John Shiklam in Kaduna
The Kaduna State Government saturday said it would continue to collaborate and support all peace building institutions in order to sustain relative peace in the state.
The state governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai gave the assurance in Kaduna at the graduation of students of THE Kaduna Centre for the Study of Muslims-Christian Relations.
The governor, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Hadiza Balarabe, said peace “is priceless. We must strive to sustain it by whatever means in order to continue to experience rapid development in our society.
“People everywhere need to be free from fear of violence and feel safe as they go about their activities. Kaduna is noted for persistent bloody ethno-religious conflicts which often lead to the destruction of many lives and property.”
He said interfaith dialogue “has provided good opportunity to learn about other people’s faith with a view to understand the peculiarities in each others religion.
“It removes the fear that ignorance nurtured and eliminate the hatred that propels extremism.
Education removes the temptation to construe one faith at the repudiation of the other.
“Our state has suffered too much from religious conflicts, the need for quality, religious education, understanding spiritual guidance in these perilous times cannot be over emphasised.
“We are also unfortunately witnessing messages of hate that is causing division among the people. The need for religious understanding and spiritual guidance has become very crucial now more than ever.”
He said it had become expedient “to take the issue of improving understanding among Christians and Muslims as paramount. This understanding will serve as veritable tool for justice and positive peace.
“I am optimistic that this centre will produce more peace ambassadors over the course of time. It means that in no distant time we will witness a doubling of efforts aimed at spreading the message of good neighbourliness based on our common humanity as against the purveyors of religious extremism.”
He said the state government would not relent in efforts to sustain and build peace efforts by collaborating and supporting institutions that share in this vision.
Also at the forum, the Emir of Kazaure, Alhaji Najib Adamu said there could never be development in a society where there was no peace.
Adamu, a member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the centre, said God in His wisdom decided to create Muslims and Christians, all from different ethnic groups to live together, urging Nigerians to understand their differences and live in peace.
He said: “As a nation we cannot develop if we see things from the point of religion and ethnicity. Let us understand our differences, tolerate each other and work together for the development of our communities.
“There is no way a society can develop without peace. Peace is a key ingredient for development. We all want peace and we must work towards it. There are more things that unite us than the things that divide us. Let us emphasis on the things that unite us so that, together can make progress.”
In his address, Founder of centre, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon said lack of quality religious education “is one of the contributory factors to problems in Kaduna state. Lack of quality religious education is one of the root causes of the problems in Kaduna state and in our country.
“I encourage government to see how increasing investment in religious education can be one pillar of our response to violence and to conflict. The key purpose of education is to open the mind to new thinking, to understanding the thinking of others.
“When we think we know all, we need to know about the religion of the other person. How can we ensure that our youths are continuously learning about the beliefs of those who are different from them through good religious education?
“This is something that can be championed by government and supported by religious leaders and through institutions like the Kaduna Centre for the Study of Muslims- Christian Relations” Fearon said.