By; AMOS TAUNA, Kaduna
The Country Director, Global Peace Foundation Nigeria (GPFN), Reverend John Joseph Hayab, has called for the collaboration of religious leaders with the foundation towards enhancing the sustenance of peace in Nigeria.
He noted that religious leaders have a role to play in nation building, urging them to rise to the occasion and use their God-given platforms to provide care, preach social cohesion and contribute to peaceful coexistence in the country.
The Country Director spoke at the Catholic Resource Centre, Durumi Abuja, during a one-day conference on “Trauma Care, Social Cohesion and the Role of Religious Leaders as Agents of Nation Building”, in commemoration of the 10th priestly anniversary of Fr Stephen Ojapah MSP, the Nigerian KAICIID Fellows collaborated with Global Peace Foundation Nigeria, Cardinal Onaiyekan Foundation for Peace, the Interfaith Mediation Centre and O-Trauma Victims Initiative.
He felicitated with the priest and identified with all victims of the numerous traumatic experiences in the country, particularly in the hands of bandits, kidnappers and terrorists.
Hayab lamented that people have lost touch of their common humanity and that it is only by embracing their common humanity that true and lasting peace can be found, stressing that it was the reason why Global Peace Foundation Nigeria started preaching that human beings are members of one family under God, irrespective of any differences.
Rev. Hayab stressed the need for interfaith to collaborate in the quest for social cohesion and nation building, calling on religious leaders to collectively confront and address the challenges being faced by the society by providing shelter for the traumatized people to lean on.
Hayab added, “Trauma and other security challenges faced by people in our societies are human experiences not religion, it requires religious collaborations to tackle them. It is unfortunate that religion, ethnicity and other lines of divide have encroached into our humanity with detrimental effects, faithful of all religions should collaborate to ensure sanity in the society.”
He called on religious leaders and CSOs to continue in their efforts of collaboration and building a network of peace builders in order to salvage the nation and urged that peacebuilding engagements should go beyond town hall meetings to the grassroots and local communities to promote love, peace, tolerant, respect and civic responsibilities among rural dwellers.
In his remarks, Bishop Matthew Hasssan Kukah noted that virtually all Nigerians are traumatized considering that they live in a traumatized environment, saying that Nigerians are challenged with mental health at various stages and the need for a support system from both the government, CSOs and anyone who can provide it.
According to him,, “the sense of community has been suspended; fundamental issues like trust have become scarce commodities largely because of what the society has become.”
He called for the aggregate of interest of values for the state to resolve all contradictions, stressing that banditry is one of the most terrible things that has happened to the nation with priests being targeted by kidnappers in the country as the church is in solidarity with the nation in its battle with insurgency. He called on all victims to retain their state of sanity and put bitterness behind them.
Fr. Stephen Ojapah, a member of the Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace (IDFP) and a fellow with the King Abdulla bin Abdul-Aziz Centre for Cultural and Inter-religious Dialogue (KAICIID), thanked people for attending his 10th priestly anniversary and the unfortunate incident of his kidnap and the terrible experience of about 30 days with the dreaded bandits.