UFUK Dialogue: Advancing The Rights Of Children And Family In Nigeria, By Joshua Ocheja


With 18 international experts on family and children’s rights, from 18 different countries, an International Not-for-Profit Organisation, UFUK Dialogue Initiative had lent her voice to promoting rights and privileges of children in Nigeria, when it organized a 2-day International Conference on Children’s Rights and Family in Abuja-Nigeria.

Even though children all over the world are seen as the leaders of tomorrow, millions of them across the world suffer, treated with reckless abandon and impunity, or sold into child slavery. The need to ensure these future leaders are protected and catered for, the United Nations General Assembly on the 20th of November 1989, adopted the Convention on the Rights of Child (CRC). Similarly, the then OAU Assembly of Heads of States and Government adopted the African Union Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child in July 1990. And Nigeria ratified both Conventions in 1991 and 2000 respectively.

The International Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) defines a child as “a person below the age of 18, and urges all governments to increase the level of protection for all children under the 18, regardless of their race, religion, or abilities, whatever they think or say, whatever type of family they come from”

“It’s in line with these proclamations and to further advance the rights and privileges of children in Nigeria, that UFUK Dialogue in collaboration with Arigatou International Prayer and Action for Children, the African Union (AU) and the Journalists and Writers Foundation (JWF) organized the 4th International Family Conference on Children’s Rights and Family in Nigeria,” says Mr. Kamil Kemanchi, the president of UFUK Dialogue Initiative. “UFUK Dialogue intends to open the ground for an academic discussion for the full realization of the rights and capabilities of children” he further added.

The well-attended conference which held at the main auditorium of the Nile University of Nigeria had representations from the government, private sector, religious organizations, civil society organizations, students, parents, and guardians.  Some of those in attendance were the Wife of the President who was represented by the wife of the Governor of Nasarawa State, Hajia Mairo Al-Makura, harped on the need for children to be accorded their pride of place in the society. “This conference is well-intended and highly useful. We all know that the family is the first place of contact for children and whatever they become is always a product of the influence of family” she stated.

There was also representation from the wife of the Senate President, Mrs. Toyin Saraki., Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs Princess Adejoke Orelope was represented by the Deputy Director/ Desk Officer (Youth) Mrs. Olaopa, O.M. and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hajia Khadija Bukar Ibrahim was represented by the Director General of Institute of Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) Prof. Oshita O. Oshita

Senator Binta Masi Garba Chairman Senate Committee on women affairs who was in attendance, in her remark, stated that, “it is essential that a child must be helped, supported and protected against labour exploitation, violence, kidnapping, ill-treatment, molestation, and we all have a role to play” she further averred that parents, guardians, the community and religious institutions must play a part in an attempt to revive the communal upbringing of our children”

The organizers of the event, UFUK Dialogue Initiative agrees less. Mrs. Ayse Yigit, the coordinator of women affairs of UFUK Dialogue is of the opinion that UFUK Dialogue understands the role of the community and family in the lives of children, that is why it brought under one roof 18 international experts on children and family to the International Conference on Children’s rights and family, to provide intellectual answers to some of the burning issues that concern children, and the various factors inhibiting their progress in the society.

“UFUK Dialogue has been in the forefront of promoting peaceful co-existence among Nigerians. This year, we decided to do something different, which is looking at the family and family value system” she stated.

UFUK Dialogue Initiative was founded in 2011 in Nigeria with the mission to foster interfaith and intercultural dialogue, stimulate thinking and exchange of opinions on supporting and fostering democracy and peace all over the world and to provide a common platform for education and information exchange.

Also in attendance at the conference were representatives of the Sultan of Sokoto, the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, as well as the representative of Bishop Hassan Mathew Kukah. The speakers at the event were Mr. Ignacio Socoas, director of International Relations of the International Federation of Family Development, Mr. Iyad Dweika, co-founder of Ramallah Centre for Human Rights Studies and Mr. Daniel Binge, a lecturer at the Federal College of Education, Pankshin, Plateau State.

Mr. Ignacio Socias in his presentation titled Children and Youth Well-Being, is of the opinion that effective measures are needed to support the psychological well-being of children and youth with sensitivity to family situations. “the world is still falling short in its promise and commitment to ensure the right to a safe childhood.”

Other speakers at the conference are Ms. Asma Shadid Kazi, an assistant professor at the Lahore College for Women. She delivered a remarkable paper on Children’s Education.  Another speaker at the event was Yusuf Ozdemir, adjunct professor of education at the Meviana Rumi University; Turkey gave a paper titled “Home Visit’s Effect on Child’s Behavior and Academic Improvement.”

