Nigerian Religious Leaders Call For Peace And Religious Tolerance

Religious leaders in Nigeria have appealed to Christians and Muslims to live in harmony and promote unity.

At a one-day inter faith conference held in Abuja on Thursday to discuss ways of promoting peace and religious tolerance, the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, emphasised the need for honest religious leaders and scholars to come together to work for the sustenance of peace, religious understanding and respect for human dignity.

Pastor Oritsejafor, the convener of the conference, stressed that under a peaceful atmosphere, religious leaders had the capacity to set an agenda for achieving the desired unity, peace and mutual respect for adherents of all faiths.

He said religious leaders needed to pursue an agenda that would create equal opportunities for all Nigerians.

“We all Know that this country is experiencing serious security challenges and other social vices culminating in most cases in wanton destruction of lives and property, disrespect of the religion of others, disregard and infringement of other people’s rights and sometimes with impunity, corruption, misguided inflammatory utterances that more often than not occasion negative and unpalatable consequences,” pastor Oritsejafor said.

An Islamic cleric, Mr Abdul Isiaq, condemned unguarded utterances by some Nigerians and reminded them of the need for a peaceful atmosphere.

“2105 is very critical in the Nigerian journey to unity, peace and development and as such, political leaders must exercise restraints in their comments

The one-day conference is aimed at promoting religious tolerance and peaceful co-existence among Christians and Muslims in Nigeria.

President Jonathan Visits Warri, Speaks Of Economic Gains

The President has visited Warri in Delta State to join in the celebration of the 26th Jubilee Festival of the Word of Life Bible Church and the birthday of the President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Ayo Oritsejafor.

President Goodluck Jonathan during his address assured Nigerians that the country is on the right path to development in spite of its present challenges, adding that there are evidences of the improvements.

President Jonathan said the Transformation Agenda is on course and urged Nigerians to continue to support his policies and programmes for the betterment of the country.

He said Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has seen a leap by about seven percent, adding that the growth has been confirmed by several international rating agencies.

The President and Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor however disagreed on compensation for victims of Boko Haram attacks in the North.

While the CAN President asked the Federal Government to immediately set up a compensation committee for victims, President Jonathan insisted that his administration would not pay compensation but would only assist victims of the Islamic sect’s onslaughts.

On efforts to restore sanity in that part of the country, President Jonathan said the State of Emergency declared in some states of the North has recorded significant progress.

He assured Nigerians that the Federal Government would continue to do its best to flush out the insurgents and restore sanity and commended the military for being proactive in the war against terrorism.

President Jonathan also assured Nigerians that the country would witness stable electricity supply with the recent privatisation of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and its subsidiaries.

The service was attended by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, his counterparts from Cross River and Plateau states, Liyel Imoke and Jonah Jang respectively as well as representatives of Bayelsa and Benue governors, traditional rulers and other eminent Nigerians.

Blair and Archbishop of Canterbury advocate religious tolerance as panacea to peace in Nigeria

 Former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair and the Archbishop of Canterbury designate, Bishop Justin Welby, have both advocated religious tolerance as a panacea for peace and unity in the country.

Blair who spoke at the launch of the Faith Foundation in Abuja called for the inculcation of the right values especially in the nation’s youths.

He said that religious leaders at all levels must strive to ensure that peace and stability reign in the country.

Blair, who is the founder of the Faith foundation, was joined by religious leaders, government officials and other Nigerians at the meeting which was aimed on how to foster peace and development in the country.

The meeting commenced with an interactive session between Nigerian students and their counterparts from the United Kingdom through a video conference where they shared views on how to tackle issues of insecurity in the country.

The former Prime Minister maintained that the attitude of Nigerians at this point in time should be that of tolerance.

He went further to promise that his foundation will develop ways of engaging the Nigerian youths on how to embrace peace.

Religious leaders, led by the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Sultan of Sokoto, Dr Muhammed Sa’ad Abubakar III, also highlighted steps that must be taken to address issues of insecurity in the country.

“This is an important moment for us as a country. I believe in progressive dialogue. Dialogues where we can set goals and timelines” stated Pastor Oritsejafor.

He added that “to find great people coming from around the world to help us in this, is incredible” as he thanked Mr Blair, the Faith Foundation, Bishop Justin Welby and Prince Ghazi for “giving us practical things to help us work together.”

The Sultan of Sokoto in his remark, stated that “the video conference between the students was an eye opener.”

“What the children discussed captured exactly what we are trying to do. We need to understand one another. We need education to know what our religions teach us. We need to love one another like we love ourselves” he stated.

While assuring of government’s commitment to protect lives and property, the Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Ms Ama Pepple said that Nigerians at all levels also have a role to play to attain peace.

The foundation hopes  to work with local Christians and Muslims faith leaders as well as young people to build sustainable peaceful co-existence through joint leadership, education and action on shared challenges, such as preventing deaths through malaria.

HRH Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan were also at the meeting.

 

National Fasting and Prayer Day: Jonathan, Adeboye, Oyedepo, others to attend

Pastor Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Ayo Oritsejafor, Bishop David Oyedepo of the Winners’ Chapel and other anointed men of God have decided to gather at this year’s National Fasting and Prayer Day on September 22 in Ibadan.

