By Ezra Ukanwa – Abuja
AS part of its contribution to ensure national peace and progress, a religious organisation under the aegis of the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, KAICIID, on Thursday, called for strengthened collaboration between religious leader and Policy makers in order to advance sustainable peace in Nigeria.
While bemoaning the level of insecurity in the country, the Country Director, KAICIID, Joseph Atang, said that there is need for strengthened collaboration between policy makers and religious leaders in order to address issues that bring fear to Nigerians.
He made this call during the second quarter policy review meeting of the network of policy makers supporting reconciliation, peace and security in Nigeria, with the theme: “Strengthening Collaboration between Policymakers and Religious Leaders for Human Security Provisioning in Nigeria”, in Abuja.
He said: “we have had religious leaders express deep frustration in their peace work, deep frustration, you ask them why? And we ask them why and they give us all kinds of reasons.
“Many of them have to do with policymaking, policy implementation, even there are problems with monitoring and evaluation of policy implementation. So, we are thinking that the best thing to do is to have a platform for these religious leaders that we are working with, to interact with policymakers with all of you here, so that you know you can work on each other so that we can have sustainable peace in this country.
“Religious leaders, tell policymakers this is what you should be doing and policymakers tell Religious leaders that this is what you should be doing to help us to achieve peace, sustainable peace in this country”, he added.
Earlier in his remark, the Director General, DG, Institute of Peace and Conflict Resolution, IPCR, Dr. Bakut Bakut, also harped on the need for religious leaders to concert efforts with the policy makers to ensure that issues bothering security in Nigeria are addressed.
He noted that security has become a major need for Nigerians, stressing that feasible policies geared toward promoting sustainable peace and unity in the country can not be overemphasized.
“In Nigeria, the quest for security is a basic preoccupation of the state and indeed, everyone. This is because security affects not only the satisfaction of human need but, also, the fundamental issues of survival of the human being.
“Therefore, as important as this security is, certain decisions and policy failure breach its existence in our dear nation. Issues such as, corruption, favouritism/nepotism, armed violence, armed robbery, drug trafficking, illegal arms smuggling, kidnapping, religious fundamentalism deliberately constitute breaches to the security.
“To address these breaches, the role of the religious leaders and policy makers becomes very critical.
“I will like to, at this juncture, refresh our minds about the objectives of the IPCR/KAICIID/NIALS Collaboration which are: to create a Network of Policymakers knowledgeable in the challenges of religious diversity; Identify feasible policy response to the security challenges facing Nigeria that can be addressed through the joint efforts of policymakers and religious leaders; and create a roadmap, concrete suggestions and commitments to serve as a basis for constructive and sustained national engagement.
“Therefore, in view of current happenings in our nation today, it is appropriate to say that this meeting could not have come at a better time than now.
“Nigeria operates as a secular society, but our religious leanings as citizens, have also made us a religious conscious people, because religion itself is one of the cultural pattern of human society which helps to shape and reshape the society.
“Without a shred of doubt, religious leaders have played and still play key roles in shaping issues that bother on the human security of citizens. Experience has shown that the centrality of religion in Nigeria’s society makes it convenient for religious leaders to be involved in different national discourse.
“They have contributed significantly in enhancing human security through the provision of schools, hospitals, manpower development and humanitarian Intervention for national development.
“Therefore, we need to remain committed to this onerous task because working together as policy makers and religious leaders helps us to better understand our diversity and provide us with options to manage such diversity towards achieving a peaceful society.”
He noted that: “The Institute, as a peacebuilding think-tank of the Federal Government will continue to partner and engage stakeholders as well as institutions on initiatives that focus on strengthening religious harmony and peaceful co-existence among Nigerians.”
During his paper presentation on Strengthening Collaboration between Religious Leaders for
Policymakers and Human Security Provisioning in Nigeria, the Vice Chancellor, VC, Al-Hikmah University, Ilorin, Prof. Noah Yusuf, stated that Nigeria is a blessed country but that a lot has to be done to address the myriad of factors threatening national cohabitation.