Nigeria: Jonathan Reiterates Commitment to Religious Harmony in Nigeria

Nigeria: Jonathan Reiterates Commitment to Religious Harmony in Nigeria

Leadership, Abuja – President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday said the Federal Government would continue to support efforts aimed at fostering religious harmony despite the challenges facing Nigerians.

Jonathan spoke at a conference on ‘Inter-faith Dialogue and the Quest for National Security,’ organised by the Inter-faith Activity and Partnership for Peace (IFAPP), a non-governmental organisation in Abuja

Represented by Mr Reno Omokri, the Special Assistant on News Media in the Office of the President, Jonathan said the present administration was mindful of the role of religion in peace building in the society.

He said that the Federal Government would welcome suggestions that would boost the existing relationship between Christians and Muslims in the country.

The president said the planned national dialogue was conceived to give Nigerians the platform to discuss freely on the issues affecting their individual and collective lives.

“It is the belief of this administration that religious harmony can be achieved when stakeholders, including government strive to cure the existing unhealthy rivalries rather than suppressing them in the quest for peace.

“This administration will continue to support initiatives that will boost peace and harmony in the country,” he said.

The president said the establishment of Almajiri schools in parts of the North was amongst other measures put in place by government to foster religious harmony.

Earlier, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, stressed the need for networking amongst stakeholders in the religion sector.

Onaiyekan said the efforts of the various inter-faith groups in the promotion of religious tolerance must be put together to achieve the goal of religious harmony.

“These efforts are replicated all over the place and I have attended a couple of them.

“What I want to urge is that all these efforts aimed at achieving religious tolerance should be put together to achieve the desired results,” he said.

Prof. Pat Utomi, who chaired the event, stressed the need for cross fertilisation of ideas in fostering peace amongst the adherents of the various religions in the country.

Utomi said religious harmony could be achieved if there was a deeper understanding of the teachings of the various religions.

He urged religious leaders in the country to make more efforts to ensure that their followers were exposed to the teachings of the other religions in the country.

“We all have an obligation to ensure stability in the polity in order to inspire investment in the society because no meaningful development can take place in an atmosphere of crisis.

“Faith leaders have a duty to ensure that our will come out of the dark and calm the tension that faith has created in our country either directly or indirectly,” he said.

The Co-convener of the conference, Rev. Fr. George Ehusani, said the conference was aimed at fostering improved understanding of and greater interest in the affairs of the different religions in the country.

“The summit is not designed in a typical conference format where papers are presented and questions answered; we seek a robust and genuine conversation amongst participants to achieve religious harmony.

“We hope that it will foster increased information-sharing and collaboration between the inter-faith action communities,” he said.

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