Boko Haram can be defeated by Christian-Muslim reconciliation, says Nigeria bishop

The trouble that the terrorist group Boko Haram has caused in Nigeria can be countered with a reconciliation between Christians and Muslims, a local bishop says.

Cameroonian soldiers from the Rapid Intervention Brigade tell a young boy to stay back while on patrol in Kerawa, Cameroon, March 16, 2016. | Reuters/Joe Penney

During the Aid to the Church in Need conference, senior Catholic bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah said the Boko Haram insurgency stemmed from Nigeria's troubled past. He explained that the terrorist group wants to continue Islam's legacy, which was attained using violence and oppression, but there could be a solution to the problem.

Kukah said Boko Haram is only a small manifestation of the conflict between Christians and Muslims. Young Muslims have grown to hate the West because they were made to believe that Islam is superior to other religions, and developing cooperation and mutual trust between the two groups could just pave the way to peace.

"I believe that when these children grow up together, they will learn to accommodate and accept one another," said Bishop Kukah. "Thus they will be able to make meaningful contributions to society — acting as citizens of Nigeria and not as religious bigots who have grown up in isolated environments," he added.

The Nigerian bishop said he has already taken the initial step to reconciliation between the two religious groups by establishing a scholarship fund for poor children from both the Christian and Muslim communities. He is also planning to put up a boarding school that will be open to students from all kinds of religious and ethnic origins.

Bishop Kukah also spoke to Fox News during a recent visit to New York. He shared that Nigeria has attained significant progress in the Boko Haram problem and said the militant group is now on its "last legs" and no longer has stronghold in the country.

Central Africa's campaign against Boko Haram has finally yielded positive results after more than a decade. The government in Abuja had also sought the safe return of the more-than-200 Christian schoolgirls abducted by the terror group in April 2014, even if it had to wage war on the Islamist terror group.

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