Taking All Men Brother (TAMEB) partnered with KAICIID to organize a workshop which was themed Building Trust and Tolerance among Religious Institutions for Behavioural Change and Peaceful Coexistence among Nigerians.
The workshop was a seven-day program, which took place at the Institute of Church and Society, Samonda, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria from the 1st to the 7th of March 2020. There were twenty-eight (28) participants, which included religious leaders, community leaders, youth leaders, media professionals, as well as civil society advocates. The participants were selected from a hundred and twenty-three (123) applications from across the country and from Burkina Faso. They included both men and women from the six geopolitical zones and they cut across the various religions (i.e. African Traditional Religions, Christianity and Islam).
During the workshop, participants were trained in Comparative Religions, Freedom of Religion, Interreligious Dialogue, Freedom of Speech and Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms. The training sessions were highly interactive. The facilitators engaged the participants through lectures, presentations, question and answer sessions, as well as group tasks. On the final day of training, participants were enlightened on project design and were tasked with the objective of designing projects they will embark on in their various constituencies after the workshop. Participants were presented with certificates of participation at the end of the program.
In Nigeria, religious intolerance, rampant use of hate speech and lack of effective methods for conflict resolution have contributed significantly to insecurity, as well as the increase in religiously motivated attacks, violence and insurgency.
We at TAMEB identified the need for better knowledge and understanding of different religions, the need to educate the leaders and influencers on the implications and benefits of Freedom of Religion, as well as advocate for interreligious dialogues and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms as means to resolving disputes and conflicts, in order to quell the hate, fear and distrust that is rampant across Nigeria.
Therefore, we designed a workshop that will provide baseline knowledge on these key areas we find pertinent to the realization of peace and harmony, as well as sustainable development in Nigeria.
Objectives, Outcome and Deliverables
The objectives of the workshop were to:
- Provide participants with foundational knowledge in Comparative Religion.
- Educate participants on Freedom of Religion, as well as on the ethics and principles of Interreligious Dialogue.
- Educate participants on Freedom of Speech according to Nigerian and international laws, as well as on how to promote free speech and curb hate speech.
- Enlighten participants on Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms and how they can be implemented at the community level.
- Encourage participants to design projects they would be working on at their community level after the workshop.
The following are the project outcomes:
- A seven days residential workshop was successfully held in Ibadan.
- The participants gave 100% positive feedback.
- More than 19 participants (67.9%) participated in all the training sessions.
- 20 participants (71.4%) designed projects that will be implemented in their various communities. The projects designed incorporated various elements from the training sessions in their project plans.
- Participants established new relationship and some designed projects they plan to collaborate on.
- Participants gave their goodwill messages to TAMEB and KAICIID and look forward to building relationships with both organizations.
- A WhatsApp group managed by TAMEB was created for participants, in order to reinforce the new relationships, to promote collaborations, to share vital materials and tools, as well as experiences, challenges and breakthroughs.
Implementers and Partners
The project was solely implemented by Taking All Men Brother. KAICIID was TAMEB’s partner on the project.
Call for Application
The call for application was put out on the TAMEB website, social media platforms and WhatsApp groups from the January 14th, 2020 to February 14th, 2020. Applications were received from all six geopolitical zones in Nigeria, as well as Burkina Faso, and the applicants represented various walks of life. Applications came in from adherents of the main triadic religions in Nigeria (i.e. African Traditional Religions, Christianity and Islam), with one applicant identifying as a freethinker. Below is a breakdown of the demography of applicants:
Total number of applicants: 123
Geographical distribution of applicants:
Burkina Faso: 1
Breakdown according to gender:
Number of male applicants: 101
Number of female participants: 22
Breakdown according to religion:
Number of Christians: 83
Number of African Traditionalists: 1
Number of non-identifying applicants: 1 identifies as a Freethinker; Unindicated = 4
The following considerations put in place during the selection process:
- The responses to the questions asked during the application process: The application form included questions that assessed the basic knowledge, as well as openness of the applicants to freedom of religion, interreligious dialogue, free speech and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
- The geopolitical regions: Applications from high risk regions were given preference.
- The religion: Adherents of minority religions were given preference.
- Gender: Gender parity was given priority in the selection process.
- Relevance of profession: Preference was given to religious leaders and workers, community leaders and workers, educators, educational administrators, government workers and administrators, civil society organization workers, media professionals and personalities.
