By Vivian Emoni
The Cardinal Onaiyekan Foundation for Peace (COFP) has endorsed 60 Ambassadors for Peace to transform conflict and strengthen peace and unity in Nigeria and Africa.
At the graduation ceremony of 2021/2022 COFP Fellowship Programme, His Eminence, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, President of the foundation, encouraged the graduates to continue with good work of peace.
Onaiyekan, also the Founder of the foundation, said that the fellows were the 4th graduates, adding that the foundation started about five years ago and had extended to other African countries.
According to him, this marks the successful putting into the filed of another group of workers in the noble task of building peace.
“It is also for transforming conflicts, strengthening the resilience of our oppressed people and creating conditions for the genuine prosperity of our people.
“Our foundation is based on a deep conviction and faith in God. Our faith in God also inspires and empowers us to launch on to action to do all we can for good of our human environment.
“We are grateful to all who have joined us as partners in this noble task and all who have been supporting and facilitating the work, both from abroad and Nigeria,” he said.
Onaiyekan thanked the graduates for their dedication throughout the one year programme on interreligious dialogue, conflict transformation and meditation.
He said that the fellows had been equiped and strengthened for the task of interfaith and peace building actions for developement of the societies across Africa.
“These fellows have also discovered the force of inter-faith action in a sacred coalition against violent extremism in the name of God.
“The foundation is now poised for continued growth in both extension and quality of the services it is planning to render to our communities in the years that lie ahead,” he said.
Onaiyekan, however, urged all the fellows, private and government partners for the sustainability of the programme as it would promote more peace and oneness to Africa at large.
The Executive Director of the foundation, Sister Agatha Chikelue, said that the foundation has continue to engage faith leaders and community actors across the continent to bridge divisions by building inclusive societies that enhance peace.
Chikelue said that about 10 fellows were drawn from other African countries, adding that they were from different faith.
According to her, the participants of the one year programme successfully emerged from required 159 credit hours of study at the foundation and have executed their community peace projects in their various states and countries.
“They will be awarded with a certificate in interreligious dialogue, conflict transformation and meditation.
“We are confident that the training received in the one year has prepared our fellows to become peace ambassadors.
“This means that a lot is expected from them.
“One of the ways that they can strengthen the efforts to address challenges of today’s conflicts, is by putting into action all they have learnt in the programme.”
She encouraged the fellows to ensure that they used the initiative to address religious harmony, peaceful coexistence for community development.
“The time has come to translate dialogue into practical actions, that is what it means to be a COFP fellow,” she said.
Also, Dr Clementine Nishimwe, from Rwanda, one of the fellows who spoke on behalf of others, said that the foundation had made her understand the importance of living in peaceful environment.
Nishimwe, a Lecturer at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, said that she would put into action all that was taught during the programme.
“I will ensure that I translate dialogue into practical action.
“As a lecturer, I see youths everyday; I make sure I deliver the message of peace to them and ensure that peace and unity exist among them.
“I want to sincerely thank the foundation for the opportunity given to me to attend the programme. I promise to speak peace to my country in Rwanda and South Africa as well, ” she said. (NAN)