BY TAYE OBATERU

Jos – The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Archbishop Mathew Hassan Kukah, has described the repeated religious crises in the country as manifestations of the breakdown of social structures which is being exploited by politicians to create disunity.

He said at the presentation of a book, “Peace, not War: A Decade of Interventions in the Plateau State Crises (2001-2011)” by the Catholic Archbishop of Jos, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, that what had been happening was that politicians rather than address the root cause of the problem play on ethno-religious sentiments in pursuit of selfish agenda.

He faulted the tendency to interpret every crisis in the country as a Christian-Muslim disagreement instead of examining the underlying issues that make people prone to being manipulated by such sentiment.

Kukah challenged the nation’s leaders to muster the needed political will to tackle the ethno-religious problem in the country, adding that allowing the social institutions to break down amounted to providing a fertile ground for violence to breed.

He said: “We must admit that these are trying times for us as a country, as citizens and members of different communities. In the heat of these crises, it has been tempting and even convenient for us to create a dichotomy in our analysis.

“However Archbishop Kaigama has emphasised that our identities is not in themselves the reasons for our problems, rather it is the lack of imagination that has denied us  the chance to develop the vision to manage our identities”, Kukah who was the book reviewer said.

Also speaking, Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Dr. John Onaiyekan regretted that violence merchants have found it convenient to exploit religious sentiment stressing the need for decisive steps to check the trend.

He emphasized that majority of Nigerians desired peace but were at the mercy of a tiny minority of “mad dogs”  who want to impose their ideologies on other Nigerians.

The author, Most Rev. Kaigama said he decided to document his efforts at peace making in Plateau in the past decade to show that “The remedy for crisis does not lie in the use of bows and arrows , bombs and guns, but in mature dialogue which to me is an imperative for eliminating or mitigating violence which occurs under whatever name.”

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