By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan
Sultan of Sokoto and Chairman
Nigeria Inter- religious Council (NIREC), His Eminence, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, on Thursday in Ibadan, advocated religious dialogue for peaceful coexistence in Nigeria.
The Sultan made the call when he led NIREC members together with the President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), His Eminence, Rev. Dr. Supo Ayokunle, to Governor Seyi Makinde on a courtesy visit at the Executive Council Chambers, Governor’s Office, Secretariat, Ibadan
He stressed that the time has come for Nigerians to continue to live as one big family by showing understanding and tolerate one another, which is a better way to live as one big family.
“We keep on telling our people to understand and tolerate one another, which is a better way to live as one big family. That is why the theme of this quarterly meeting is apt and widely chosen”, he said
Sultan Sa’ad added, “We want to thank the governor for his magnanimity and wish him all the best in his tenure as the governor of Oyo State. I thank him for hosting us and I pray that peace will continue to reign supreme in Oyo State and Nigeria at large.”
” I am very proud of Ibadan, the largest city in West Africa, and I think people should really come in and see the difference in what it used to be in those days of our nationhood and the new Ibadan and Oyo State, and the peace you are enjoying here now. I believe this is simply based on understanding”.
Lauding Governor Makinde for uplifting Oyo state by taking it to greater heights, the Sultan stressed, ” we want to thank the governor for his magnanimity and wish him all the best in his tenure as the governor of Oyo State. I thank him for hosting us and I pray that peace will continue to reign supreme in Oyo State and Nigeria at large.
In his remarks during the courtesy visit, President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Reverend Dr. Supo Ayokunle disclosed that there has been religious harmony in Oyo State and that the people have been living together in the atmosphere of peace and tranquility, saying, ” there has not been religious crisis in Oyo State and there will never be by the grace of God because all of us from different homes have the two religions”.
” We have been existing together in the atmosphere of peace and tranquility, and that is why we are a Pacesetter state. We make progress because of mutual existence in this state”, he said.
The CAN President added, “we have been discussing so many issues that would have led to crisis across the nation and thrash them in our meeting, which has contributed to the peace we are currently enjoying in the nation. We have always advocated dialogue and it is yielding the expected results”.
According to Reverend Ayokunle, ” the more we have inter-religious education, the better we are. Yes, there are some misgivings about each religion, which some bad elements amidst us capitalised upon to miseducate others to make the people think the two Abrahamic religions are opposed to each other. So, those are the kind of issues we always rise against in our meetings.”
Governor Seyi Makinde while receiving the NIREC leaders emphasized the importance of the roles of the body in sustaining religious peace in Nigeria, adding that the quarterly meeting was coming at the right time, particularly as the general election is knocking on the door.
“What you stand for is what Nigeria needs especially at this time that election is approaching. I know that conversation will take both ethnic and religious colorations. That is why we have been hearing of Muslim-Christian ticket, Muslim-Muslim ticket and all of that.”, he said.
The governor added, “before we did the national convention (of the PDP), we were looking at where the presidential candidate would emerge from – maybe from the South, East, West or North or somewhere in the middle. And even after the emergence of the candidates, discussions have been around the support for either the candidate from Yorubaland or whether the Northerners will support their own candidate”.
“So, we need people like you to speak out in order to douse tension and nudge the nation in a direction of progress. Well, so far, we are not evaluating the candidates on what they can offer Nigeria. It is also gratifying that you moved your quarterly meeting to Oyo State to honour the outgoing CAN President and I want to thank you for that and pray that as you honour one of our own, God will honour you individually and collectively.
“Oyo State, just like the CAN President said, is diversified. Hardly will you see a family in which you would not find the two faiths, and for me as a person, the Makinde you see in my name is my grandfather’s name. He lived and died a Muslim. This is what you see in Oyo State and we live together in peace. So, that is the spirit we have seen around here. Despite our diversity, Oyo has remained a peaceful and welcoming state to all.”