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Background

Even before the current spate of rural violence and banditry in northwest Nigeria, Kaduna state has been a hotspot of violent conflict with a history of religious and ethnic conflicts, political violence as well as deep-rooted indigene-settler disharmony. Present-day rural banditry, in the form of kidnapping, pillage of rural communities and mass killings, has fluidly diffused into pre-existing ethno-religious tensions and bigotry, which is often amplified by the media and political commentators. Every killing, kidnapping or act of violence in Kaduna is seen as Muslim against the Christian or vice-versa, thereby inflaming the multiple complexities of the conflict. As a result, armed banditry in the state has the potential of being misinterpreted in different ways, compared to other states with less of a history of ethnic and religious violence.

Traditional leaders—Hakimai and Ardo—are ever-present conflict actors either as its victims or as agents of peacebuilding and resolution. Socially speaking, traditional authorities are the agents of peace and social cohesion. They operate at the grassroots and interact regularly and closely with the masses. In addition, they are custodians of culture and traditions. They are also the major pillars for the success of any social programme and public policy design and implementation. When it comes to conflict resolution, they have a vast knowledge and experience of the acceptable traditional methods and procedures of conflict management, conflict resolution and peacebuilding. In fact it has been argued that the collapse of the traditional conflict resolution and peacebuilding architectures in many societies was partly responsible for the escalation of this violent conflict in Kaduna state.

In recognition of this Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Abuja in partnership with the Centre for Peace Studies, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto organised a two-day capacity building training for selected Hakimai and Ardo in Kaduna state on peacebuilding and conflict resolution under its Strengthening the Delivery of Peace and Security (SDPS) Project.

Objectives

The key essence of the training was to provide a platform in, which the capacity of traditional leaders would be improved by strengthening their traditional methods of conflict resolution in order to serve as agents of peace and conflict resolution. This approach is based on the premise that traditional leaders are best placed to counter negative narratives by the media and individuals that could instigate and inflame violent conflict. Without challenging and correcting ethnic and religious profiling the evolving conflicts in volatile Kaduna state will likely continue to linger and spread. The situation requires more urgent and effective proactive measures and CDD believes the best point to start is from the Hakimai and Ardo, who are the custodian of peace and conflict resolution. The main objective is therefore, to build the capacity of traditional leaders to strengthen their knowledge and expertise to understanding the challenging dynamics, trends, dimensions and complexities of all types of conflicts in Kaduna state and to support their efforts to contribute meaningfully towards peacebuilding and resolution using all necessary traditional and religious mechanisms as differentiated in various communities and religious domains.

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