“the status of the child at home and the communication typeset by the parents are two of the major factors that affect the child’s success. In a family, centered socialization process, children gain more skills and manners from which they draw behaviors and patterns that they must pursue. Therefore, it is crucial that family lives support school lives.”

Professor Tawanda Runhare of the department of educational foundations of the University of Venda, South Africa, delivered a paper on the traditional child rearing beliefs and parenting styles and the implication on human developmental needs. “poor parental upbringing, especially erratic parental discipline; parental rejection or low parental involvement in the life of the child can be predictors of social maladjustment or anti-social behavior of the child in the future.”

The International Family Conference is a biennial international academic conference which is organized by the Journalists and Writers Foundation (JWF), which holds general consultative status at UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Its aim is to stimulate interdisciplinary and cross-national collaborations and approach to various family issues.

“at JWF, we think sharing best practices from all over the world and expanding on those best examples for family policies is crucial to keep the family in the core of women empowerment and human rights discussions,” says Nuray Yurt, the vice president of JWF. “I would like to express gratitude to UFUK Dialogue Initiative and Nigeria for hosting the 2016 International Family Conference” she added.

The event also pulled together dignitaries from other countries, and they include; The Minister of Civic Education, Culture & Community Development in Malawi, Dr. Annie Patricia Kaliati MP, the Ghana High Commissioner to Nigeria, Williams Azumah Awinador Kanyirige, The Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, His Excellency Miguelangel Della Vecchia, and The Ambassador of Ecuador, who was represented by the Deputy Head  of Mission, Mr. Jaime Campas.

Also in attendance, were His Royal Highness Dr. Olusegun Salau Oba Yoruba of FCT Abuja, His Royal Highness EZE Dr. Nwosu Ibe Igbo Abuja, His Royal Highness Alhaji Umaru Mohammed Sarki Hausa Abuja, The Vice Chancellor of Ndjamena University Chad Prof. Ali A. Ifaggar, Programme Manager of Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP) Dr. Ukoha Ukiwo, The Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission Prof.. Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, and the Chairman of First Surat Group of Companies., Mr. Hikmet Coban.

Other speakers at the conference included Muhammad Obaidullah, an assistant professor of Islamic studies at Manarat International University, Bangladesh, Henelito Jr Sevilla, adjunct professor and associate dean for administration and public affairs at the University of the Philippines Asian center. And Alexander Schuster, an Adjutant Professor and Lecturer in Law at the University of Trento. He is also the European coordinator of the EU co-funded project “Rights on the Move-Rainbow families in Europe.

Reverend Hans Ucko, the co-chair of the Council for Prayer and Action for Children New York, in his presentation “The Family and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, emphasised on how the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) underscores the important role of the family in raising the child and in respecting and protecting children’s rights”.

He further harped on the roles and duties of the government in supporting the family, and the potential role of religious leaders and faith communities as advocates for children’s rights.

On your wings of compassion…

UFUK Dialogue seeks end to violent extremism in Nigeria


UFUK Dialogue, an Abuja-based non-governmental organisation has called for an end to violent extremism in Nigeria through love and tolerance.

This is a major resolution of an international conference on Love and Tolerance organised by UFUK Dialogue in collaboration with the Institute of Peace and Conflict Resolution in Abuja.

Major speakers at the conference include Cardinal John Onaiyekan, the Archbishop of Abuja, and Dr Rachel Rudolph, an international expert on religious extremism.

Minster of Youths and Sports, Solomon Dalung, who was a panellist, said: “Boko Haram insurgents took advantage of our impatience and intolerance to cause havoc. The Qu’ran does not encourage killing and likewise the Bible.”

Prof. Oshita Oshita, director general of the IPCR said: “The event was aimed at highlighting love and tolerance as veritable tools towards countering violent extremism in the society.

“We cannot ignore the role of tolerance and love in every functional society. And it must be stated emphatically that what Nigeria needs at this point in time is love and tolerance” he stated, adding:  ”with love in our hearts, we would be able to tolerate one another, including our religious affiliation and cultural inclination”

Cardinal Onaiyekan commended UFUK Dialogue for its insight, saying: “UFUK Dialogue must be commended for this wonderful initiative. This is very timely especially in this period of our existence”

On the objective of the conference, director of UFUK Dialogue, Mr. Kamil Kemanci, said: “The conference is aimed at ensuring that love and tolerance continues to dominate our actions, inactions and relationships in the quest to build a better society for all”.

The technical session was chaired by Mrs Sardutu Shehu Mardi, of the Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA).

Ufuk Dialogue was founded in 2011 with the mission to foster inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue, stimulate thinking and exchange of opinions on supporting and fostering democracy and peace all over the world and to provide a common platform for education and information exchange.

