FCT 2013 speech by Alhaji (Dr) Mukhtar Ramalan Yero (Executive Governor of Kaduna State, Nigeria)

Speech by Alhaji (Dr) Mukhtar Ramalan Yero (Executive Governor of Kaduna State, Nigeria)
Opening Ceremony of the 4th Forum for Cities in Transition Conference
Murtala Mohammed Square
Kaduna, Nigeria
4 November 2013

I am very pleased and honoured to be part of this very important occasion which is the 4th International Conference for Cities in Transition.  God in his infinite mercy has brought us here and to him we must render our gratitude.  We are but instruments in the hands of God.  May He continue to use us as the Instrument of peace and progress in Nigeria and the world over.

Let me specially welcome our distinguished dignitaries, Their Excellencies, Arc. Mohammed Namadi Sambo, FNIA, GCON, Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria and General Abdulsalami Alhaji Abubakar GCON, Former Military Head of State and Grand Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.  Your presence here today and the presence of other notable personalities which include former Governors of the State, Distinguished Senators, Members of the National and State Houses of Assemblies, as well as our revered Traditional and Religious Leaders, is a demonstration of our firm resolve to sustain peaceful and harmonious relationships between and amongst the diverse people of Kaduna State in particular, and the country in general.  My warm welcome also goes to the participants of the conference particularly the foreign participants for keeping faith with the conference by travelling from their respective countries to Nigeria.  I welcome you all on behalf of the Government and the good people of Kaduna State.  We indeed felt honoured by the choice of Kaduna as the venue to host this very important event of international importance.

As you are aware, Kaduna State is a rainbow of vibrant diversity, a mini Nigeria with diverse ethnic groups with predominantly Muslim and Christian population.  It should also be noted that Kaduna, due to its strategic position, as the capital of the old Northern Region, has always played host to a variety of interest from both the North and even beyond, who rightly or wrongly, believe that Kaduna is the place from which messages of whatever hue and cry could be effectively conveyed to the entire country.

I believe that plurality of ethnic and religious groups, ideally, should not be a problem.  Diversity and pluralism are known to be the basis of cosmopolitan and complex societies such as ours.  It is only where ethnicity and religion are made means of narrowing people’s participation in political, economic, and social spheres that problems manifest in various forms.  However, Kaduna State geographical area has for sometimes occupied a position of volatility in the history of ethno-religious tensions in Nigeria with great consequences which includes ethno-religious divide of the city.  This unfortunate development has far reaching consequences to even the generation unborn.

It is against this background that we in Kaduna State whole heartedly embraced the hosting of this conference, aimed at promoting peaceful and harmonious co-existence through exchanging ideas and promoting understanding, with the ultimate aim of encouraging resolution of conflicts through non-violent methods in order to unify polarized cities in the world, Kaduna inclusive, therefore, the activities of this conference is consistent with our primary and fundamental responsibility which is the provision of security and welfare of the people.  Hence, our focus has remained in the promotion of peace, unity and progress in Kaduna and the country in general.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, you would agree with me that many concerned individuals, societies and associations and various Fora have discussed the insecurity, bombings, murders and mayhem that have visited our towns and States, which have been questioning our corporate existence as a nation.  Many have proffered solutions.  I therefore, charge this Conference to synthesis our peculiar circumstances with a view to proffering actionable proposals for tackling these challenges at the family, ward, Local Government, State and national level.

On this note, I wish to seize this opportunity to strongly appeal to all the people in the State and even beyond to allow peace to reign, as we must not allow emotions and sentiments to override us.  There is need to tolerate one another in the interest of national peace and integration.  This call is very crucial because the interest of the nation is above any personal or sectional interest.

Finally, I thank you all for finding time to grace this occasion.  It is my hope, that our interest and objective for hosting this Conference would be realized in order to make our world a better place.  I wish our participants a fruitful deliberation and happy stay in Kaduna.  May God Almighty guide and grant us journey mercies back to our respective destinations.

Thank you and God bless.

FCT 2013: Remarks by Professor Padraig O’Malley

Remarks by Professor Padraig O’Malley
Opening Ceremony of the 4th Forum for Cities in Transition Conference
Murtala Mohammed Square
Kaduna, Nigeria
4 November 2013 

Your Excellency, Vice President Sambo; Your Excellency, Governor Yero, and all assembled Excellencies,

This is an auspicious — indeed, not just auspicious but a groundbreaking occasion for the Forum for Cities in Transition to have the privilege, as a result of the Kaduna Forum for Cities in Transition and Kaduna State, to conduct the fourth annual conference of the Forum here in Kaduna.

We are profoundly grateful for your hosting us.

Adding to the groundbreaking occasion is the presence of six Nigerian cities and four others from the rest of Africa.

To Kaduna State, we are profoundly grateful for underwriting the cost of this conference, because without your generosity we would not be here — and we will remember that and hope you have set a precedent for other cities.

Your Excellency, Governor Yero, we thank you and we will not forget.

And to the many hundreds in the balconies who have made the journey here this morning for this historic occasion, we are humbled by your presence and hope our endeavours do you, the people, justice.