President Goodluck Jonathan, Senate President, David Mark and other top politicians are also expected to be part of the one-day prayer tagged: ‘God Save Nigeria.’

According to Coordinator of the World Christian Fellowship Foundation, one of the  organisers of the programme, Prophet Okoduwa Atorkpa, the theme of the programme was inspired by the Holy Spirit due to the recent insurgency and tragedies that confronted the nation.

He believed that for the country to experience greater unity and prosperity, Nigerians must flee from “all that is unjust and filthy”

Atorkpa, however, assured that the breakup of Nigeria was impossible despite the challenges currently confronting it.

He dismissed the United States intelligent report to the effect that Nigeria will disintegrate in 2015, noting that the words of God speaks otherwise.

Oritsejafor gives final warning to government over Boko Haram

The president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Ayo Oritsejafor has issued what he described as final warning to the Federal Government to employ all available resources like other nations have done to stop terrorism in the country.

The CAN president, who was speaking during a news conference in Abuja, said it is clear that the bombings by the Boko Haram sect is not as a result of poverty but based on religious ideologies used to intimidate and destroy many families.

“The questions we have always asked is that in the 51 years of existence of Nigeria as a nation, who are those that have governed this country most? Most of them are from a particular section of the North,” Mr. Oritsejafor said.

The CAN president further asked what these leaders from the North did with the resources at their disposal in reducing the poverty level in the North.

Mr Oritsejafor said that the church leadership is willing to partner with well-meaning Muslims to fight terrorism in Nigeria.
He warned that the church will no longer remain silent while Christians in the North are attacked.

“The Church leadership had hitherto put great restraint on the restive and aggrieved millions of Nigerians but can no longer guarantee such cooperation if this trend of terror is not halted immediately,” the CAN president said.

No fewer than 20 people were killed while several others sustained various degrees of injury in last Sunday attack against worshippers at St Stephen Catholic Chaplain, Bayero University, Kano.

The multiple blasts were targeted at the early morning Christian worshippers at Theatre Two near Sport Complex, old Campus of the institution.

Attacks a national disgrace 

The Kaduna state Chapter of CAN described the Boko Haram onslaught against Christians in parts of the North as a national disgrace, saying that the Federal Government must rise up to halt the carnage before it got out of hand.

In a statement signed by the Kaduna CAN Chairman, Samuel Kugiyat noted that the continued onslaught on Christians by the sect was a deliberate attempt to wipe out Christians from the region, adding that all political leaders from the region must act now.

According to the CAN leader, it was amazing that Christians in the Northern States were being sacrificed on the altar of the religious extremism of the Boko Haram sect, while their rights and privileges as Nigerians were also being deliberately eluded by authorities who claimed to be just and want peace in the region.

He argued that apart from the killings of Christians in the region, Christians in the predominantly Muslim Northern States were being short-changed as second class citizens of Nigeria.

Mr. Kujiyat said that the Sunday attacks and killings of Christians in Bayero University Kano and Maiduguri were a barbaric and heinous act of sheer deliberate wickedness and persecution of Christians in the core states of Northern Nigeria.

The CAN boss said: “Governments at all levels all over the country with their security agencies have the responsibility to protect all citizens, Christians, Muslims and the non religious.

“Therefore the entire onslaught and sheer killing of Christians with impunity by the Boko Haram is certainly a National disgrace that the federal Government must do all at its disposal to arrest before it consumes us all to which we say God forbid.

“Therefore it is our prayer that the Federal Government with its instrument and legality will arise and seize the opportunity to nip in the bud this ongoing cleansing of Christians in Northern States of Nigeria.”

Oritsejafor kicks against government’s dialogue with Boko Haram

The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor has kicked against any form of dialogue between the Federal Government and radical Islamic sect, Boko Haram.
Mr Oritsejafor who also urged Nigerians to stop harbouring criminals who have been bombing and killing innocent people in the name of religion said that holding any form of dialogue with such groups as the Boko Haram could give room to the disintegration of the Nigeria.
Addressing journalists shortly after delivering a sermon at the 46th annual convention of the United Church of Christ in Nigeria in Kaduna, Mr Oritsejafor said that for the continued corporate existence of the country the government should no longer condone any group threatening the security of lives and property of Nigerians.
He enjoined all Nigerians to join hands with the government to ensure that those who have continued to kill innocent citizens and unleash violence on the people no longer have any hiding place from the arms of the law.
The CAN President also restated his earlier calls asking Christians to defend themselves against any attack on them,  insisting that there was nothing wrong in asking Christians to protect themselves from  being killed by those he called “murderers.”

PUNCH newspaper had earlier reported that the federal government have concluded plans to begin a “mediated dialogue” with the sect.

The Federal Government’s decision is coming on the heels of a statement issued by the spokesman of Boko Haram, Abul Qaqa, on Wednesday, saying that the sect would no longer hold talks with the government.

Mediated dialogue is a form of indirect talks between two hostile parties, facilitated by a third party.

Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a series of bombings and attacks on public institutions and the uniformed services in the Northern part of the country.