By Marie-Therese Nanlong
Jos —Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha, has assured Christians that the notion that there were attempts to Islamise Nigeria was a dummy being sold by enemies of the country, who were out to plunge it into religious war.
The SGF, who spoke at a two-day Peace Summit organised by Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Northern Region in Jos yesterday, said the Federal Government remained committed to ending the current insecurity facing the country and called for the support of all.
He said: “I must correct the dummy being sold by some rumour-mongers about the issue of Islamising Nigeria, nobody can. I call on the church to always continue to speak the truth at all times. Nobody can kill the gospel, let’s continue to be our brothers’ keepers at all times and continue to preach peace.
“We must reject those who propagate hatred, ethnicity, divisiveness, sectionalism or seek to manipulate religious differences for political gains.”
Also, Major General Paul Tarfa (retd), who delivered a keynote address at the event, urged Christian religious leaders, especially those in Northern Nigeria, to encourage their congregation to participate in politics and vote for candidates of their choice but desist from dragging the church into politics.
Speaking on the theme, “Sustainable Peace and Security in Northern Nigeria as a Panacea for Development: The Role of Christian Religious Leaders, Tarfa added that Christian leaders would be seen to have contributed to peace, security and development if they should, as a matter of priority, forge unity among all denominations and speak with one.
He said: “The role of Christian religious leaders in peace is essential for growth and development of any nation. The subject we are looking at today is how peace and security can be sustained in the northern part of the country as a panacea for the much-needed stability and development.
“One may ask: who is a Christian religious leader? To me, this includes all church leaders as well as Christians who are in leadership position anywhere. Christian religious leaders play a vital role in building peace and security in Northern Nigeria and elsewhere in the country.
“They are at the core of morals of society, which in turn determines behaviour of the people they lead, and the way we interact with others.
“As our West African sub-region and particularly our country is bedevilled with all sorts of insecurity, challenges ranging from insurgency, militancy and kidnapping, herdsmen/farmers clashes, hate speech, religion is slowly and deliberately being exploited for political end.
“Christian religious leaders encourage their congregation to participate in politics and vote for candidates of their choice but desist from dragging the church into politics.’’
However, the state governor, Simon Lalong, who declared the event opened, said the theme of the summit was apt and draws to mind, the necessity of peace and security as a panacea for sustainable development.
He said: “The theme for this summit is no doubt apt and draws to mind the essentiality of peace and security as a panacea for sustainable development beyond our state.
‘’We remain resolute in our commitment to building an enduring legacy of peace beyond Plateau and we shall not relent in exploring all avenues that will help us in the sustenance of peace and security.”
‘’I must thank you for sharing in the conviction that we hold so dearly as a people of faith in Northern Nigeria, and I wish to assure you that Northern Nigeria is project in God’s hand and the strength of our conviction is that we are on a journey to a bright future which id secured in the hands of God.
“As a people of faith, we must underscore our common humanity as we seek to find within the dictates of our faith, those essentials that defines us as human beings and for which, we hold our accountability in that same faith to our callings as Christians.
‘’I am confident that as Christian Leaders gathered on a common platform for the simple task of activating our faith with action, we would be stimulating in the course of this summit the kind of works that will give visible expression to the dictates of our faith, which will further help us identify the onerous responsibility that we have as a people of faith in the Peace Project in Nigeria.”
The summit attracted Christian leaders in the 19 Northern states and the FCT and the National President of CAN, Rev. Supo Ayokunle, who was represented at the event.