Lecture Day 1
Facilitator: Venerable Dr. Jacob Adekoya
On the first day of lecture, we treated Comparative Religion. The session, which was facilitated by Ven. Dr. Jacob S. Adekoya, provided some enlightenment on the main triadic religions (i.e. Christianity, Islam and African Traditional Religions), as well as other prominent world religions. Then, he shed some lights on the common themes and differences among religions. Some of themes explored are the concept of God, man, sacrifices, sin, salvation, spirituality and the afterlife.
During the lecture, the facilitator stated that for billions of people, religion is a vital way of making sense of their life, and of giving purpose and meaning to existence. He further stated that the first concern of religion is to bind humanity and the divine together, and to bind us together in community.
The influence of religion on politics was explored. He iterated that the separation of Church and State is essentially a product of the eighteenth century, following terrible European religious wars between Catholics and Protestants. He illustrated how religious values and ethics have historically guided societal laws and values, political decisions and elections, as well as how religion has historically been the motivations of wars, ethnic cleansing and persecutions in many societies.
He further explored the relationship between man and religion, as well as how religion has shaped humans and societies over time. According to the lecturer, the success of religion lies, perhaps, in providing powerful explanations, or legitimizing the asking of questions relating to the issues of existence, the cosmos, and the concept of good and evil. He iterated that it may not settle all questions, but it gives many people a way of coping with the problems of their lives, and a means to explore even deeper questions about the universe. He also mentioned that, for others, religion has often been attacked as essentially an oppressive, even tyrannical force. It has been linked to racism, war, dictatorship, sexism and slavery, and every religion has its fair share of guilt in this aspects. According to him, as much as religion has been used to justify human horrors, it is also often a profoundly redemptive and powerful force, providing hope and liberation for billions of people.
The lecturer emphasized that religion should be a private commitment, as opposed to many views that religion is a public affair. He recommended that we focus on the positive impacts and roles of religions in social and environmental issues, as well as work together to quell the negative rise of extremism within so many faiths, which he labelled as ‘fundamentalism’.
After the lecture, participants were divided into three groups where they were given three individual tasks. One group was asked to deliberate on “How the concept of God can be used to foster religious peace and harmony”, the second group was asked to deliberate on “How the concept of man can be used to foster religious peace and harmony”, while the third group deliberated on “How the concept of the afterlife can be used to foster religious peace and harmony”.
Group 1: How the Concept of God can be used to foster Religious Peace and Harmony
Understanding God as the creator reminds us of accountability to him and fellow human beings. Therefore, sensitizing the general public on the concept of “God’s being” helps remove wrong and negative actions. Respecting God with sincerity will help us respect our fellow human beings and live harmoniously
GROUP 2: How the Concept of Man can be used to foster Religious Peace and Harmony
Knowing that human life is sacred and man is God’s creation, there is the need to respect human dignity and advocate for the understanding of the role of man in promoting peace.
GROUP 3: How the Concept of Afterlife can be used to foster Religious Peace and Harmony
With religious teachings in the concept of afterlife, there is a great tendency of harmonious living for a reward of the afterlife.
Lecture Day 2
Facilitator: Dr. Kehinde Ayantayo
On the second day of lecture, which was facilitated by Dr. Jacob Kehinde Ayantayo, participants were educated on Freedom of Religion and Interreligious Dialogue. In Freedom of Religion, we explored the meaning of Freedom of Religion through the lens of the constitutional provisions according to the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, while comparing this to what obtains in everyday living in the Nigerian society. In Interreligious Dialogue, the facilitator explained its meaning, the principles and the ethics.
The facilitator stated that since Nigerians have found themselves in a heterogeneous society, where Christians, Muslims and traditionalist, inevitably find themselves living interdependently and relating at different levels, there is the need for interreligious dialogue where followers of various religions can air their grievances and find solutions. He further iterated that the growing tension, conflicts, violence etc. across the country that are continuously limiting social interactions can only be resolved through interreligious dialogue.
He stated the need for interreligious dialogues with the aim of enhancing mutual religious understanding between individuals, religious practitioners and communities i.e. orientation. To make this work, certain principles should be put in place. These include: objectivity, openness, reverence, sympathy and empathy, tolerance, freedom of expression, competency and knowledgeability
He mentioned that the first principle in having a successful dialogue is to understand that it is wrong for one religion to castigate or look down on another. He further iterated that Nigerians find themselves in their various religions through their upbringing and exposure to religion, as opposed to making conscious choices on which religion to adhere to. He reinforced that it is important that conflict managers (instituted by any authority) are fair and truthful in dealing with conflicting parties.