June 13, 2016

The Preventive Role of Culture in Women’s Empowerment: Possibilities and Challenges


On the occasion of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW60), Peace Islands Institute, The Journalists and Writers Foundation, UN Women Liberia, Ufuk Dialogue Foundation, The Rainbow Intercultural Dialogue Center and the Thailand Achievement Institute collaborated to organize a side-event entitled “The Preventive Role of Women in Women’s Empowerment: Possibilities and Challenges” on 17 March 2016 at the United Nations Headquarters.

Dr. Nuray Yurt, the Director of Peace Islands Institute New Jersey, delivered a welcome speech and introduced the speakers to the audience. Dr. Yurt said that the impact of beliefs, traditions and cultures could be turned into possible opportunities, which can strengthen women’s empowerment.

The Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection of the Republic of Liberia, H.E. Julia Duncan Cassell informed the audience on women’s life in Liberia. According to H.E. Cassell, in order to meet the requirements of the Sustainable Development Goal #5, as well as becoming active at the political and social life, it is necessary to accept, practice and utilize local traditions and culture. H.E. Cassell finalized her speech by saying “Women do not only want to be seen, but also be heard. In an environment that provides equal educational opportunities, women can do everything that men can do. Give us the chance to rise at the top!”

Following H.E. Cassell`s remarks, Awa Ndiaye Seck, the UN Women Representative of Liberia, stated that culture is not an obstacle to women, but the way its been used is hindering women`s potential. “We can use culture to strengthen women’s status on financial and socio-economic matters by talking about its advantages and disadvantages. In addition, it is not itself that prevents us from doing what we do, but the way we use it, said Seck.

At the beginning of her speech, Roberta Clarke, the UN Women Regional Director of Asia and Pacific, who is also the Representative of Thailand, called the audience’s attention to the cultural movement: “None of us live the lives of our grandmothers or mothers, but nevertheless women have to face inequalities and discriminations in all areas of daily life.“ According to Clarke, the different approaches, visions, models and roots of each country and their circumstances and priorities should be used to enhance women’s status.

Last but not least, Dr. Sa’adatu Hassan Liman, who is an Associate Professor on Religious Studies at Nasarawa State University, addressed her speech on eliminating violence against women through traditional mechanism from the Nigerian perspective. Dr. Liman said that the key strategy to overcome cultural obstacles that prevent women and girls empowerment is to support their education in order to overcome their lack of educational status. Dr. Liman concluded her remarks by saying that “Why we do not use religion to eliminate discrimination and violence against women and support women’s education and empowerment.

Source: Peace Islands Institute , March 2016

A Peace Conference to be held at UN in Geneva


Geneva Peace Conference: Mobilizing Civil Society for Building Peace

The Journalists and Writers Foundation (JWF) and Dialog-Institut, in partnership with other civil society organizations, will organize Geneva Peace Conference: Mobilizing Civil Society for Building Peace on October 24, 2014 at United Nations Office in Geneva. Several important factors for peaceful coexistence will be discussed, including the roles of freedom of religion, media and education as catalysts in the process of creating conditions for such coexistence.

NGO participants will also join the discussion by submitting oral and written statements with regards to the topics of the three separate sessions. Various civil society organizations, NGOs, media representatives, religious leaders, politicians, and educational workers will be among the participants of the conference.

Building on the experience and outcomes of numerous high level dialogues and meetings of the UN, the Geneva Peace Conference aims to foster the mobilization of civil society for building peace, which will offer alternative ways of discussing this topic. Secondly, the UN is still the milieu where the debates on this topic are to be organized. Therefore, the conference also aims to build on the work that has been done so far by the respective institutions within the system of UN and it should be considered as a continuation of its crucial works that has been done so far. In order to highlight this aspect, the conference is deliberately held on the United Nations Day, October 24.

The Geneva Peace Conference will be held in October 2014 for the first time. The plan for the future is to continue organizing it once in every two years so that it will contribute to the achievement of the goal of peaceful coexistence in a more reasonable manner and also will provide means by which the development in that direction can be easily tracked.

Source: Geneva Peace Conference

October 11, 2014



Two foundations – one Nigerian, the other Turkish – are collaborating for an ongoing touring exhibition that covers Ethiopia, Turkey and the US as reported by Okechukwu Uwaezuoke.

Man and Machine by Kelani Abass

A gaggle of artists is not an unusual sight here. This set was huddled around a glass-topped table at the roofed open-air meeting space between an office block and the stately residential building in the OYASAF Lagos Mainland-based premises. OYASAF (acronym for Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation) was co-hosting them this Monday morning (February 17) with two representatives of its Turkish collaborators, UFUK Dialogue Foundation. OYASAF and UFUK had agreed to collaborate and work together on a project, which involved annually featuring Nigerian visual arts in a touring exhibition to various parts of the world.

