VOICES OF THE INVISIBLE STAKEHOLDERS: AN EXPLORATORY STUDY ON YOUTH, CONFLICT AND PEACE BUILDING IN JOS, PLATEAU STATE, NIGERIA

Nancy Nanchin Katu-Ogundimu

Abstract


While the debate young people as threats, perpetrators or victims of armed conflict persists in literature, their exclusion as invisible stakeholders in decision-making processes present fundamental challenges for conflict management and peace building. Since this vulnerable group have the capacity to be threats or facilitators of peace, listening to their voices, particularly the way they are (re) constructing their experiences with conflict introduces new perspectives to this discourse. This study responds to this deficiency. Data for the study was collected through qualitative in-depth-interviews and focus group discussions in Jos, the Plateau State capital. Findings of the study indicate that political marginalization, and social exclusion served as trigger factors for violence among young people in the state. The findings also show although young people feel alienated and lack an outlet to articulate their needs, aspirations and grievances, they are promoting peaceful coexistence through self-initiated non-violent alternatives like peace meetings and mutual participation in religious activities. The paper recommends among other things, that government and civil societies recognize young people as important stakeholders in the peace building process. The paper also advocates the importance of creating of a youth-centered, and youth- specific policy that will provide a platform for youth engagement in post-conflict peace initiatives in the state.


Keywords


Invisible Stakeholders, Youth, Conflict, Qualitative, Jos Crises

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