Kaduna, Nigeria –
Amid concerns over ongoing conflict in Nigeria, the Global Peace Foundation – Nigeria and H.E. Hajiya Fatima Ramalan Yero, wife of the Governor of Kaduna State, hosted a rare Christmas gathering and that brought together Muslim and Christian residents and state government leaders.
Kaduna state is located at the heart of Nigeria. Identity-based violence has hard hit the once-flourishing economy, stagnating trade and industry. According to Special Adviser to the Governor on Islamic Affairs Sheik Haliru Maraya, “Anytime there was violence, the money that would have been used for other developmental projects was used in repairs. And we keep wondering why we are not progressing.” The loss of life and rising tensions among religious and ethnic groups have also contributing to instability.
The One Family under God campaign, launched with support of Christian and Muslim leaders and traditional rulers in Nigeria, has been emphasizing the shared values and universal principles that major religions uphold to foster interfaith cooperation and a sense of national pride to combat identity-based conflict.
“Islam teaches peace and tolerance to all religions as shown in the exemplary live of the Holy Prophet of Islam,” said Sheik Maraya. Rev. John Joseph Hayab, Special Advisor to the Governor on Christian Affairs and affectionately known, with Sheik Maraya, as one of the “Twins of Kaduna,” has reflected similar teachings in Christianity.
These joint efforts are crucial as the nation prepares for the upcoming presidential elections. Not so distant memories of election-related violence and more recent kidnappings and attacks have heighted the concerns about new outbreaks during the elections.
Significant in the meeting were representatives of major Muslim and Christian coalitions. Rev. Sunday Ibrahim, Secretary of the Kaduna State Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) attended with other CAN pastors, women and youth leaders. Imam Ibrahim Mahe of the Kaduna State Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) attended with Imams, women and youth leaders. Both organizations pledged their commitment to maintain peace during the election process.
Christian and Muslim women from different political positions also committed to maintaining peace. Hajiya Fatima Ramalan Yero told the women, “All mothers must ensure that they teach their children the virtues of love, tolerance and respect for the dignity of the other person.”
Among the women participating were Her Excellency Naomi Nuhu Audu Bajoga, wife of the Deputy Governor of Kaduna State; Hajiya Za’uma Shehu Tahir, wife of the Speaker of Kaduna State House of Assembly; Hajiya Halima Hamza, wife of the Secretary to the Kaduna State Government; Barakatu Yahaya Aminu, wife of the Chief of Staff to the Governor; Hajiya Aishatu Ibrahim, wife of the State Chairman of the ruling Political Party; and Habiba Shehu Ahmad, wife of the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.
H.E. Hajia Fatima Ramalan Yero committed to work with GPF Nigeria to take the One Family under God Campaign to every area in the state.
Participants were also given Christmas gifts donated by Her Excellency, Hajiya Amina Namadi Sambo, wife of Nigeria’s vice president, and the wife of the Governor.