Human Assistance Initiative (HUMAI), a non-governmental organisation has, with the support of KAICIID, Dialogue Centre, Austria organised a three-day inter-faith dialogue in Mowe, Ogun State, for youths across the South-west and South-south geo-political zones of Nigeria.
It is to stem the tide of inter-faith intolerance and violence in Nigeria and to bring women and the youths into the mainstream of religious dialogue in the country.
According to HUMAI, the idea behind the forum is also to promote pluralism and develop gender and youth capacities for active participation in interfaith activities/dialogue for peace.
The meeting was well attended by Christian and Muslim youth leaders across Southern Nigeria.
It enabled them, in an interactive manner, to air their views on the best approaches to end religious intolerance and violence and to map out strategies on how women and the youths from the different faith groups can jointly work together to enhance tolerance and understanding while practising their religions.
HUMAI’s National Coordinator, Mr. Ernest Osa Amadasu, noted that freedom of worship was entrenched in the Nigerian Constitution, adding that there was need for Christians and Muslims to respect the religious beliefs of each other to achieve peace and understanding in different communities
HUMAI’s Executive Director, Mr. Patrick Dunkwu, said that the youths should have a place in finding answers to the problem of religious violence in Nigeria since they are the ones mostly manipulated by their leaders to cause violence.
He stated that engagement with young people and the development of practical strategies to deal with youth alienation were critical and must be given priority in inter-faith matters.
“Strategies should not be limited to inter-faith dialogues, which may not reach all and should include those which bring together young people of different faiths under other banners, such as cultural and sporting, he added.
Mrs. Jennifer D. Khadijat, Executive Director of Justice Makers Initiative in Nigeria, stated that in addressing religious conflicts and violence there is need to develop gender and youth capacities for active participation in interfaith dialogue through capacity building/training and activities targeting women and the young ones within faith groups and even in educational institutions.
At the end of the interactive session, participants agreed to work together through an inter-faith network set up at the forum, which also elected officials to maintain constant consultations with one another, share learning and disseminate information on best practices to faith communities as a way of further promoting co-existence and understanding in a sustainable manner.