An interfaith initiative in Nigeria announced over the weekend that it will teach religious leaders in the country's northern states to promote harmony among Christians and Muslims as part of an overall effort to foster reconciliation and peaceful coexistence.
During a stakeholders' forum and celebration of the first year anniversary of the International Centre for Interfaith, Peace and Harmony in Kaduna, co-coordinator Rev. Venerable Mallam said religious leaders play a major role in ensuring lasting peace in Nigeria. He said the goal of peaceful coexistence among Christians and Muslims cannot be achieved if inter-religious partnership cannot be promoted, The Daily Trust relayed.
"The religious leaders will therefore use their existing platforms to propagate the message of peace and tolerance," Rev. Mallam said.
During the forum, 40 leaders from the Jama'atu Nasril Islam and the Christian Council of Nigeria from the northern states and the Federal Capital Territory were present. Muhammad Mai, another coordinator, revealed that they had already trained 55 young peace ambassadors starting last year in Kaduna and Plateau states.
CCN General Secretary and ICIPH co-secretary Dr. Yusuf I. Wushishi said the center was established to respond to the ongoing crises in northern Nigeria. JNI General Secretary Dr. Khalid Aliyu also spoke up and explained that the program aimed to let Christians and Muslims understand what Christianity and Islam are all about and to teach them to respect and to lend support to one another.
Last month, governors who attended the celebration of the Eid-el-Kabir festival urged Muslims to promote unity and selfless service to God and people. Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi also issued a message hailing the Christians and Muslims' continuous efforts to pray for lasting peace and unity in Nigeria, The Nation reported.
Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi, on the other hand, cautioned Nigerians against acts that cause division. He condemned hate speeches and other acts that provoked ethnic sentiments in other parts of the country and said Nigeria's desired greatness could only be achieved through peace and unity among the people.