.Warns political leaders against mixing religious sentiment with governance
By Luminous Jannamike
ABUJA – The co-Chair, Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace, Bishop Sunday Onuoha, has enjoined Nigerians to embrace peace and unity, blaming the violence across the country on intolerance and strife.
The cleric also said Nigerians must face the issues of national development and rise above prejudice for the nation to develop.
Onuoha, who is also the President of Vision Africa, spoke at the Inter-faith parley on ‘Building a culture of peace and unity in Nigeria’ which held in Abuja yesterday.
Delivering the keynote speech titled, ‘Enhancing Peaceful Co-Existence and Religious Tolerance in Nigeria’, the Bishop also warned political leaders against bringing religious sentiments to governance, noting that the nation had sunk to a level where elected officials have allowed bigotry to polarised her.
He said, “Without peace, there cannot be any meaningful achievement. No investor would like to establish a business in an environment of rancor and warfare.
“No meaningful development can take place in an environment where there is mutual suspicion. People hardly would trust each other because the faiths which are meant to bind people together end up dividing them.
“Unfortunately, Nigeria has gotten to that level where she allowed religious bigotry to polarize her. We must de-emphasize our faith leanings and rather, emphasize our common humanity and not bring religious sentiments to governance.
“Nigerians must face the issues of national development and rise above religious sentiments if we are to be listed among the developed nations.”
Onuoha lamented that some religious scholars had thrown away their garb of honour in order to take sides or be politically correct.
While stressing that national dialogue across religious and ethnic lines would bring tremendous progress to the nation, he regretted that “Intolerance and strife have been the major factor responsible for violent religious conflicts, unquantifiable loss of human lives and wanton destruction of properties in various communities in Nigeria till date.”
He continued, “Without a doubt, Interfaith dialogue will remove misconceptions and misunderstandings, help each religion to grow and develop mutually, alleviate communal violence and bring peace.”
Other dignitaries at the event include; the Methodist Prelate, Dr. Samuel Kanu-Uche; the Minister of Niger-Delta Affairs, Chief Godswill Akpabio; former Director of Legal Services, DHQ, Air Vice Marshall Ibrahim Shafii; Prof. Felicia Edu-Uwem Etim, and other Muslim Christian clerics.
In their individual and collective submissions, they supported the argument that only interfaith dialogue can make peaceful co-existence a reality in a multi-religious society like Nigeria.