By SIMON EBEGBULEM
BENIN – Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has urged religious leaders and groups in the country to help build bridges of unity and peace to enhance development.
Speaking to a delegation of Majlis Ansarullah Ahmadiyya Nigeria who paid him a courtesy visit at the Government House, Friday, Oshiomhole said he believes that religion should be used as a tool for peace and progress.
According to the Governor, “I hope that your deliberation would help to contribute to the cause of peace and justice in Nigeria, particularly at this time, when it is an open secret that we have problems in different parts of the country involving people who are restless, peoples who are hungry and angry and there are all kinds of worrisome signals and also coming on the eve of electioneering with the tendency of politicians to put themselves first before the nation, which is unfortunate”.
Oshiomhole noted “it is my hope that various religious groups will continue to help build bridges and help us to build the morals of our younger ones so that we have leaders who are God fearing.
“Nigeria may be said to be poor, but we have enough resources, if managed prudently with the fear of God, our condition need not be a hopeless one. That is what we are trying to do in Edo and we are committed to sustaining it”.
The Governor explained “we have seen that our people are ready to support any government that is committed to addressing their welfare and contrary to the general view that we are divided along religious and ethnic divide, the truth is that Nigeria is divided between the rich and the poor, those who have hope and those who have become hopeless, those who are educated and those who are wallowing in ignorance.
“I think your group like other religious groups should continue to sermonize on the side of moral re-armament on the part of leaders and followers. I am a believer that religion is a tool for progress and unity. It cannot be used for division.
When a Muslim commits an offence, treat that offender as an individual. We must separate criminals from religion because a true believer will not go tyo the church and kill innocent people, go to the mosque and kill innocent people or go to schools and kill children”, he added.
The Governor noted that people bring ethnicity to shield criminals, adding “don’t be tired of preaching the word of God, of remanding us that the essence of our existence is to love one another and to use any privilege we have to deliver comfort to those who are in pain and provide hope to those who are hopeless”.
Earlier, the leader of delegation, Alhaji Mashhud Fashola said the leader’s forum is in Benin to hold their convention.
Alhaji Fashiola said “Muslims are supposed to protect the freedom of every citizen. Fundamentally, every citizen has equal right to decide where to belong and Islam must protect this freedom. Muslims are supposed to be at vanguard of justice and equality”.
He noted that “Islam means peace and if anybody does anything else, it is not Islam.”