By Emmanuel Elebeke
Minister of Information and Culture, Alh. Lai Mohammed has challenged religious leaders in the country to provide an alternative narration to the distortion of religion that has misled some deranged people who hide under its cover to perpetrate evil.
He also urged religious leaders to serve as an appealing voice to those aggrieved citizens agitating for independent State in the South East by making them understand better avenues to channel their views to government.
The Minister made the call, yesterday, at a one day seminar on peace building organized by the National Orientation Agency (NOA) for religious leaders in the country.
He said “You, our religious leaders, cannot and must not cede the turf to purveyors of hatred and violence. If we put our nation and its unity and development first, then we will have no place for behaviours that run contrary to the national interest”.
The Minister insisted that religious leaders had a duty to highlight the pristine and unadulterated version of Christianity and Islam by reminding all the adherents of both faith that nowhere did any of them preach hatred and violence.
According to Alh. Lai Mohammed, top on the list of these roles to be performed by the religious leaders is the need to de-radicalize those who have been exposed to extremist and violent view of religion, especially in the North-east.
Alh. Lai Mohammed is confident that the involvement of critical stakeholders in the peace conversation will deepen and consolidate the gains of all peace building efforts by concerned agencies of government.
“This conversation today with religious leaders therefore
comes at a moment when we desperately need to maximize the input of our religious leaders and religious bodies toward national cohesion” he remarked.
The Minister restated the determination of the present administration to end the insurgency in the North-east and called for the support and cooperation of all Nigerians to achieve lasting peace.
While commending the effort of the military in the North East, Mohammed said ‘‘the missing link is the civilian component of the war in the form of support from all Nigerians for the military in their efforts to decimate the remnants of the insurgents.
“Our religious leaders have a great role to play in this respect. That is why we will be calling on them in the days ahead to be part of the integrated efforts to rally people of all faith and from all walks of life to support the war effort.