By Sam Eyoboka
IN his quest for global peace, General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, Tuesday played host to the first International Conference on the Establishment of the Conflict Mediation Commission, where he reiterated his call for a global enforcement of the various Unit-ed Nations resolutions on the advancement of the culture of peace.
He apologized on behalf of President Good-luck Jonathan who was unavoidably absent, saying that the president had to excuse himself as a result of the happenings in the country, apparently referring to the loss of the Kaduna State governor and four others in a helicopter crash in Bayelsa State last Saturday.
Emphasizing the need for the UN to implement its resolutions in the effort to achieve world peace, Pastor Adeboye, also reiterated his call for the inclusion of a global network of spiritual leaders, academicians and government officials to fight intolerance, racism, terrorism and violence at all levels.
In his opening remarks at the forum made up of religious leaders drawn from the three major religions of the world—Christianity, Judaism and Islam—and handful of academicians and politicians which took place at the Youth Centre of the Redemption Camp on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Pastor Adeboye said “as religious leaders, parliamentarians and scholars, it is incumbent upon us to act to implement these UN resolutions on the ground and to assure that they come to life in the framework of conflict resolution and the prevention of conflicts wherever possible.
“It is our duty as clergy who lead the moral compass for our flocks, as parliamentarians who legislate for our countries and as scholars who are charged with educating our youth and citizens—to make sure that we inspire, legislate and teach the culture of peace to cease current conflicts from erupting,” he stated, noting that the preamble of the UNESCO constitution declares that “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.”
Adeboye explained that the initiative which he had muted earlier at the UN is aimed at the construction of the ‘defences of peace in the minds of men’ by creating a culture of peace as called for in numerous UN resolutions, arguing that a culture of peace is a way to live together which requires “non-violence, tolerance and solidarity while acknowledging and respecting variety of traditions. This is the challenge before us all. This was the plank of President Goodluck Jonathan’s address to the General Assembly of the UN last year when he proposed the establishment of a Conflict Mediation Commission.”
He noted that it was time for the voice of religious leaders, academicians, politicians and other stakeholders to resound at the UN, stressing that he had first advocated the advancement of world peace at the UN in June 2011 in partnership with Knesset Rabbi Zeev, Chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Global Ethics.
Also speaking, the National President of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor who was represented by his special adviser on Anti-terrorism, Rev. Ladi Thompson, hailed the initiative, adding that the gesture will also have certain consequences “because the official inclusion of religious leadership at the diplomatic lexicon where concepts and terminologies hitherto limited to the religious world will come into play. Every religion has within its framework an existing peacekeeping and conflict mediation arsenal with expressions that have to be tempered for the understanding of academics.”
Dr. Tunji Braithwaite in his brief contribution, opined that the world is now seeking peace because because at the inception of the UN, those who drafted its constitution chose to remove God from the document, pointing out that so long as man will not obey the basic divine law of doing unto others what we want them to do unto us, there will be conflicts and wars. Similarly, he said he was yet to see any religion promoting bellicosity or wars just as he gave thumbs down for the Nigerian constitution, saying that it was forced on us by the military and in that state it is difficult to have peace. “Without God and justice there cannot be peace. That is one sure way, we can mediate and enthrone peace in the world,” he enthused.
The Grand Mufti of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dr. Mustafa Ceric defined Islam to mean peaceful submission to God which presupposes that you cannot force somebody to become a Muslim because that would be forced submission to God and God will not accept that type of submission. He went further to say that a Muslim therefore must be a man of truth and what that means is that Islam stands for peace.
The international director of the conference of European Rabbis, Rabbi Philip Carmel, who spoke on ‘The rise of fundamentalism; challenges and resolutions panel’, is of the view that fundamentalism is often twisted to suit personal purposes and therefore twist their religion to achieve their own purpose.
On his part, the vice chancellor of the Redeemers University, Prof. Debo Adeyewa who was represented by Prof. Ahmed Yerima, said education or educational institutions can enthrone the culture of peace by teaching, incorporating moral rectitude so that research efforts will not just be on ordinary social matters but a major course in the institutions.
The Primate of Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh who was represented by Bishop Theologian of the Communion, Prof. Dapo Asaju informed the gathering that there are already two Nigerian universities which have changed their department of religious studies to that religious studies and peace resolutions. He quoted two Nigerian nationalist leaders, Nnamdi Azikiwe and the Ahmadu Bello, arguing over governance in the newly independent Nigeria. While Azikiwe advised his northern colleague: “Let us forget our differences”, Bello retorted, “No, let us not forget our differences but recognize and discuss them; that way we can know how to deal with each other.”
Summarizing, Pastor Adeboye said: “What we have agreed on today is that we need to get the message across to everybody, those in our faith, those in our places of work, those in our political parties, those who are close to us one way or the other, that it would be wrong to use religion to cause harm or despair to God’s masterpiece, Mankind. You cannot say you are serving God or you are serving the cause of God, if in the process, you are bringing harm or death to the number one creation of God. It will be an abnormality that you are killing or destroying in the name of God, because God did not create man so that another man will destroy him.”