Abuja – The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, on Sunday, advised Nigerians not to allow politicians to manipulate them by peddling hate and bigotry for their vested interests.
The Sultan gave the advice in a statement issued by Mr Dickson Omoregie, the Country Representative of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (ICD).
A copy of the statement made available noted that Abubakar made the remark at an international symposium entitled “Promotion of World Peace Through Inter-Faith Dialogue’’ organised by the ICD in Rome.
The Sultan added that “Nigerians must not allow themselves to be manipulated by politicians who wish to use us to peddle hate and bigotry to attain their vested interests.
“Most of our ethno-religious crises in Nigeria are perpetrated by our inability to have sufficient courage to say no and say to them `count me out.’
“It is essential that we come together to face the challenges of building a just and equitable society.’’
Abubakar also flayed external inducement of interfaith dialogue, especially after a crisis in the country.
He said “we must build the requisite leadership that has the courage and the foresight to initiate and sustain meaningful and productive inter-faith dialogue.
“Our experience in Nigeria has been that we engage in inter-faith dialogue only after a crisis.
“This dialogue is usually with the specific goal of calming tempers and trading blames.
“We must go beyond this symbolic level and engage in inter-faith dialogue as a strategic undertaking which shall contribute to peace-building.’’
He added that such dialogue must involve building confidence and sincerity among faith leaders and embrace followers in a deliberate and systematic manner to ensure efficacy and sustainability.
The Sultan appealed to Nigerians to be guided by common values and work together to actualise values in the wider society.
He also urged the people to respect the sanctity of life, saying “we should find no excuse for anyone who sheds blood, regardless of his or her religious affiliation.’’
He stressed the need to work together to fight poverty and disease in communities and to bring inter-faith actions closer to the grassroots.
He commended Federal Government’s effort in establishing and sustaining the Nigerian Inter-faith Action Association (NIFAA).
He noted that “it is a welcome development and it is our ardent hope and fervent prayer that we should all work together to expand its scope and deepen its activities.’’
He called on Nigerians to strive to restrain extremists through legitimate channels, stressing that “we must all strive to restrain extremists among us through all legitimate channels at our disposal by not allowing them to dictate the tone and content of our relationships.’’
The Sultan was nominated by the ICD as Speaker at the Rome symposium on “Cultural Diplomacy and Religion’’ at the Vatican.
The ICD was founded in 1999 as an International Non-Governmental Organisation with headquarters in Berlin, Germany.
The ICD´s ultimate goal is to promote global peace and stability by strengthening and supporting inter-cultural relations at all levels. (NAN)