It is important for people to become aware of the dangers of violence to their communities.The Warri Multi Stakeholders’ Platform (MSP) will be convening three town hall meetings to promote peaceful coexistence and tolerance between Ijaw and Itsekiri ethnic groups. The town hall meetings were part of the peace-building sensitization initiatives of the group and would be held in Koko on September 20, 2019; Ogbe-Ijoh on November 16, 2019; and Warri South on December 10, 2019 all in Delta State.
The Warri MSP is a coordinating forum of 16 members cutting across traditional rulers, State and Local Government representatives, and community representatives from the Ijaw and Itsekiri ethnic groups in Delta State. It was established with support from the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND Foundation) to promote dialogue and mitigate conflict between the Ijaw and Itsekiri ethnic groups.
The Ijaws and Itsekiris are major ethnic groups in the Delta State, Nigeria. The struggle for resources like rents, royalties, political influence have been a major driver of conflict in the state. This has affected peaceful relations in the past between both ethnic groups. The area occupied by both ethnic groups are contiguous to each other. As a result, it was inevitable given the competing drivers for violence to erupt between them.
The initial outbreak of violence can be traced to 1997 with the creation of the Warri South West Local Government Area. The Local Government Headquarters was initially located in Ogbe-Ijoh, an Ijaw speaking area of Warri, but was relocated to Ogidiben and Itsekiri area. This sparked riots and violence between both ethnic groups in what became known as the Warri Crisis. Ever since, tension and in some instances, violence has broken out between both groups at particular periods such as election cycles.
However, a lot of integrations have occurred between both ethnic groups in recent times but it isn’t uncommon to see major leaders from both groups stoking ethnic sentiments in a bid to gain an upper hand in the allocation of resources or political positions.
The participants in the town hall meetings will comprise of community representatives from both ethnic groups. The meetings would open up the conversation about peaceful coexistence between both groups at the grassroots by facilitating conversations about peaceful coexistence in these communities.
In 2017, PIND Foundation started the Warri MSP. The objective was to promote peaceful co-existence between both ethnic groups. Warri MSP was formally set up in July 2018 after about a year of engagement with state government, traditional institutions from both ethnic groups, women leaders, youth groups, security agencies and even multi-national companies in Warri.
PIND Foundation is a Nigerian non-profit organization established by Chevron to promote equitable economic development and peace through partnerships in the Niger Delta. Since 2013, PIND has been strengthening conflict resolution mechanisms to enable integrated peace and economic growth.