By Steven Kefas
In commemoration of the International World Peace Day on September 21st, 2023, the prominent Jos-based Gideon and Funmi Para-Mallam Peace Foundation paid a courtesy visit to the General Officer Commanding (GOC) and STF Commander of the Nigerian Army’s 3 Division, Major General AE Abubakar.
The visit highlighted the Army’s pivotal role in working assiduously to restore peace, security and bring stability across Plateau and neighboring States under the leadership of Maj Gen Abubakar.
The peace delegation was led by The Revd Dr. Gideon Para-Mallam, President and CEO of the Foundation, along with his wife, Prof. Olufunmilayo Para-Mallam, mni, a Director of Studies (DOE) at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS). They were joined by Sheikh Adam Ghazali, Deputy Imam of the Central Mosque Jos and a Judge at the CAC Court, as well as other foundation Staff members.
Addressing the GOC, The Revd Dr. Para-Mallam expressed the foundation’s profound gratitude to Maj Gen Abubakar for his proactive efforts in curbing violence across Plateau State since assuming duty as both GOC 3 Division and Commander of Operation Safe Haven (OPSH).
He noted that the General took command at a turbulent time but has succeeded in drastically reducing the incidences of attacks and promoting peace and security not just in Plateau but neighboring states such as Kaduna through his decisive leadership.
Dr. Para-Mallam also took the opportunity to brief the GOC on the Para-Mallam Peace Foundation’s impactful interventions over the years. This includes community peace building activities in Plateau and Kaduna States for example. Advocacy, Research and document, youth mentorship programs, building capacity for women in peace building programs and inter-religious dialogues.
Echoing similar sentiments, Sheikh Ghazali lauded the GOC’s swift and robust actions which have brought tremendous relief to Plateau residents. He assured the GOC of the foundation’s commitment to supporting ongoing peacebuilding efforts through their rich archives and resources.
In his response, Maj Gen Abubakar welcomed the foundation’s delegation and hailed their efforts in complementing the Army’s peacekeeping operations. While acknowledging the persisting security challenges, he reiterated the importance of community-driven peace initiatives as a viable solution beyond kinetic interventions alone.
The GOC pledged the unwavering support of 3rd Armoured Division towards the foundation’s peace programs aimed at permanently healing age-long divisions in society. He expressed confidence that Plateau will regain its status as the ‘Home of Peace and Tourism’ through collective action.
Professor Funmilayo Para-Mallam, mni in her vote of thanks expressed profound gratitude to the GOC for the remarkable work he is doing as STF Commander. Professor Para-Mallam who is the Director of Studies of The National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) said the results of the GOC’s impact since taking over the command of the STF have become reference points beyond Plateau. She commended the General and prayed that God will continue to guide him in all his activities.
Recall that prior to his assumption of office as GOC and STF Commander, Plateau state was known for frequent attacks and killings with the figures of people killed between April And July 2023 put at 346 according to data released by The Para-Mallam Peace Foundation in July. General Abubakar’s examplary leadership since taken over Command has led to a drastic reduction in attacks and killings in the state.
The World Peace Day visit highlights the collaborative approach between the military and civil society groups in tackling insecurity across Nigeria’s restive Middle Belt. With the Army adopting a more community-focused strategy, groups such as the Para-Mallam Peace Foundation seeks to promote, and both hope to remain critical partners in working to see a Plateau, Kaduna, Benue and other States; that one day attacks on communities will become history.