex-combatants because peace is sacrosanct.
“We just need to forgive them, without peace there would not be any development so it is high time we let the past be forgotten,” Aisha said.
The programme was funded by the European Union and implemented by the British Council and Managing Conflict in Nigeria (MCN) Programme.