Onayeikan, Kukah call for peaceful co-existence
-warn clerics against inciting sermons
By Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA-The Kukah Centre in collaboration with Tony Blair Institute for Global Change has called on Christians and Muslims in Nigeria to live peacefully together and eschew violence in the spirit of unity and oneness.
The Centre stated this in a press briefing at the end of a 2-day Christian Leaders’ Training Course yesterday (Thursday) in Abuja which drew 30 participants from Gombe, Yobe and Kano States.
In his opening remarks, Arthur Agienam, Director, Kukah Centre stressed the importance of inter-faith dialogue, noting that the activities of the Boko Haram insurgency in the last couple of years, birthed a couple of interventions by governmental and non-governmental bodies to seek peaceful means of co-existence amongst adherents of the two religions.
“For about a decade now, violent extremism best exemplified by the Boko Haram sect has become a major security threat to the continued corporate existence of Nigeria. In response, numerous initiatives by government agencies, non-governmental organizations and development partners have been launched to address the problem,” he said, adding that despite the interventions, “it would seem that not quite enough is being done in the areas of reconciliation and peaceful coexistence to stop the ideology that bred the insurgency in the first place and prevent it from spreading to other parts of the country.”
The key objective of the training according to the centre was to amongst others, build relationships of trust among Christian denominations, interrogate Christian narratives and counter narratives on issues relating to violent extremism and the appropriate response top them as well as explore the role of clerics and Christian leaders in community mobilization.
For Bishop Kukah, the conversations are yielding fruits but added that regardless of the headway made in the reconciliation effort, government must rise to the challenge of responsibility. Fielding questions from journalists, Kukah said there’s no place for violence in Christianity even as he called on clerics to preach peace at all times.
“The efforts we are making do not replace the responsibility of government. We can do something by encouraging dialogue because we have no choice but to live together as one people,” Kukah said.
For Cardinal Onayeikan, there is no other choice than to explore a way of leaving harmoniously together in the same country. “If we must survive in this country, we must find a way to live today. No matter what people say, we must learn to live together.
“Some Islamic clerics have given us the impression that violence has no place in Islam. For this, I must say that we should be mindful of the messages in our mosques and churches because this is very important,” he argued.