By; AMOS TAUNA, Kaduna.
The Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III has called on leaders to desist from making unguarded utterances, “particularly the one going round that there is an agenda to Islamize Nigeria”, asserting that “such utterances are not going to help us in any way”.
He sounded the warning Friday in Kaduna at the inauguration of the International Centre for Inter-Faith Peace and Harmony (ICIPH), established to promote religious harmony in the country.
He said conflict had never brought peace, adding that dialogue remains a veritable tool in ensuring peace, unity and development.
Sultan Sa’ad who is a Co-Chairman of the Centre, stressed that “Rather than making such inciting claims, let us come together and see how we can come out of religious turbulence that has continued to threaten the unity of the country.
“We are a multi-religious country because Allah designed it to be so. Let us understand each other and see one another as Nigerians, not as a Christian or a Muslim”, Abubakar said.
Similarly, Dr Emmanuel Udofia, also a Co-Chairman of the Centre said inspite of religious differences, Nigerians could still coexist, warning against inciting comments, saying, “What comes out of our mouth would either build or destroy us.”
Earlier, Dr Yusuf Wushishi, the General Secretary, Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN), and a Co-Secretary of the Centre, explained that the Centre was a product of a collective search for peace by the CCN and JNI.
“In may 2012, JNI and CCN hosted the world Council of Churches and the Royal Jordanina Aal Al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, Jordan who visited Jos Abuja and Kaduna to demonstrate international model for inter-religious engagement for peace.
“The team recommended establishment of the Centre to serve as neutral space to address and prevent conflict across Nigeria and today the centre is being inaugurated,” he explained.
Wushishi explained that the objective of the Centre was to contribute to the process of peace through promoting justice and reconciliation between Christians and Muslims with particular emphasis on northern Nigeria.
He said the centre would monitor and document conflict, create awareness on conflict prevention, protect women and children in efforts to nurture peaceful coexistence and human respect.
Inaugurating the Centre, Governor Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai of Kaduna State expressed optimism that the centre would bring lasting peace for the people of the state and the nation at large with a view of enhancing unity and development of the country.
He pointed that Kaduna State, which used to be a home for all irrespective of religious and ethnic differences had over the years become a theatre for religious and ethnic conflict with the state capital sharply divided along religious lines.
“Kaduna was home to people from different religious and ethnic background, but since the beginning of the 1980s, it has witness 12 rounds of bloody violence that killed over 20,000 people and destroyed property worth millions.
“Kaduna is now divided along religious lines, with the Muslims living on the northern part of the River Kaduna, while the Christians live in the southern part of the river.
“This is the state that we inherited, but the presence of this centre in the state is an indication that the people of Kaduna state would be united again,” he observed.
The governor pledged his administration full support in attainting the objective of the centre, adding that social reengineering was needed to bring the people together.
He said that religious leaders are not helping the issue, stressing that they have turned religious activities into business, thereby emphasizing religious differences to ignite conflict for their material gains without making the followers think of life after dead.
El-Rufai called on religious leaders, particularly the Christian Association of Nigerian (CAN), and Jama’atul Nasril Islam (JNI), to deemphasize religious differences in their teachings to ensure religious harmony and look for ways of uniting the people irrespective of religious belief.
Desist from unguarded statements such as ‘Islamising Nigeria’ – Sultan …Inaugurates International Centre for Inter-faith Peace, Harmony in Kaduna
By; AMOS TAUNA, Kaduna.