Dumo Lulu-Briggs, Man of Peace’ – Cardinal John Onaiyekan
By Monima Daminabo
In the ninth verse of the book of Matthew the Bible records our Lord Jesus Christ as saying that ‘Blessed are the peace makers for they shall be called the children of God.” In another section – this time the 133rd chapter of the Psalms, the same Bible records “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion.” These two passages among numerous others in the Bible, testify eloquently to the premium which Almighty God places on peaceful co-existence among all humanity, even with their differences in antecedents, backgrounds and pedigrees.
If nothing else, the recent appointment of Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs to the Board of the Cardinal Onaiyekan Foundation for Peace (COFP), resonates with the nationwide call for return of peace to the Nigerian nation, which is today bedeviled by sundry acts and tendencies that have chased peace away from our shores. Coming at a time of palpable tensions and portends of escalation of same, nothing deserves a most desired welcome now than efforts by the government, sundry organisations and individuals to promote the return of peace to Nigerian streets.
It is in this context that the COPF enjoys merit. The Foundation a non-governmental organization with the mandate to provide a platform for building and strengthening the processes of peace and social change in Nigeria and Africa at large. Established in 2010 by John Cardinal Onaiyekan, one of Nigeria’s most respected faith leaders and a passionate advocate for religious tolerance as well as inclusiveness, the Foundation recognizes that most conflicts in Africa (despite their ethno-religious colorations) are symptoms of deeper structural problems arising from all manners of exclusion – religious, ethnic, political, economic, as well as gender factors, which can only be adequately resolved through governance structures that are both ethical and just.
COFP therefore strives to address these challenges by, among other things, promoting ethical leadership, offering a space for faith leaders, citizens and political leaders at all levels to engage in discussions for peace and development. The Foundation also assist in providing conflict parties with critical skills for peace-building, conflict management and transformation within their communities.
As a Foundation for inclusive dialogue, and driven by the principle of common good in line with the Social Teachings of the Catholic Church, the guiding point of reference for COFP is the Nostra Aetate Declaration of the Second Vatican Council on Interreligious Dialogue and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). COFP is also guided by decades of leadership in addressing social injustice, interreligious dialogue and collaboration for peace and resilience of all Nigerians.
This is why the Foundation is keen to engage with everyone, particularly marginalized groups- women, youths, children and others on the margins of society – recognizing that peace is a condition for transformative development which all must be involved.
The utility of the COPF at this time in the history of the country cannot be overstated. Hardly a day passes without painful tales of breaches of peace in various parts of the country, accompanied by instances of violence and predictably, casualties. It is no more within the terrain of conjecture that Nigeria is at war with itself. And as is not debatable, only efforts at restoring peace remain the way out of its quagmire.
For the Rivers State, the present state of affairs is not at variance with the rest of the country, that is if not more acute. The bigger concern for the state is actually to which extent the situation may impact the forthcoming 2023 polls exercise which is already being heralded by instances of anomie and violence. For instance, just last week there was a resurgence of cult wars in the Diobu area of Port Harcourt with casualties resulting from the fracas.
It has long been established that the primary, causative factor for social turbulence in the state and the rest of the country derives mostly from the chronic state of economic, social and political exclusion of a wide section of the citizenry, with a reversal of their status offering the only way out of their plight, and hence the danger which they pose to the rest of society.
In his private capacity, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs enjoys a distinguished track record as a philanthropist and a social rights crusader, whose mission remains the promotion of inclusion of the down trodden in the processes of social dynamics. His philanthropic outreach under the auspices of the DLB Foundation, has gulped millions in naira as well as dollars and has impacted thousands of Rivers State indigenes across the 23 Local Government areas, not to talk of beneficiaries outside the state.
Courtesy of his personal credentials as a peacenik, he is seen today as the most potent factor that can usher in peaceful coexistence among the disparate communities in the Rivers State and ensure meaningful development. Most importantly his peaceful disposition ranks him as even the man with the capacity to call warring political camps in the state to a round table. He has done so severally and is disposed to do so again, whenever called upon. The appointment of Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs by the COPF, is therefore one such engagements that will expand the threshold for peace initiatives in the country.
Congratulations, High Chief and welcome to another call to national duty, in which your characteristic industry and selflessness will come into play.