The inaugural edition of this project has already kicked off with an exhibition which opened yesterday and ends today at Addis Ababa before proceeding to Istanbul (Turkey), Chicago, Washington DC and New York (USA). 

Of course, these would not be this venue’s first stirrings of life. For OYASAF had, just before the end of January, hosted a lecture by the University of Nigeria, Nsukka-based Dr Ozioma Onuzulike. The lecture, which was a review of the art auctions, drew several members of the local art community to the OYASAF premises.

But this gathering was different. It was intended for a few people. Hugs, sometimes followed with backslaps and banters, announced new arrivals. Soon the initial intimate circle around the table extended to other tables. The OYASAF founder and chairman, Omooba Yemisi Shyllon –smartly-dressed in a jacket, shirtsleeve and a denim trouser – emerged from a back entrance to the residential building and announced the relocation to the L-shaped mini-conference centre at the fishpond-end of the premises.

This air-conditioned meeting room, the setting of several lively artistic cerebrations in the past, was just right for this gathering.  On a good day, it would have been capacity-filled. But because today’s gathering was an exclusive one, there were fewer people here and the ambience was convivial.

Dialogue 1 by Tolu Aliki

Basically, it was a meeting between the OYASAF team, the UFUK representatives (Oguzhan Dirican, the president, and Mehmet Sebabli), and the artists. Raqib Bashorun, unanimously endorsed by his colleagues, was the artists’ spokesman. There was a deal to be sealed and all the parties involved must be happy with it.

Sealing the deal meant crossing the “t’s” and dotting the “i’s”, after scrutinising the tripartite agreement on a large flat screen attached to the wall. No one should be short-changed by the deal. 

Fifteen works produced by 13 artists were billed to feature during the touring exhibition.  The one-year exhibition extends OYASAF’s goal of becoming a hub for Nigerian art as well as a point of contact for scholars, critics, artists and enthusiasts. The foundation, in its website, hopes to build a broad international audience for Nigerian art and direct the focus of international researchers, critics and curators towards art and artists in the country.“What we are doing is what galleries do for profit,” Shyllon explained in an interview. “The only people who will make profit from this deal are the artists themselves. They are entitled to receive the sales proceeds if their works are sold.”

But for UFUK and OYASAF, this endeavour is seen as a way of strengthening Turkish-Nigerian ties through art. “The Nigerian artworks will be exhibited alongside works by artists from Turkey and from Sudan – both North and South.”The touring exhibition’s theme, “Peace”, resonates with these troubled times, what with an overwhelming number of conflict zones in the world.  It also re-echoes UFUK’s principal goal, “which is to promote peace in the world and contribute to a peaceful coexistence of the adherents of different faiths, cultures, ethnicities and races.”

Founded in Nigeria in 2011, UFUK was establish to “foster interfaith and intercultural dialogue, stimulate thinking and exchange of opinions on supporting and fostering democracy and peace all over the world and to provide a common platform for education and information.”Only 2-D works were selected by a screening committee constituted by the two foundations and the representatives of the artists. All the works chosen for this exhibition were already existing products of the artists. None was commissioned.

Prices for the works, including additional amounts as percentage margin, were agreed by the parties. UFUK takes the responsibility of caring for the works for the 12-month duration of the touring exhibition. “In the event than an Artist’s work is sold during exhibitions, the proceeds of such sales shall be paid into an account nominated by the artist less agreed UFUK percentage margins,” according to a clause in the agreement.

The Turkish foundation is however required to return an artwork, which remains unsold after the conclusion of the touring exhibition, “in safe and sound condition” within 90 days. Where the foundation fails to do this, it is compelled to pay the agreed sales price less the percentage margin accruable to it within 40 days. It is also expected to reimburse the artist “for not more than 20% of the original net agreed price” where any of the artwork is damaged.

One Specie Different Colours by Adeola Balogun

Meanwhile, UFUK takes responsibility for the proper handling, door to door insurance coverage, administrative costs, production of exhibition catalogues, transportation, packaging and framing all artworks chosen for the exhibition.

Featuring at the ongoing exhibition are mainly established artists drawn from different generations  likeVeronica Otigbo Ekpei, Tolu Aliki, Mufu Onifade, Raqib Bashorun, Toyin Omolowo, Juliet Ezenwa Maja-Pearce and Kelani Abass. These are complemented by a few upcoming ones like Ahmed Biodun Akinrinola, Soji Akinbo, Seyi Ajayi, Adeola Balogun, and Ariyo Oguntimehin.

March 14, 2014