He further enlightened the participants on the different types of interreligious dialogues, namely: the dialogue of everyday life (in which people of different faiths and spiritual traditions strive to live in an open and neighborly spirit – includes socializing and hospitality), the dialogue of social engagement (in which different religious adherents come together without coercion to take action on common concerns for the wellbeing of individuals), the dialogue of religious experience (in which people steeped in their spiritual traditions share their ways of searching for God or the Absolute – includes prayer, worship, celebration), the dialogue of action (in which people of spiritual commitment and faith collaborate with others in building a just society – includes service and working for justice), the dialogue of religious experts or theological exchange (in which religious specialists seek to deepen their understanding of other spiritual heritages).
At the end of the lecture, some participants were divided into two groups. One group deliberated on how “How Dialogue of Life and Dialogue of Social Engagement can be used to promote religious peace and harmony in Nigeria” and the second group was tasked with the deliberation on “How Dialogue of Religious Experience and Dialogue of Religious Experts can be used to promote peace and harmony in Nigeria”.
Religion was defined as a “social and spiritual phenomenon which involves the grouping of people around a faith”. In order words, religion is an issue of faith. This faith is personal as well as public. Religious liberty means freedom to hold personal faith, as well as manifest it within the ambit of the rule of law.
Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) was defined as the right to choose, practice or change one’s religion without any form of coercion, compulsion, persecution, marginalization and discrimination. Thus, FoRB means the right of individuals to profess and practice any kind of religion or to profess and practice none at all. Therefore, it protects Muslims, Christians, traditionalists, atheists, agnostics and followers of New Religions such as Grail Message, Eckankar, Guru Maraj etc.
It was said that since religion is a universal phenomenon, Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) has to be a universal human right. Hence, many countries of the world have enshrined FoRB in their constitutions as fundamental human right. Nigeria was noted as one of such countries where FoRB is a fundamental human right, which is clearly specified in the country’s Constitution. It was iterated that the secularity of Nigeria implies Freedom of Religion or Belief for everyone in the country, as well as government’s neutrality in matters of religion.
It was also noted by the facilitator that although Nigeria is a secular State, it is a multi-religious and multicultural country where the duo of Islam and Christianity are more officially recognized and patronized than other religions. Unfortunately, in practice, FoRB is grossly violated in diverse ways by government and the people. The abuse or violation of citizens’ FoRB in Nigeria usually takes the forms of marginalization, stigmatization, discrimination, intimidation, restriction and persecution of religions other than Islam and Christianity. More specifically, African traditional Religions is highly marginalized in the country such that many adherents are not as free as Muslims and Christians in exercising their FoRB openly. The stigmatization is in form of name callings and contempt as traditional religions are generally viewed as heathenism, animism, paganism, idolatry, polytheism, Satanism, fetishism, witchcraft, ancestor worship, magic and medicine, and a host other bad labels. Due to stigmatization, many traditionalists secretly practice their religion.
It was stated that FoRB is usually misunderstood as a tool for enforcing interreligious harmony or preserving the existing religious patterns in society. If rightly construed, FoRB should naturally bring about peace but not by enforcement. It is also believed by some that FoRB is an attempt to remove religion from public sphere or enforce privatization of religion. It was stated that this believe is rather erroneous, because FoRB can never be a threat to (inner and outer) freedom of religion. He reiterated that FoRB protects human beings (that is, the person holding religious beliefs or worldview) and not their ideas or doctrines, beliefs or religions. In other words, FoRB protects religious practitioners and not religion itself.
The facilitator stressed that religious freedom is inherently good because it guarantees the right of every Nigerian to form or hold personal beliefs and to express them. Therefore, it was reiterated that there should be no coercion or compulsion in matters of religion. He emphasized that violation of FoRB is closely connected with and threatens other civil and political rights, as FoRB is connected with human rights in general, such as “right to life, privacy, assembly, expression, as well as social, economic and cultural rights”.
It was therefore recommended that government should remain neutral in religious matters. Instead, they should embark on: re-orientation of the electorate; frequent interactions among parliamentarians and religious leaders; protection of the country’s constitution and promulgation of laws on religious liberty; protection and preservation of the secularity of Nigeria.
