By Musa Adamu
An interfaith forum, Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace (IDFP), has called in religious and community leaders to unite against violent conflicts amongst their adherents and followers.
Rising from its first General Assembly recently in Abuja, the forum said it had resolved that both religious and community leaders must work toward peace and tackling conflicts.
According to a press statement signed by KAICIID Nigeria’s Country Expert, Mr. Joseph Atang, the forum, it called on religious and community leaders in Nigeria to preach truth to overcome religious and tribal differences and work together as a family for peace.
It quoted Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, who spoke at the event, as calling on both religious and community leaders to overcome problems in the country by speaking the truth at all times, enjoying clerics and community leaders to believe and trust one another, and not call upon their followers to take up arms.
He said: “What we need is to sit down and dialogue. As religious leaders, we have to be very careful with what we say, because it carries weight, our followers listen to us very seriously. We must believe in one another, trust and love ourselves because that is what our two major religions advocate. We must continue to speak with one voice.”
Representative of the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Bishop of Yola Catholic Diocese, Stephen D. Mamza, noted that it was the first that the two groups would speak with one voice.
He further called on religious leaders to avoid divisive rhetoric and to approach peace as Nigerians, rather than be split among religious, ethnic or tribal lines.
He said: “We religious leaders, we serve people a lot. We say one thing when we have another thing in mind. Our tribal and religious affiliations have overshadowed our Nigerianness.”
On his part, Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, noted that: “Nothing happening in this country is beyond us. We should not be praying for peace, when in the real sense, we are the ones causing crises everywhere. Talking for peace will give peace if there is truth. So, we must learn to build trust, trusting one another.”
The Conference was organized by the Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace in partnership with the Vienna-based KAICIID International Dialogue Centre in Austria.
Nigerian partners in the IDFP are the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, the Interfaith Mediation Centre and the Kukah Centre.