By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nssir el-Rufai has reminded adherents of the two major religions that Islam and Christianity both lay emphasis on peaceful coexistence.
He expressed this, while speaking at the Interfaith Forum in Kaduna last week.
“Here in Kaduna, we are blessed with the presence of both Christianity and Islam in huge numbers, and we know that both religions put a strong emphasis on peace. Indeed, the word peace is the second-most commonly used word in the Qur’an after the word Allah.
” The Qur’an calls its ways “the ways of peace” (Qur’an 5:16), it says that reconciliation is the best policy (4:128), and it says that God disapproves of any disturbances of peace (2:205). Christians too are well familiar with Christ Jesus’ gift that “my peace I give you,” (John 14:27) as well as his instructions, when struck, to “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:39), and to forgive our neighbors “seventy times seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22),” he said.
He explained that yet, we know that not every Christian and not every Muslim understands his or her religion fully and deeply enough to recognize this premium that both religions place on peace.
” It is my great pleasure to welcome you all to this Interfaith Dialogue Forum to promote religious harmony in Kaduna State. Religion is a fundamental part of being human and is as old as recorded history – probably older. The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights enshrines Freedom of Religion as one of our most basic rights, and Islam and Christianity alone claim over one billion adherents each across the planet.
“Indeed, many of us do not even realize that both religions recognize that the other worships the same God,” he added.
Represented by the Commissioner Internal Security and Home Affairs, Honourable Samuel Aruwan, he said that religion is central to our identities, and we can be very protective of those.
“And identity issues become political issues, which brings the hands of government to the table, which must make decisions that do not always please everyone,” he added.
The governor admitted that government is a human institution, and so it is not perfect.
“Religious leaders too, make mistakes. We need regular lines of communication and processes of dialogue to work through the difficult conflicts we face when religion and other major identity concerns become engaged in the issues that divide us.
“That is a central reason why the Government of Kaduna State under our watch established the Kaduna State Peace Commission two years ago, so that our state would have a public institution whose sole purpose is to facilitate dialogue across our many divides. I am proud to say that the Commission, under the leadership of Archbishop Idowu Fearon and his team, has taken great strides in that short time to set up some important peace infrastructure across the state,and to help douse tensions during the difficult election period early this year.
“But the Peace Commission did not do these things alone. You were there to help us at every step, and we cannot hope to build peace in Kaduna State without your help. Together you have churches and mosques in every community in this state. Your words every Friday and every Sunday can guide our fellow citizens toward peace or anger. Your good works in your neighborhoods help to mend the tears in the fabric of Kaduna State. And when you reach across religious divides, you prevent the violence that plagues us when disputes get out of control.
“We all know the tensions we face in this state. I thank you all for your efforts to build peace in Kaduna State, and I ask you to continue to work together with the Commission to make our state the leader in interfaith peace efforts in Nigeria, so that through these initiatives we can help to make Kaduna a model of inter-religious peace for the world. Many of you have sacrificed your time, energy and resources for peace and security of our state. Many of you have been called names, denigrated and ostracized but your genuine commitment for the peace of Kaduna State and humanity remained unshaken. We are eternally grateful, and may God bless you in abundance,” he said.
el-Rufai said that on their own side, since they came into office in 2015, they have worker assiduously to address the root causes of violence in Kaduna State.
“Finally, we have established of the Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs in July 2019, with the following mandate:
➢ Coordination of internal security matters and intelligence gathering in the State;➢ Liaison with all Federal and State security agencies;➢ Liaison with the Kaduna State Peace Commission and Local Government Peace Committees;➢ Coordination of inter-faith relations and pilgrimage matters
“All of these have enabled more seamless coordination of security operations and collaborative efforts. We have also increased our intelligence gathering and other gains, which I cannot talk about so as not to undermine our collective security and good will,” he explained.
He reiterated that peaceful coexistence is a priority for them, and they will not relent in efforts towards its attainment.
“As ever our doors remain open for positive partnerships in that regard. I extend my warmest thanks to the FORD Foundation for supporting the Kaduna State Peace Commission to facilitate this important dialogue and I wish you all fruitful deliberations,” he concluded.