It was also recommended that religious leaders should lead by example by disseminating information on religious liberty. Although they should not compromise their religious roles/functions, they should be tolerant of other religions without bias or prejudice. They should provide basic understanding on various issues, such as religious freedom, human rights, basic civic education and studies that promote inter-faith conversations.
As for the community leaders, media, educators and civil society advocates, it was recommended that they propagate information that will promote peace and harmony. The media should be conscious of the religious sensitivity of Nigerians. Thus, it should attempt to conscientize people with their message, and should be able to manage information during crisis in order to avoid escalation.
After the lecture, some participants were asked to deliberate on “The Role of Religious and Traditional Leaders in promoting Freedom of Religion and Belief”, while some deliberated on “The Role of the Mass Media and Educators in promoting Freedom of Religion and Belief”.
Lecture Day 3
Facilitator: Dr. Augustine O. Agugua
On lecture day 3, Dr. Augustine O. Agugua lectured the participant on Freedom of Expression. During the lecture, the constitutional provisions for freedom of expression as defined by Nigerian and international laws were explored, under which the themes free speech and hate speech were addressed. He also educated participants on how they can promote free speech and curb hate speech in their various constituencies.
The facilitator stated that one key issue to note about freedom of speech is that it does not confer on anyone the privilege to have others hurt with words of one’s mouth. Rather, freedom of speech is noted to be the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds by any means. In this sense, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) declared that: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference, and to seek, receive and impact information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.
He further stated that free speech is inherent in man. Therefore, the capacity to freely express ideas which one holds. He highlighted that some people hold very dangerous views which are myopic, destructive or inflammatory, as well as threatening to the ideas of mutual respect. He noted that there is a nuance between free speech and hate speech, and that there has not been much clarity as to what differentiates hate speech from free speech. He, therefore, mentioned that this reason informed governments’ action to regulate free speech through legislate acts. He noted that their targets here are hate speech, which has to do with any expressed idea that denies the need for mutual coexistence.
Moreover, he iterated that any speech which denigrates a group, a sub-group or a nation, an organization or a movement, is considered hate speech. For instance, abusive or threatening speech or writing that expresses prejudice against a particular group, especially on the basis of race, religion or sexual orientation are termed hate speech. Therefore, hate speeches usually do not recognize niceties of mutual coexistence. They are one sided and are often the product of ignorance or refusal to see the other side of things as noted in the psychological precept of cognitive dissonance.
He explained that hate speech has effect on progress and development of any nation especially Nigeria. Hate speech could have great negative impact on the nation’s economy because the tension created by hate speech is likely to lead to the exit of foreign investors, thereby affecting local investors as well. In politics, he stated that electoral violence is noted to be the greatest consequence of hate speech. He also said that hate speech violates the individual’s dignity, resulting in humiliation, distress and psychological or emotional pain. Victims of hate speech often become depressed, agonized and sometimes suicidal, losing their confidence and self-esteem. Therefore, there has been much debate over freedom of speech, hate speech and hate speech legislation.
He iterated that each country has devised legal ways of dealing with issues of hate speech. However, the effectiveness of handling the laws dealing with hate speech remains questionable in Nigeria because dealing with perpetrators depends on one’s personality. He noted the problem created by hate speech and foul language on social media platforms in Nigeria, as well as their moral and legal implications on the society and journalism practices. He stated that research found that although many people understood what hate speech was, they did not understand its legal consequences. The research also found that hate speech and foul language is mostly prevalent on social media platforms in Nigeria. Thus, recommended that there should be awareness as to what constitute hate speech; and that a monitoring mechanism agency should be put in place to identify and remove hate speech content on social media platforms. Alongside the aforementioned, he noted that, indeed, social media is one of the last remaining places where Nigerians can express their opinions freely.
Furthermore, he spoke on the hate speech and social media bills. He pointed out their infringements on freedom of expression. He noted that the two bills are set to criminalize those who breach the law with punitive measures like fines and imprisonment of up to three years, solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression. In the case of the hate speech bill, people could face life imprisonment and the death penalty. The implication of the foregoing is that a starting point is to recognize that the line between offensive and hate speech is often blurred. While hate speech—what should be seen as presenting clear and imminent danger; of triggering violence—should be criminalized, the death penalty is certainly an outrageous punishment. According to him, non-legal instruments would be more effective in a polarized society like Nigeria in dealing with offensive and other hurtful speech forms.
