A broad coalition of Nigerian Muslim and Christian leaders, traditional rulers, government representatives, and women and youth leaders proposed several practical measures for tackling the divisions facing the country at a Consultative Meeting in Abuja on May 16, 2013. The meeting was organized by the Global Peace Foundation (GPF) on the theme “The Role of Religious Leaders and Traditional Rulers in Building a Culture of Peace, National Unity and Integration.”
In the wake of recent violence and a declaration of a State of Emergency in three states by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, the leaders offered support for GPF’s initiative in Nigeria uplifting shared spiritual values and agreement on standards of right and wrong as a foundation for social cohesion.
Senator Ike Nwachukwu, a former Military Administrator, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and former General Officer of the Nigerian Army, urged faith leaders to preach the gospel of One Family under God. He also called on traditional rulers to draw up a code of values and publish them for all to know that there is no innate difference among peoples.
“Whatever little effort any one of us can make in this room will move peace forward. Let us condemn wrong doings regardless of religion. Nigeria should be the model to tell the world how to live in peace because we have a balance of both Christians and Muslim.”
Former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and Presidential candidate Mallam Nuhu Ribadu speaks to reporters. Former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Mallam Nuhu Ribadu asked the Global Peace Foundation to continue their work for peace in Nigeria. He called for justice, which he said is in the hands of government, but charged traditional rulers to be bold and talk to government. “Diversity has nothing to do with religion, Somalia is a Muslim country yet they kill one another, Rwanda is a Christian country yet they wasted themselves.”
Bishop Ola Makinde, the Prelate of the Methodist Church in Nigeria, suggesting the inclusion of comparative studies of religion in secondary school curriculum. HRM King Alfred Diette-Spiff, the Amayanabo of Twon-Brass kingdom and a founder of the Peace Builders Association of Nigeria, suggested the formation of peace building corps all over Nigeria.
Women and youth leaders also added their perspective at the meeting. Hajia Aisha Dukku, a former Minister of State for Education in Nigeria, said illiteracy and unemployment are part of the problem. “Our youths are unemployable because they lack the requisite skills,” she said. “Even if they cannot go to school let them develop skills so that they can fend for themselves.”
“Let us condemn wrong doings regardless of religion. Nigeria should be the model to tell the world how to live in peace because we have a balance of both Christians and Muslim.”
—Rev. Dr. Isreal Akanji, Christian Association of Nigeria Chairman, Abuja
Muslim youth leader Yusuf Ibrahim said youths should also be involved in all dialogue processes. “Let us give the youths a chance to go out and talk to the perpetrators of trouble in the land,” he said. He also challenged youths to reject any involvement with politicians in perpetrating evil.
After other comments by key faith leaders, traditional rulers and concerned Nigerians, top Christian and Muslim leaders appointed key representatives to collaborate with traditional rulers to advance the vision of One Family under God. The representatives were called to challenge Nigerians come together based on shared values and a common identity in preperation for the 100-year anniversary of the consolidation of the northern and southern protectorates to form modern Nigeria..
The meeting drew broad media coverage, with 14 print and electronic media organizations reporting nationally.
—Reported by GPF Nigeria