By Ochiaka Ugwu
Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar on Thursday cautioned Nigerians not to allow the activities of criminal elements to bring division among them.
The President-General of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs was speaking at the Opening Ceremony of first quarter meeting of Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) in Abuja with the theme, “Together we can grow peace for the nation”.
Sultan Sa’ad who informed that religious leaders have a lot to do in fostering peace and stability in the nation, urged both Christian and Muslim leaders to always monitor what they do and preach to the adherents of the two major religions.
He called for constant dialogue between the peoples to enable them understand themselves and manage their differences.
Sultan who went back memory lane noted that NIREC was formed by both Christian and Muslim leaders with the aim of creating more interreligious harmony through dialogue and awareness.
His words, “We formed NIREC as religious leaders with the assistance of government. It is not a government establishment, but we assist government in making sure there is stability. NIREC is our baby and we must nurse it well to help humanity.
“We have a lot of stake as religious leaders and we must always say the truth. We must not kill ourselves because life is sacred. There is problem in our society and I believe we have the solution. We must not get tired in talking to ourselves. The dialogue must continue no matter what. That is why I am here. Nothing is beyond solution if you believe in God.
“We must identify our problems for us to solve them. We must not allow criminal elements or terrorism to divide us. There is need to come together to fight our common enemy. There is no difference between the sponsors of terrorism and terrorists. We should do things in a way that it does not bring in more problems” he said.
Speaking earlier, Executive Secretary of NIREC, Prof. Cornelius Afebu Omonokhua appealed that the publications and counter publications of enthusiastic Christians and Muslims in print and social media echo the cry from the heart of victims of violence who are longing for justice and good governance rather than inter-religious antagonism.
“Let those who talk and write on behalf of Christians and Muslims do so as the voice that cries from the wilderness to call people to prepare the way of the Lord and make his paths straight (Isaiah 40:3; John 1:43). If you must publish, write as agents of Good News (Qur’an 1 1:2; 10:2)”
He further said that Christians and Muslims have the evangelical mandate to proclaim the word of God in their religions not just to convert others from one religion to the other but to make people have interior conversion to do the will of God and become better human beings.
Secretary To the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha in his address said the theme of the meeting, “Together we can grow peace for the nation” was apt given the myriad of security, health and economic challenges facing the world noting that the combined effect of all constitute a formidable challenge to nation building, development and threat to peace which were values we crave.