He stated that more than just changing the law, it will take efforts from all sections of society—government, media, business, community leaders, civil society, among others — to curb the influence of hate speech in Nigeria. In the same vein, internet service providers should be encouraged to bring down blogs and websites that publish, promote, or provide unfettered space for the expression of hate and offensive speeches. He concluded by saying political, religious, traditional, and tribal leaders must speak up against hate speech (especially when such speech comes from their groups) and make efforts to bring the country together, as silence can be seen as endorsements of such speeches.
At the end of the lecture, participants were divided into four groups where they were asked to deliberate on: the benefits of free speech in the Nigerian society; the dangers of hate speech in Nigeria; the roles of government in regulating free speech and free speech in the Nigerian society; the roles of civil society organizations and the media in regulating free speech and hate in Nigeria.
Group 1: The Benefits of Free Speech in the Nigerian Society
Free Speech will enhance political participation, which will help the government know the needs of the people. Thus, aiding the formulation and implementation of policies in the system.
Group 2: The Dangers of Hate Speech in Nigeria
Hate speech will lead to social and economic instability, abuse of human rights, as well as ethnic stereotyping and distrust which will trigger hatred, tension and all forms of complexities among the people.
Group 3: The Roles of Government in Regulating Free Speech and Hate Speech in the Nigerian Society
The government should promote freedom of speech as a fundamental human right as enshrined in the constitution. Furthermore, government should use the media – traditional and digital – to sensitize the public on what hate speech is, as well as its political, economic and social impact on Nigeria.
Group 4: The Roles of Civil Society Organizations and the Media in Regulating Free Speech and Hate in Nigeria
Both civil society organizations and the media should invest in public enlightenment on freedom of speech as fundamental human rights. The media should also censor the news by making sure they only publish verified news.
Lecture Day 4
Facilitator: Dr. Stephen Faleti
The facilitator started the session by defining alternative dispute resolution as a means of resolving a dispute without having to go to court. He stated that there is a variety of dispute resolution methods, which are oriented towards resolution of disputes without litigation. They were listed as follows: negotiation, mediation, ombudsman, conciliation, arbitration and tribunal. Furthermore, he explained that Alternative Dispute Resolutions (ADR) are informal, allow for parties to control their procedure as well as its outcomes, and allows the possibility of involving third parties that are neutral.
He also highlighted some of the merits Alternative Dispute Resolution has over litigation, which are as follows: ADR mechanisms are comparatively faster and more sensitive to the emotional needs of conflicting parties; it is usually less formal, less expensive, and less time-consuming than a court trial; it gives people more opportunity to determine when and how their dispute will be resolved; unlike adversarial litigation, ADR procedures are often collaborative and allow the parties to understand each other’s positions; it allows conflicting parties to come up with more creative solutions. The facilitator then proceeded to explain in details the following alternative dispute resolution mechanisms: mediation, arbitration and conciliation.
Mediation was explained as a process that helps disputing parties try to reach a mutually acceptable resolution to the problem. He noted that mediation leaves control of the outcome with the parties. It was stated that this usually takes place in a structured, face-to-face meeting with all the people in dispute and with one or more mediators. He continued by explaining the processes that guide a mediation. He stated that the mediation process begins with the mediator explaining the process and then sets the guidelines for how it will work. He iterated that the mediator must ensure each person has a chance to talk, be heard and respond to the issues raised. He highlighted that the mediator must keep everyone focused on communicating and resolving the dispute, rather than focusing on the issues. The mediator must ask questions to help people identify and communicate what their goals and desires are, and why they feel the way they do. He stated that the mediator must then help clarify the issues and suggest ways of discussing the dispute. He noted that the mediator must help the people in dispute develop options and consider whether possible solutions are realistic. They must also try to assist the parties reach an agreement where appropriate and make sure everyone understands the agreement reached. The mediator can further refer the parties to other helpful services if required.
He stressed that the mediator should remain neutral. That means a mediator should: not take sides, not make decision, not suggest solutions to the disputing parties, not tell the conflicting parties what should be agreed upon, not give legal, financial or other expert advice, nor provide counseling during the session. Rather, the mediator must focus on finding solutions that everyone can live with instead of passing judgement on the issues. He also stated that in the event that either parties needs any advice or counseling, this can be done before, during or after mediation. He reiterated that the decision to get further advice and counseling must be at the discretion of the disputing parties.
