Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has called for enhanced cooperation and collaboration by Muslims, Christians and people of other faiths at the grassroots, adding that this would deepen the level of religious freedom, promote tolerance, understanding and engender spirit of neighborliness.
Speaking through his Honourable Commissioner, Min of Home Affairs, Dr. AbdulLateef Abdulhakeem, Ambode, while swearing in members across the 20 local government areas and 37 local council development areas, to inaugurate Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) at the local levels, noted that, since NIREC was established at the national level, Lagos alone has been proactive, by going ahead to establish the State Chapter, and by consciously upgrading and enhancing NIREC’s operations due to the continues rewards from the Council’s activities.
Ambode emphasised that Lagos was occupying prime position among other States in the country, adding “Lagos does not joke with the issue of spiritual content of development, and in turn the spiritual leaders have not abandon the State, and with their prayers all our achievements were made possible, beneficial and meaningful.”
He commended NIREC, Lagos State Chapter for ensuring that potential problems were always nipped in the bud, as Lagos has never recorded any religious or ethnic conflict.
Ambode said, it became necessary to take NIREC to the local levels, reiterating that his administration “is about people in the grassroots”.
He enjoined participants to see themselves as the representative of the Government on religious matters at the local levels, and thus must show leadership by exhibiting high level of moral and spiritual responsibilities.
In his own contribution, the Honourable commissioner reminded participants that Christians and Muslims shared a lot in common, and if all the people in the communities were made to understand this, that, there would not be any reason for conflict. He said Christians and Muslims “are similar in many respect” as among others they believed in oneness of God, preach tolerance and understanding, propagate freedom of worship. The Commissioner said he foresaw a future when Christians would be fighting the cause of Muslims and Muslims would be fighting the cause of Christians, based on high moral values and larger societal interest, rather than pecuniary or other selfish emotional interests.
The Chairman NIREC (Muslim), Sheikh, Dr. Tajudeen Yussuf, remarked that Islam and Christianity must indeed come together more now for the sake of both religions and for the sake of larger society. He said both religions “are losing ground, because of new values that question ideal morality and ethics, and increasing adoption of such. Values and morals as preached by holy Bible and holy Quiran “are being held hostage”
He advised that both faiths must confront emerging values such as amoral and immoral ways, propagation of violence, obscene display of nudity, same sex marriage and other ungodly practices. He said the two religions must recover lost ground and this should be easy because both faiths have a lot in common.