Religious Leaders Seek Stronger Muslim-Christian Relationship

Religious Leaders Seek Stronger Muslim-Christian RelationshipReligious leaders are seeking for stronger Muslim-Christian relations, to end the ethno-religious conflicts that have engulfed Southern Kaduna and other parts of Nigeria over the years.

The leaders, including the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, and Sheik Ahmed Gumi, made the call at the graduation ceremony of some clerics from the Christian-Muslim Relations Centre in Kaduna State.

They identified ignorance about the teachings of Islam and Christianity as largely responsible for the various ethno-religious conflicts across the country.

The clerics asked government to rise up to its responsibilities of protecting lives and property, and to also ensure that those responsible for the Southern Kaduna crises were brought to justice.

Speaking at the ceremony, the General Secretary of the Anglican Church Worldwide and Founder of the Centre, Bishop Idowu Fearon, noted that diversity in religion and tribe is a blessing from God and not a tool for division.

“Kaduna will become a state where Christians and Muslims, in spite of our differences, can work together for peace, freedom and the culture of respect,” he said.

On his part, Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, condemned the killing of innocent people in Southern Kaduna by gunmen.

He also warned religious, political and traditional rulers against making inflammatory statements that can worsen the situation.

“The responsibility of all persons of faith is so immense, including the obligation to uphold truth and to promote ethical conduct and respect for others.

“Anybody that wishes to be magisterial to issue statements laden with certainty to their followers must first ensure that what they say, or what they are saying is not only factual, but does not violate any laws”, he warned.

The Christian-Muslim Relations Centre is founded to serve as a veritable platform for genuine interaction, and to promote harmonious relationship among Christians and Muslims in Kaduna State.

Stakeholders expressed hope that the engagement would continue to promote interfaith platforms for religious scholars and leaders, as well as foster religious freedom among others.

Buhari Asks Nigerians To Be Patient

Buhari Asks Nigerians To Be PatientPresident Muhammadu Buhari says he is yet to recover from the shock he received when he discovered that the past governments did not save from the resources from oil boom in the country.

The President was speaking in his residence while addressing Christian faithful who came to pay Christmas homage to him in the Presidential Villa.

The group was led by the Archbishop John Cardinal Onaiyekan, the Primate of the Anglican Communion, Dr Nicholas Okoh, the chairman of the Abuja chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria.

President Buhari reiterated the tripod issues on which his administration stands beginning with security, fight against corruption and infrastructure development and job creation.

“I believe some of you were following us during our campaigns and what we identified is still our fundamental fulcrum.

“Number one is security and we kept on saying that whether is it an organisation or a country, you have to secure it before you can manage it properly,” he said.

On the lack of savings by previous governments, he explained that the situation has made things quite difficult for his administration.

He pleaded with Nigerians to be patient with the administration as it tackles the problems of insecurity, unemployment and infrastructure.

“I am looking forward to having people discuss with their colleagues to be patient with the government.

“We are always thinking about our country and our people and God in His infinite mercies has given Nigeria a lot of preachers.

“In terms of resources; both human and material, we better leave something for our children and grandchildren,” he said.

He also pleaded with the militants in the Niger Delta to be ready to discuss with government on how to share the resources in the Niger Delta region, especially now that the war against Boko Haram has been won.

Among the guests were friends and well-wishers from the Muslim community.

It has always been a tradition that they join the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory to pay homage to the President during festivities and to also pray for him.

They did not visit empty handed, as they presented the President with giant Christmas cards and other items in form of artwork.

Osinbajo Links Terrorism To Bad Religious Doctrines

Religious leaders and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has blamed bad religious doctrines for increased terrorism, violence and armed conflicts around the world.

The Vice President made the observation at a meeting on Wednesday with 200 world religious leaders in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

Apostles Of Hatred

He advised the clerics to do all within their power to disqualify all apostles of hatred and bad doctrines across the world.

Professor Osinbajo says the government is determined to protect the sanctity of every human and their right to belong to any religion.

World leaders have moved away from talk to downright action over the last decade to confront the issue of religious extremism.

Various forms of violence have risen owing to bad doctrines, a development that prompted the meeting of world religious leaders, with participants seeking ways that religions could work for global peace.

Niger Republic, Boko Haram
Boko Haram terrorist group has pushed for an Islamic State in northeast Nigeria for over six years

The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan and the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, agreed that the central concern for Nigeria is to uphold her unity and peace through religion.

The high-level international inter-religious gathering will also consider how religions could positively affect and encourage efforts to foster social harmony and economic progress.

