By CALEB AYANSINA
ABUJA – The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Thursday, called on religious leaders across the country, particularly those in the south-east region to appeal to those agitating for the republic of Biafra to let peace reign in the region for even development.
Lai Mohammed, who was speaking at the Peace Conversation with religious leaders organized by the National Orientation Agency (NOA), in Abuja, urged them to de-radicalise those who had been exposed to violent religion views.
He said it is the duty of religious leaders to preach undiluted messages of their faiths and making their followers see the reasons Nigeria has to stay together as an indivisible entity.
“You, our revered religious leaders, have a great role to
play in this respect. Top on the list of these roles is the need to de-radicalize those who have been exposed to extremist and violent view of religion, especially in the North-east.
“It is important for you, our religious leaders, to highlight the pristine and unadulterated version of the two dominant religious faith, Christianity and Islam, to remind all the adherents of both faith that nowhere did any of them preach hatred and violence,” he said.
The Minister said though the agitation for Biafra was legitimate, they should take appropriate channel to ventilate their discontent, while allowing the government address the issues raised, advising religious leaders to serve as appealing voice to aggrieved people.
He said; “At a time of agitations in some parts of the country by persons who believe their interests have not been well catered for in the Federation over the years, our religious leaders can serve as an appealing voice to these aggrieved citizens.
“They can help them understand that while they have the right to ventilate their discontent, there is the need to do so using only the appropriate and established channels while allowing the government time to address the issues they raise without constituting themselves as a threat to the peace of their neighbour.”
Stressing the necessity for peace to reign in the country, the minister said the level of destruction in the north-east region is inexplicable for the government to allow another set of people to plunge another part of the country into war.
“The kind of destruction and devastation that I saw in those areas convinced me, more than ever, that the perpetrators are not adherents of any religion but a bunch of mad people.
“Our religious leaders must make this point loud and clear for the benefit of the gullible ones who may
want to believe that those perpetrating the heinous killings in the North-east subscribe to any faith,” he said.
Lai Mohammed explained that with the effort of the Nigerian Military to restore peace to the troubled region, it beholds on all and sundry to join hands with the government to promote peace in the country.
“The military is doing their bit to restore peace to the affected communities. What is missing, however, is the civilian component of the war, the need for all Nigerians to support the military and also own the war,” he appealed.