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What We Do

Peace and Reconciliation Through Interreligious Dialogue in Nigeria

Currently, in Nigeria, violent conflicts are occurring, notably outbreaks between sedentary farming and pastoralist communities, between different ethnicities and between Christian and Muslim groups. These conflicts breed social unrest and are exploited for political gain. In this environment beset by conflict, the programme works with partners to help rebuild and strengthen social cohesion, particularly among and between Christians and Muslims.

The programme supports, documents and coordinates local efforts by religious communities and interreligious advocates that contribute to reconciliation in the region through interreligious dialogue. In view of the scale of the challenge, Nigerian stakeholders are seeking to establish a sustainable and inclusive interreligious platform for peace to meet the great need for meaningful dialogue.

 “Here, religion is used to manipulate and divide the society for personal gain and media attention, while at the grassroots level, the amount of interaction and interreligious understanding is incredible,” said Ibrahim Yahya, Director of the Da’Wah Institute of Nigeria.

Through this programme, the Centre is cooperating with the Nigerian Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR). KAICIID and IPCR implemented a project in cooperation with the Women of Faith Peacebuilding Network in January 2015 in Abuja, Nigeria.

Strategic Focus: Peacebuilding in Nigeria

The Nigeria Country Programme is designed to help religious actors set up, successfully run and effectively manage IRD platforms in conflict situations. The programme supports Nigerian religious community leaders and policy-makers to work together on initiatives that are designed to bring about peace and reconciliation.

Programme Goals

  1. To establish diverse IRD platforms in conflict situations and at the regional/global level that generate deep and robust dialogue on the causes of, and solutions to, conflict;
  2. To enhance mutual and inclusive understanding of human rights, respect and trust among/between religious leaders and policy-makers;
  3. To promote cooperative action to foster peace and reconciliation among members of the platforms and local stakeholders;
  4. To develop a comprehensive body of knowledge on IRD for peace and reconciliation in conflict situations and create linkages to the broader field of IRD.

KAICIID’s efforts to achieve those goals can be grouped into the four activities in Nigeria:

According to local stakeholders and the findings of consultations in Nigeria, there is a broad and established landscape of interreligious activities, especially on local and community levels. The main needs expressed by Nigerian stakeholders revolved around the lack of coordination and documentation for increased visibility and efficiency. The Centre will provide support in documenting existing interreligious dialogue efforts and advocates in Nigeria. The resulting documentation will be integrated into the Peace Mapping Programme. (peacemap.kaiciid.org) The Peace Mapping Programme is a unique tool that gathers and provides empirical data relevant to the understanding of institutions active internationally in the field of interreligious dialogue. The Peacemap displays the variety of interreligious dialogue activities carried out by organizations with international outreach worldwide. The Peace Mapping Programme is currently working on the development of regional directories of organisations and individuals active in interreligious dialogue, particularly in CAR, Nigeria, Iraq and Syria as well as Myanmar. It aims to support the networking in the field and the documentation of efforts on a global and regional level.
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Children at the New Horizons College, Minna
Mutual perceptions of the different Nigerian religious communities have deteriorated considerably throughout Nigeria, especially on an intra-religious level where adherents of various denominations question each other’s legitimacy going so far as to violently expressing their rejection of the other. Intra-religious understanding must be fostered among religious leaders to enable constructive dialogue with other stakeholders. The “Coordinate to Achieve” Initiative provides a safe space for genuine exchange among leaders and religious community leaders from Muslim and Christian communities throughout Nigeria. The initiative’s Intrareligious 2016 Meetings of the initiative convene leaders from Nigerian religious communities, representing faith-based institutions, women and youth associations, and representatives of minorities and stakeholders of diverse backgrounds. The aim is to provide a safe space for the participants to unify as a religious community and find ways to increase the community’s capacity to fully and equally participate in the processes of interreligious dialogue, national reconciliation and peace promotion in Nigeria. The anticipated outcomes of the Meetings include reaching a concrete agreement on promoting intra-religious cohesion and a joint action plan to pave the way for meaningful and sustainable Interreligious Dialogue for Peace and Reconciliation in Nigeria.
Jos Stakeholders Meeting
Local consultations have shown that there is a need for meaningful dialogue between all parties to unite and jointly combat violence and extremism. When progress is achieved in coordinating intrareligious efforts for peace and reconciliation in Nigeria, the Common Goals Initiative will carry forward this work on an interreligious level, bringing the various religious communities together. The Centre supports representatives of all religious communities through a participatory approach to develop solutions and implement initiatives that aim at fostering peace and reconciliation. During a National Interreligious Dialogue Forum, the Centre will support and strengthen the process of interreligious and intercultural dialogue within the region. Currently extremists who exploit religious identities commit systematic violence, tensions between different groups within Nigerian society are also rising. At this high-level Forum for influential religious, political, and civil society leaders existing initiatives and new responses to this violence will be highlighted. An on-going, constructive dialogue among senior religious leaders will be enabled by the Forum, as well as to steps toward combining the capacity of the religious leaders and their developmental and governmental peers to speed peace promotion. Furthermore, the participants will be encouraged to develop and issue action commitments, recommendations, and collaborations to support new and existing programmes in the region.
Jos Security Checkpoint
To complement the existing interreligious dialogue capacities in Nigeria, the Centre supports selected local initiatives such as a three-day workshop for 300 Christian and Muslim women and youth on how to use dialogue to prevent conflict. This was conducted in collaboration with Religions for Peace, the Women of Faith Peacebuilding Network and the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution and completed in January, 2015. The Workshop was organized at the request of Archbishop of Abuja, John Onaiyekan, and Alhaji Idris Musa, Sarkin Jiwa. The goal of the workshop was to teach the participants to become more actively and directly involved in conflict prevention and peacebuilding during the weeks leading up to the 2015 general elections - which were held on 14 February 2015 and resulted in the first peaceful and democratic transition of power in Nigeria since its independence in 1960. Furthermore, KAICIID has started conversations with international and local partners to launch pilot initiatives to address specific dialogue needs in Nigeria. These focus particularly on the involvement of youth in dialogue processes for peace and reconciliation. Additionally, the Centre aims to increase inclusivity and efficiency by empowering women as insider dialogue facilitators.