Heat Of Insurgency

Nigeria has in the last six years continued to tackle insurgency by Boko Haram terrorist group which has attacked communities in the northeast.

The Islamic group said it wanted to establish an Islamic State and bring an end to Western education in the region.

In the heat of the insurgency, nearly 300 girls were taken from their school’s dormitory in Government Girls Secondary school in Chibok, Borno State, a stronghold of the group.

President Muhammadu Buhari met with 21 Chibok girls released by Boko Haram on Wednesday

The girls were taken on April 14, 2014.

Over 50 girls escaped on the same day from the group, leaving over 200 others in their captivity.

For two years, Nigerian armed forces have made several attempts to rescue them with support from international community, but did not make any major breakthrough until October 13, when 21 girls were released.

Their release came after one of the girls was rescued in May, with one of the terrorists she was married to saying they had decided to come out of their haven due to lack of food and other things.

The Nigerian government said the girls were released based on trust and negotiation aided by some friends of the oil-rich nation.

On Wednesday, the 21 released girls met with President Muhammadu Buhari, with the President assuring them that the government would rehabilitate them, and ensure that their reintegration back to the Society is done as quickly as possible.


Bishops Urge Government To Respect Freedom Of Worship

Bishop Augustine Kasujja says legislations must not take away the people’s freedom of religion

Bishops of Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa (RECOWA) have appealed to governments at all levels not to truncate the people’s rights to freedom of worship.

Addressing reporters at a meeting in Abuja on Tuesday the Apostolic Nuncio of the conference, Bishop Augustine Kasujja, said people were being persecuted under the guise of culture and that there was an urgent need to reverse the trend.

“By this type of persecution, one is persecuted not because one confesses Christ but because one wants to have and manifest the values of the children of God.

“In that sense we see everyday certain authorities making modern laws which oblige individuals or the entire nation to adopt legislations which they would not have desired.

“Such a persecution goes against the freedom of the people and even against their conscience,” Bishop Kasujja stressed.

Catholic Archbishop of Nigeria, John Cardinal Onaiyekan

The Catholic Archbishop of Nigeria, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, who fielded questions from reporters at the occasion, advised the government of Kaduna State to ensure the peaceful co-existence of all persons in the state.

He stressed the need for the government to ensure that while enacting new legislations the basic religious freedoms guaranteed to citizens by the Nigerian Constitution would in no way be touched.

No Intention For Interim Government, Jonathan Tells Bishops

Goodluck Jonathan On Interim governmentPresident Goodluck Jonathan has assured Nigerians that he has no intention of heading an interim administration, insisting that “insinuations about a plan for an interim government are tantamount to treason”.

He stressed that there was no such provision in the Nigerian constitution.

The President, who was addressing Catholic Bishops and other congregation at a church service to mark the beginning of this year’s Catholic Bishops Conference in Abuja on Sunday, thanked Nigerians for showing understanding, when the date of the general elections was shifted.

President Jonathan said, the elections would have lacked credibility if they were conducted as scheduled on February 14 and 28, stressing that he could not, because of his personal interest, do anything that would jeopardise the Nigerian nation.

 Elections Would Be Conducted

On insurgency, President  Jonathan told the congregation that the nation would soon be stable as Nigerian soldiers were regaining territories in the north-east that  were in the hands of Boko Haram.

“There is no way Goodluck Jonathan, who was elected by the people, with the clear mandate, will now go and head an interim government without a mandate. So, the only interim government that anybody can contemplate is a military government, which of cause will not be accepted.

“ECOWAS in the first place, will not accept it and that is why we forced Burkina Faso to take the decision they took. AU will not accept it. The UN will not accept it and Nigeria cannot be a pariah state at this present generation.

“Any insinuation about an interim government, to me, is treasonable and people suppose not to talk about it.

“My conviction and very strongly too is that elections would be conducted, as scheduled by INEC,” he said.

The President  further thanked the Catholics and all Christians for their prayers at a time insurgency is raging in Nigeria.

The Catholic Bishops Conference plenary usually commences with a church service, with Catholic Bishops from all parts of Nigeria present.

President Jonathan and other top government functionaries were present as special guests.

This year’s theme centers on “Family as the Fulcrum of Society and any Nation”.

The archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, told the gathering that a stable family had its impact on the nation no matter the differences.

On politics, he said politicians should serve for the good of all, shunning hate campaigns and lies, stressing the need for stakeholders to ensure that the electorates trust in the electoral process.

There were prayers for the church, the governments, those in leadership position, for a peaceful election in Nigeria, the poor and the needy and the internally displaced persons scattered all over the country as a result of the the insurgency.

