The Nigeria Interreligious Council (NIREC) has urged Nigerians to imbibe the attitude of tolerance in their relations with one another for peace and development of the country.
The Executive Secretary of the council, Rev. Fr. Cornelius Afebu-Omonokhua, who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos State, admonished political party leaders to deepen democratic culture to douse tension in the polity.
He who spoke as Nigeria marks Democracy Day on June 12. Afebu-Omonokhua, against the backdrop of good society and the nation’s democracy, said that tolerance and the advancement of democratic norms were essential for an egalitarian society.
The clergy, who described the uncertainty and the less premium attached to human life in the society of late as unbecoming said that, the essence of leadership was for the welfare of the people and not the reverse.
“I believe in a united Nigeria because I do not believe that the problem of Nigeria is ethnicity, religion and democracy. I believe that the problem of Nigeria is more of greed of the few that has put the majority into abject penury and hardship.
“We must not allow greedy people and international politicians f r a g m e n t Nigeria with religion and e t h n i c i t y. The earlier we believe that there is no conflict between Islam and Christianity in Nigeria the better for every one of us and the nation at large.
“This does not mean that Christians and Muslims do not have conflicts. It is this conflict that calls for dialogue, conflict prevention, conflict management and conflict transformation which at the end boils down to tolerance and peaceful coexistence that give rise to even development of our dear country.’’
According to Afebu-Omonokhua, what the country needs is a change of attitude and values on the side of the citizens if the nation must make progress.
“While we pray for good leadership, let us also pray for mental re-engineering of the citizens. “The challenges we have in Nigeria are more of values and vision than the failure of structure. “Leaders may be incompetent in providing security in a particular regime, this does not mean that Nigeria lacks credible and capable h u m a n b e ing s w i t h t h e suff i – cient capacity to lead the Nation.
“We must not allow tribe and religion to be our source of division and choice of political leaders. “ If we must fight, let us fight for supremacy in moral values and technological renaissance,’’ he said.
The cleric said that if every citizen in Nigeria was comfortable, secure and happy, no one would think of ethnic, religious and political profiling. “Our common humanity is a call to common nationality. If we believe that we all came from the same source, namely, Almighty God who is our common Creator, we shall be able to avoid ethnic and religious profiling.
“That we are created human beings with intelligence, soul and spirit means that we need to find unity in our ethnic and religious multiplicity”, he said. The NIREC boss, who expressed concern over the rampant despair and consternation in land, affirmed that our common Nigerian identity should be our strength.
While calling on the politicians to always toe the line of internal democracy in choosing flag bearers during elections, he noted that imposition of candidates negates the principle of democracy.
According to him, this lays the foundation of most crises that bedevil the polity. He stressed that such scenarios tended to cast doubt on the social contract entered into by the people with the state actors. He appealed to the Federal Government on the need to create a conducive environment for unity by strengthening the Police and the Judiciary
“The failure of the Police Force and the judiciary could ruin any nation in terms of security. If there is justice for every citizen, that would go a long way to prevent ethnic and religious profiling. If there is justice, the nation will not need to deploy the army for internal insurrection,’’ he said.