The facilitator proceeded by educating participants on Arbitration. He explained that a neutral person called an “arbitrator” hears arguments and evidence from each side and then decides the outcome of the dispute. He noted that arbitration is less formal than a trial, and that the rules of evidence are often relaxed and the outcome of the arbitration may be either “binding” or “nonbinding”. He then highlighted the differences between arbitration and other forms of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, which are: the people in dispute need to agree before the process that the arbitrator’s decision will be binding and enforceable; there is a much greater need to produce evidence or facts; there may be one arbitrator or a group of arbitrators to hear the dispute; the arbitrator may be a specialist in the subject matter of the dispute or have legal qualifications; the arbitrator will make a decision for the parties at the conclusion of the process. He stated that arbitration may be appropriate in cases: where the parties want another person to decide the outcome of their dispute for them, but would like to avoid the formality, time and expense of a trial; for complex matters where the parties want a decision-maker who has training or experience in the subject matter of the dispute.
The facilitator carried on with the lecture by shedding light on the conciliation process. As explained by the lecturer, the conciliator helps people in a dispute to identify the disputed issues, develop options, consider alternatives and try to reach an agreement. A conciliator may have professional expertise in the subject matter in dispute and will generally provide advice about the issues and the options for resolution. However, the conciliator will not make a judgment or decision about the dispute. Conciliation may be voluntary, court ordered or required as part of a contract. It is often part of a court or government agency process. It was stressed that a conciliator must remain neutral. That is: a conciliator must not take sides or make a decision, must not tell the disputing parties what decision to make, not decide who is right or wrong, nor provide counseling to the disputing parties. However, the conciliator may make suggestions to the disputing parties. He stated that conciliation may be suitable for those who want to reach an agreement on some technical and legal issues, those who want to make the decision with the other participants involved, those who want advice on the facts in the dispute, and those who have tried mediation and still cannot reach agreement with the other participants.
He concluded the lecture by highlighting facts to consider before choosing the appropriate dispute resolution method. They are as follows: character of a dispute; personal features of the parties; negotiation style of the parties; financial status of the parties; time limits for resolution; duration of relations between the parties; level of personal emotional involvement of the parties in a dispute; level of the conflict escalation.
He then proceeded by giving the participants group tasks that assessed their understanding of the lecture. Two groups were presented with a real life mediation case and they were asked to dramatize the mediation process for the evaluation of the entire class. The other two groups were given a task that tested definition of morality and proved that moral standard vary from one person to another. Thus, the need for tolerance and openness in alternative dispute resolution.
Lecture Day 5
Facilitator: Mr. Adekola Oluwawunsi, Mr. Omoyemi Oni and Ms. Iyabo Ogundiran
The fifth and final day of lecture was dedicated to project design. The session began with each participant introducing themselves, their areas of advocacy, what new knowledge and skills they had acquired, and in what areas they plan to implement them in their processes.
Afterwards, Mr. Adekola Oluwawunsi enlightened participants on the expectations of TAMEB from their various project designs. It was noted that although project design cuts across every discipline, the projects that would be focused on are NGO based projects, which must foster intercultural and interfaith relationships. It was iterated that the essence of the session was to ensure effectiveness and efficacy in designing the projects, so that they aligns with the objectives of the workshop, as well as attract potential funding and stakeholders partnerships.
He then proceeded by asking participants to explain their various understanding of Project Design. A summary of all the definitions given was that Project Design is the development of content and the framework of a project. They also stated that a project design often includes a project description, objectives, the action plan and the indicators for the monitoring and evaluation processes.
Afterwards, Mr. Oluwawunsi stated that a project is an enterprise. Therefore, project design is the planning of an enterprise. He further explained that the purpose is to structure the project in a logical and objective manner, in order to attract support and funding. Therefore, he defined project design as a creative and scientific method of executing a plan of action. He explained that the process is creative because it requires intellectual thinking, and it is scientific because it involves certain processes.
He listed four characteristics of project design. They are as follows: it should be systematic (i.e. methodical; done according to a fixed plan); it should be logical (i.e. must follow logical reasoning); it should be objective (i.e. must be realistic and achievable); it should be replicable (i.e. can be easily reproduced).
Furthermore, he listed steps for designing a project. They are as follows:
- Identify the need for the project.