Cleric Wants Government To Allow Religious Groups Own TV Stations

_11The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, has appealed to the Federal Government to remove the restrictions on the setting up of television stations by religious organisations.

Cardinal Onaiyekan made the appeal in Abuja on Wednesday at a forum to discuss the future of the Catholic Television Project.

In Nigeria, religious groups, by law, are  prohibited from owning local television stations.

He said the electronic media was an effective tool for evangelism and the spread of the message of peace which Nigeria needed at this time.

“One tool in our hands to propagate the gospel is the use of the catholic television as a medium for teaching and edification,” he emphasised.

Nigeria is facing lingering security crises mostly in the north-east. Thousands have been killed and many rendered homeless.

The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja believes that the Catholic Television would help spread the message of love and peace in this trying time.

It is a common opinion of the persons that gathered at the event.

The Director of Communications, Reverend Father Patrick Alumuku, said: “In this challenging time many people are turning to the Catholic Church to seek support and answers to the difficulties posed by moral, economic and political problems”.

He stressed that the Church was looking to address these issues and further propagate the gospel through the television channel.

Akunyili Buried In Agulu

Dora AkunyiliDignitaries from all walks of life including top government functionaries from both federal and state and the clergy stormed Agulu in Anaocha local government area of Anambra state, the country home of late Professor Dora Akunyili to pay their last respect as she is being interred.

The mass officiated by the Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments, Francis Cardinal Arinze, assisted by the Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, John Cardinal Onaiyekan and other bishops, monsignors and priests lasted for over three hours.

The homily, Reverend Father Peter-Damian Akunonu, centered on accepting the will of God at all times no matter how bitter the circumstance might seem to be.

The family and friends of the late Akunyili were encouraged to take the death of Dora as the will of God.

Aside the clergy, many dignitaries graced the occasion, including the former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (Rtd), wife of former president, Bola Olusegun Obasanjo, some serving and former governors, members of the national assembly, ministers and other top government functionaries.

Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State in his remark described Dora as “our mother, who lived a legacy life and would remain the light of the nation because she served the country diligently.”
According to the governor, the late Prof Akunyili, while alive helped to re-brand Nigeria with `Good people, Great nation’ slogan. She hardly changed in whatever she believed in. I want Nigerians to pray for her and emulate her many good attributes”, he said.

Her remains was later laid to rest in her husband’s country home at Agulu after the church service.

Late Prof. Akunyili is survived by her husband, Dr Chike Akunyili and children.

Jonathan Describes Late Dora Akunyili As A Role Model

Dora AkunyiliPresident Goodluck Jonathan has described the late  former Minister of Information, Professor Dora Akunyili, as a role model whose dedication to service  should serve as an example to  Nigerian women.

The President was speaking earlier in a Requiem Mass  held in Nigerian Pro Cathedral Catholic Church in Gaki, Abuja in honor of the late former minister.

According to the President, it was her dedication to service as Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC) that saved many Nigerians from the dangers of fake drugs and employed any one privileged to serve with the fear of God.

Christian faithful from all walks of life gathered to give honour and pay tribute to a great  woman, Professor Akunyili, who departed on June 7, after years of meritorious service to her fatherland.

Eulogies came from  the late Dora Akunyili’s husband, Dr Chike Akunyili. He was full of acknowledgement to all who kept faith with his family following the death of her wife after a protracted battle with cancer.

President Goodluck Jonathan worked with her and he described her life as brief but eventful because of her unflinching service to the nation and humanity.

Jonathan and his wife were among  colleagues, friends, family members and well wishers who came to honor the late Professor Akunyili in the Requiem Mass conducted by Cardinal John Onaiyekan, the catholic archbishop in Abuja.

The clergy called attention to the legacy  Professor Akunyili left behind and said she was the kind of person that impacted lives, in politics, public or family.

Nigerians Have Lost Respect For Elders, Obedience To Authority

The federal government has challenged religious leaders to be in the vanguard of transforming the society and ridding the country of incidents of cultism, terrorism, kidnapping and other social vices.

Speaking in Abuja at the official flag off of the national Christian campaign on social transformation, President Jonathan who was represented by the Minister of Housing and urban development, Miss Ama Pepple, said Nigerians have lost the values of hard-work, respect for elders and obedience to constituted authority.

The President said there is a need for religious leaders to be in the vanguard of transforming the society and rid the country of incidents of cultism, terrorism, kidnapping and other social vices.

President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor and the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, promised that the church will continue to assist the government in promoting the ideals of a good society where peace and justice reigns.

Those present at this event called on Christians in the country to imbibe and practice true godliness that will lead to the transformation of the society.