It is our hope that at the close of the conference we can announce that the Kaduna FCT has established a Nigerian FCT, with the Nigerian cities who are participating in this conference as its founding members, making Kaduna the peace centre of Nigeria and the hope that a Nigerian Forum will contribute to healing the divisions among Muslims and Christians that has enmeshed Nigeria in religious conflict for decades.

To all Nigerians here, I want to say that these cities can do together what they cannot do individually — one Nigerian city can help another, bonded by their similarities, their difficulties, their divisions — and their commitment to healing those divisions.

The Forum for Cities in Transition wishes to pay a special welcome to our Balkan cities — Mostar, Sarajevo and Srebrenica — cities torn apart by horrific violence during the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

And a special welcome as well to our delegation from Baghdad, a city where daily bombings erase human life instantaneously, pre-empting any kind of reconciliation between Sunni and Shia in the process, with the result that we are beginning to witness Iraq slip slowly, but with frightening speed, into a full-scale civil war, with neighbour turning on neighbour, with every possibility that Iraq will become another Syria.

Many of our delegates made arduous journeys to secure their visas and we appreciate the lengths you went to and for your patience in order to participate in this conference, and we hope you will leave here believing that your efforts were well worthwhile.

There is an official agenda, which you have — and there is an unofficial agenda — the unofficial one is of your own making.

You will have ample opportunities to meet and get to know each other during the week, to mix and not only share your narratives of conflict, but to explore ways in which you can help each other further reconciliation among your diverse communities who were once in conflict — and some who still are.

At the opening of every conference, I make a point of emphasising that this is not just a conference; it is a conference that produces outcomes — and I stress that word.

Each conference is linked to the previous one; so Kaduna 2013 is linked to Kirkuk 2012 to Derry-Londonderry 2011 to Mitrovica 2010 to Boston 2009.

The sums of your cities has created a chain that links you and enables you to engage in continuing interaction, reinforcing that you can do together what you cannot do alone.

Most importantly, as I said, this conference is about outcomes.

Each participating city will be asked at the close of the conference to make a specific commitment that will be completed before next year’s conference. To carry out a project that will further reconciliation in its own city or help another city lower on the ladder of transition and needs your help.

The diversity of ethnic groups, nationalities, religions and culture that are assembled here will produce a synergy that will bond you in the common pursuit of finding ways to further reconciliation and healing in each others’ cities.

You will work hard, you will learn much, and you can translate that learning into outcomes that will assist you on the journey to equality of services for all of your citizens, tolerance, respect for human rights, dignity for all — and will reinforce your understanding that you are all cities in recovery from great trauma, and that you must pursue a continuous process of healing; that otherwise you will slip back into conflict.

On behalf of the Forum for Cities Secretariat — Nancy Riordan, Candyce Carragher, Allan Leonard, Quintin Oliver and myself, we wish you success in your endeavours, and we are here to assist you in every way we can.

Thank you.

FCT 2013 Northern Ireland interviews (BBC Radio Ulster)

Karen Patterson (BBC Radio Ulster) interviews Tim Attwood (FCT Belfast) and Michael Doherty (FCT Derry-Londonderry) about their forthcoming travel to Kaduna, Nigeria, for the annual conference of the Forum for Cities in Transition:

Mark Patterson (BBC Radio Foyle) interviews Michael Doherty separately:

Kaduna to host Cities in Transition conference (WorldStage News)

Map Kaduna State WorldStage News

Kaduna to host Cities in Transition conference
by Innocent Senyo
23 September 2013

WorldStage News: Kaduna State (Nigeria) is to host the fifth edition of the global conference of the Cities in Transition scheduled for between November 4 to 8, the Chief of Staff to the Governor and Chairman of the Local Organising Committee, Yahaya Aminu has said.

Aminu, while addressing a news conference along with the Director of the Forum of Cities in Transition, Prof. Padraig O’Malley, said that about 92 international delegates and 12 African countries that has passed through one crisis or the other are expected to attend and share experiences at the conference.

According to him, delegates are expected to attend the conference from Iraq, Isreal, Palestine, Albania, Bosnia and Harzegovina, Cyprus, Ireland, South Africa, Liberia, South Sudan, Ethipia, Rwanda among others.

He said that participants will also be expected from Nigerian cities with history of crisis such as Warri, Ife/Modakeke, Kano, Shagamu, Nasarawa, Bauchi, Plateau etc.

Also speaking, Prof. O’Malley who is the convener of the conference explained that the Forum for Cities in Transition was formed to create a platform for reconciliation between communities that have suffered from conflict and are divided along ethnic and religious lines and create dynamics that serve as catalyst for change.

He said further that the Cities in Transition conferences are held yearly in cities that are divided by conflict, adding that participants who are drawn from conflict stricken areas of the world come together to share experiences and mutual similarities before making commitments and resolutions to resolve the crisis and bridge the divides.

He said “the Forum for Cities in Transition (FCT) is set out to create a platform for reconciliation between existing conflict inflicted societies and communities. This is based on the fact that cities in transitions in countries divided by conflict are in better position tom help other cities in similar situation as each city is at a different stage of transition.

“Apart from Kaduna, we have 12 cities across 12 continents, 14 cities across Africa, six cities in Nigeria and seven African countries involved. They have common problems ranging from policing, garbage collection, housing, road construction, the provision of health and welfare services to identifying flash points and interfaces that trigger violence”.