- Define the need for the project.
- Formulate the appropriate approach for the project
- Collate relevant research materials needed for the execution of the project
- Sort and organize the necessary materials for the execution of the project
- Verify and analyze the sorted and organized materials
- Proffer solutions to the needs identified by the project
- Commit to writing the project design
Afterwards, the participants were encouraged to design as many projects as they deemed fit, and could choose to either design an individual or a collaborative project. After working on their various projects, they were presented to both Mr. Adekola Oluwawunsi and Mr. Omoyemi Oni for review. In total, eleven (11) projects (both individual and group projects) were designed by twenty (20) participants. The themes of the projects included interreligious dialogue, capacity building workshops, youth orientation and capacity building, community reorientation, peace and interfaith education and capacity building for physically challenged, as well as capacity building, peace and interfaith education for refugee host communities, internally displaced people and refugees. All the projects incorporated various elements from the training sessions.
Some of the projects were similar in scope and target audience. Thus, it was suggested that the initiators of these projects work in collaboration. Some participants designed projects that are in line with existing TAMEB programs. Therefore, TAMEB will be providing collaborative support to the implementation of these projects.
To end the activities of the day, Ms. Iyabo Ogundiran, the Executive Chairperson of the Board of Trustees, delivered special appreciation to the participants and handed out certificates of participation to the beneficiaries. The program officially came to a close when she delivered her closing remarks.
Impact Stories and Quotes
- It is very relevant in all aspects pertaining to the development and coexistence of the different religious groups in the country – Peter Ezekiel (Civil Society Advocate)
- It better equips me on how to go about promoting peaceful coexistence, harmony and nation building – Eric Nwanso (Media professional)
- It will help me design advocacy/awareness campaigns against hate speech, as well as advocacy/awareness campaigns for interreligious and intercultural coexistence – Franca Anaedum Chinaza (Humanitarian/Public Servant)
- The relevance has to do with the new orientation to be passed on to the people around my community for a new Nigeria, where we can all relate with one another in peace and harmony – Hakeem Abiodun Apanpa (Community Leader)
- I have gained more knowledge on the areas of focus. As mentioned, they will invariably contribute to building religious tolerance and trust among different religions in Nigeria – Yusuf Mashood Dagbo (Islamic Cleric and Educator)
Challenges and Lessons Learned
- The facilitators sometimes spent additional time in order to complete their lectures and get the participations of the beneficiaries (questions and answers, and the group tasks). Sometimes, group tasks had to be moved until later in the day to allow participants some relaxation.
- The participants were sometimes overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge and information passed down to them on each topic treated.
- Some of the applicants that were selected to benefit from the workshop could not make it to the location, citing travel distance, high transportation cost and insecurities along interstate road transportation routes.
- In the future, we will be segmenting the different themes (i.e. Comparative Religion, Freedom of Religion, Interfaith Dialogue, Freedom of Speech and Alternative Dispute Resolutions) and handling them in separate trainings. Furthermore, rather than carry out the lectures on each theme in one day, we will be spreading them over a few days.
- We would consider doing regional trainings for future workshops, in order to mitigate risk of insecurity and cost of transportation for participants.
- We would consider including a budget for air travel for participants coming from high risk regions where road transport might prove to be a security risk.
Recommendations / Proposed Areas for Follow Up
- During the workshop, we identified the dire need for specific training on each of the themes we handled during the workshop. Therefore, we plan to embark on segmented intensive trainings, where each workshop will treat each theme over the course of a few days. These will be regional workshops and the course content will be tailored to the needs of the specific region.
- TAMEB will organize a workshop, specifically for educators. During the workshop, participants will be educated on freedom of religion and interreligious dialogue. The workshop will be in collaboration with educational institutions and bodies, so that the curriculum designed can gain acceptance by the Nigerian institutions.
- TAMEB will be following up with all the participants to keep track of the progress on their various projects implementation, as well as identify other areas of need in their various institutions and regions. This will inform us on areas where further intervention may be necessary, as well as possible areas of collaborations.
- Some of the participants designed projects that were similar in scope and target audience. Thus, we suggested to these participants to work in collaboration with one another. We will be following up with these projects and providing support where possible.
- Some of the projects designed by participants are in line with existing TAMEB Projects (e.g. TAMEB Youth Counseling and Mentorship Program). Therefore, we will be providing collaborative support to the implementation of these projects.