Community relations interface – SHELL contracts FEHN

THE FOUNDATION FOR ETHNIC HARMONY IN NIGERIA

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Community relations interface – SHELL contracts FEHN

IMPORTANCE OF DIALOGUE – THE NONVIOLENCE APPROACH.

February 6 - 12, 2009

 

 

From a critical perspective a fundamental aspect of any Community Relations project is the ability to enhance fluidity in the relationship between the communities and authorities involved, inculcating trust, promoting understanding and effective networking channels. As a result of the staggering rate of kidnapping, hostage taking and incidents of operation interruption, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) contracted the Foundation for Ethnic Harmony in Nigeria (FEHN) to handle their Community Relations Interface. As conflict management experts, FEHN brought alive a two day participatory seminar in each community at Umuorie, Elelenwo and Owaza. FEHN used the workshop to re-orient the members of the community toward the activation of civil behavior and dialogue. On the 6th and 7th of February members of the Owaza community of Abia state were under the tutelage of FEHN officials. After the opening prayer, Barrister Allen Onyema, National Chairman, FEHN welcomed all those in attendance - youths, elders and traditional rulers. He expressed his genuine concern for the people and his joy with their decision to learn what the whole world is currently embracing. He reiterated the need for them to understand the universal applicability of Nonviolence and how effectively with dialogue, profitable results are achievable.


The first exercise was the introduction which Barrister Onyema used in teaching the importance of listening as roles were reversed and feedback given. The need to listen in every situation was taught as a good number of conflicts begin with not being able to listen thoroughly. After the introductory ice breaker, the Value exercise was conducted with the aim to teach that as members of the human community what we have in common far outweighs our differences. With the manuals and other writing materials already distributed, the members of the community were fully set to learn.


   

The Kingian Nonviolence philosophy, which had been heard of on several occasions in the region, was taught with various role plays and from the level of response it was clear that the participants had thoroughly grasped the teachings. Other aspects of the teaching like 'Top down Bottom Up' were not left out - the process of creating a merger between the authorities and the grassroots was unfurled. As he taught the members of the communities, National Chairman, FEHN informed them that in Nonviolence the means must be consistent with the goal. He used the situation in South Africa during Apartheid and how they got their freedom as a viable example. Also the progress of the African-American struggle, how they have been able to transcend where they were. The Obama victory was used to exemplify the possibilities of Dialogue – The Nonviolence Approach. 

With the level of awareness already created on Day 1, it was easy to continue the teaching the following day as the review of the previous day’s exercise was encouraging. The next session was on Dialogue. Just like Nonviolence, the principles, virtues and guidelines were taught not forgetting the conditions. Barrister Onyema gave practical examples and illustrated how interwoven Nonviolence principles were with dialogue. The question and answer sessions were quite interesting making credible all that had been taught. The members of the community expressed their delight at the workshop and promised to adhere to Dialogue- the Nonviolence Approach. From the 9th to the 12th of February, the Foundation for Ethnic Harmony in Nigeria went to Umuorie and Elelenwo spreading the Nonviolence awareness. The traditional rulers in all the areas were not left out as they expressed their satisfaction and joy with the new tutelage they were under.

 

At the workshop in Elelenwo-seated at the high table are:

(1) Eze Godwin B. Wodi, Eze Elelenwo Etor

(2) HRH Eze Ike D.O. Chinda, Eze Oha Odani III of Elelenwo 

(3) Eze Wilfred A. Ehoro, Eze Odolukwu III of Elelenwo

(4) Eze Ruben M. Nyeche, Eze Odu III of Elelenwo

(5) Eze Sunny Weli Chukwu J.P.

 

Responding to the workshop at Umuorie, Pastor Godson Enwereuzor stated his joy as the workshop was his first encounter with Nonviolence approach. He opined that for him, “it is positive and has more advantage. It should be continued due to its educative and accommodating process for all." Also commenting in the same community, Prince Chinyere Nkwoche thanked FEHN for the level of exposure to a global ideal, which if continued, would transform the entire status quo.


Needless to say, a most functional aspect of any community development is the people as they make up the community. For FEHN the positive knowledge impartation sets the stage for proper development besides networking and regeneration. With the promotion of Dialogue and Civil behavior, these communities have the tools to reach out at all levels, not just in relating to SPDC but the world at large. With the spread of the Nonviolence culture, FEHN endorses the possibility of change in our nation reaching the grassroots- a most viable spot.