By Dr. Raphael Ogar Oko
Uyo, Akwa Ibom State: Following the national launch of the campaign for national unity in Abuja on December 12, 2013, the Akwa Ibom Association of Ambassadors for Peace have taken the initiative to flag off similar campaign in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. The Uyo launch was held on February 28, 2014 at the State Governor’s office annex conference hall in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. Attended by 30 Ambassadors for Peace and over 90 invited guests, the event was used to create awareness of the
UPF Nigeria nationwide programs geared toward proclaiming 2014 as year for national unity and to emphasize the significance of marriage and family in building a peaceful nation and world.
The Akwa Ibom Association of Ambassadors for Peace is a growing network of VIPs from Akwa Ibom State who are based in Abuja and designated as Ambassadors for Peace by the UPF. The association has about 45 members who are mostly resident in Abuja but are committed to supporting their birthplace local communities in Akwa Ibom state to become peaceful communities based on UPF principles for peace.
The zonal launch opening session featured opening prayers, national anthem of Nigeria recitation and a welcome address by Ambassador Hilary Sebastine Ekong of the Federal Ministry of Information, Abuja. The Chairman of the occasion, Ambassador Xavier Maurice Ekpo, Deputy
Director in the Office of the Secretary to the Federal Government of Nigeria gave the opening remarks emphasizing the determination of the association to continue to come home to preach the message of peace to the people of Akwa Ibom State as Ambassadors for Peace. He expressed
his special appreciation to the UPF Founders for their exemplary and peaceful lives and urged all participants to support the work of the UPF.
Dr George C. Ikpot, UPF Nigeria Director of the United Nations/AU/ECOWAS/National Assembly Affairs made a presentation on the significance of marriage and family in the campaign for national unity as well as a general introduction to the Universal Peace Federation. In his words, “I am also from Akwa Ibom State and have been involved with the work of UPF Founders for over 30 years and I can say that our people need to study and know more about this organization. Rev Moon
is a great leader of peace for the whole world and our people should embrace his teachings. The launch of the campaign in Uyo today provides a unique opportunity for the people and government of Akwa Ibom state to benefit from the many programs of the UPF”. He emphasized the need to strengthen marriage and build strong families to address the many challenges facing our nation and the world.
Secretary General of the UPF Nigeria, Dr Raphael Ogar Oko gave an overview of the activities of UPF in Nigeria and the campaign for national unity as well as UPF Vision 2020. Dr Oko thanked all the
Ambassadors for Peace who sacrificed time and resources to organize the program as well as welcome us to Uyo. Participants were informed that Nigeria is one the providential nations for the realization of Vision 2020 and that Nigerians are expected to make all efforts to transform the nation to become a peaceful and unified country by the year 2020. He announced that UPF Nigeria is being administered under 12 zones with 3 states making up a zone. The pronouncement of Akwa Ibom state as the zonal headquarters of Cross River, Akwa Ibom and Rivers states was welcomed by the participants and pledge to establish a functional office in Uyo by the Ambassadors for Peace. The Secretary General’s message focused on the UPF Founder’s teachings on marriage, peace and unification as he called on the people to stand up against same sex marriage but rather work for a peaceful Nigeria and support the call for proclamation of 2014 as year for national unity.
The presentation was followed by several questions and answers as well as goodwill messages from the participating Ambassadors for Peace pledging their determination to support the work of the UPF in Nigeria. Two university students from the University of Uyo, Christiana Etim and Joy Mba were so inspired by the explanation of the ideal of true love and marriage that they openly offered themselves to become members of the UPF and will like to participate in any intercultural exchange marriage program as promoters of national unity.
Participants joined in the declaration on marriage, peace and unification as a special feature of the launch. Participants voted in support of the ideal of marriage as marriage between men and women and condemned current efforts to impose homosexual practice in Nigeria. Participants also declared that they support the renewal of marriage vows from “marriage until death do us part” to being “married as husband and wife forever”. It was also declared that we shall all stand for a peaceful Nigeria and will never support any action that will trigger religious or ethnic wars in Nigeria and finally, participants endorsed the call for year 2014 as year for national unity.
The declarations opened the way for presentation of Ambassadors for Peace award certificate to 4 VIPs including the Vice Chairman of Ini LGA, Akwa Ibom Chairman of Nigeria Labor Congress and two Christian Ministers who came with their spouses to receive the award toward the end of the program. Each of the newly inducted Ambassadors for Peace promised to continue to spread the work of peace that the UPF has called them to do in their communities.
Participants were issued certificate of participation while Williams William was introduced to all the Ambassadors for Peace and participants as the new Zonal Coordinator of UPF Nigeria responsible
for Cross River, Akwa Ibom and Rivers State with a charge to focus on increasing membership of UPF, building partnership with strategic institutions, developing and implementing programs as well as exploring ways of sustainable funding of local activities among others. The campaign to appoint 100 outstanding Nigerians as Ambassadors for Peace to mark Nigeria at 100 in April 2014 was
announced and recommendations were made by some of the participants. The zonal launch ended with group photograph and it was resolved that the zonal chapter should organize a special event to commemorate the United Nations International Day of Families on May 15 in Uyo. Also, some Ambassadors for Peace were selected to represent Akwa Ibom state in the forthcoming Special Leadership Conference of Ambassadors for Peace from Nigeria at the African Union Commission headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, March 27 – 29, 2014, which will include a guided tour of the AU headquarters and study of what the AU is doing about unification of Africa. It is our hope that the zonal launch will inspire more activities in the zone and other parts of Nigeria as we strive to fulfil our national calling as a providential nation for peace.
Dr. Raphael Ogar Oko is the Secretary General, UPF Nigeria