From: Femi Oyelola, Kaduna
Kaduna state Governor Nasir El-Rufai has identified ignorance as the major cause of religious crisis in the state
He made the assertion during the joint graduation ceremony for Certificate and Diploma graduands of Kaduna Center for the Study of Christian – Muslim relations held in Kaduna yesterday.
El-Rufai who was represented by his Deputy, Dr Hadiza Balarabe, added that though the state has witnessed many crises due to differences he assured that there is a policy guideline in place on the interpretation of religion, saying that teaching and propagating the message through the right channel will reduce the challenges.
In his remark, Secretary General Anglican Communion Worldwide and Chairman Kaduna State Peace Commission Bishop Idowu Fearon, warned that there is too much hatred, anger and fear among citizens of Kaduna state due to ignorance fuelled by their segregation along religious and ethnic lines, which makes them disagree on common issues.
Bishop Fearon called for more opportunities for citizens of different ethnicity and religion to meet and discuss.
He said though education is a powerful tool to change the world and a premise to progress, “but we also know that education is a lengthy and ongoing process. It does not happen overnight. It requires commitment, investment, sustainability and cooperation.”
“ There is too much hatred in Kaduna state, we so hate each other. That is why we are not making too much progress.
“Ignorance and all that comes with it – anger, fear, hatred, and conflict – happens because we separate ourselves from those that we disagree with and from the ‘other’.
“We might do this out of concern for ourselves – that if we are seen to be speaking with someone who is the ‘other’ that it will damage our reputation with our own communities. But this also happens because of fear and sometimes hatred.
“These are things that we must also work against. And we must resist this temptation to separate ourselves from those who are different and with whom we disagree.
“We must engage in activities together. It is not enough to simply have knowledge and understanding in your head.
“ You must also practice what you learn. Religious leaders can set a good example in engaging in activities with leaders from the ‘other’ religion.
“These examples must be encouraged at all levels, from the top down to children in schools. There is much to do, and education alone cannot solve our problems.
“But where we see progress, we find encouragement. We have made progress here in this Centre since it was founded 15 years ago.
“Many people have left this place transformed, committed to making progress and to being peace builders for our communities. “Let us hope and pray that in another 15 years, the work of places of education like this Centre are not unusual – that what is taught here is common in our schools, colleges and universities.
“That we all know much more about the ‘other’ and that we engage together much more. This graduation is a powerful image of progress and one that we can all be inspired by,” the Bishop said.
Former Governor of Kaduna state and former caretaker chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, Sen. Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi in his address said, peace is vital and a key denominator to everybody.
He urged the graduands to practice what they learn to contribute to peaceful coexistence in the country and show that they value what they learnt.
The Vice Chairman of Kaduna State Peace Commission, Mrs Priscilla Ankut said the commission was established to promote peaceful and harmonious coexistence in Kaduna state.