Osinbajo Hosts World Methodist President, Pleads for Religious Harmony

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•Our Constitution guarantees religious freedom not just in words but in practice

Bennett Oghifo

Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday hosted a delegation from the World Methodist Council led by its President, Rev. Dr. Jong Chun Park, at the Presidential Villa, with a charge on faith leaders to make contributions and sacrifices towards ensuring harmony amongst people of different religious and ethnic backgrounds in Nigeria and elsewhere.

Osinbajo told the delegation that was accompanied by the Prelate of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, His Eminence, Most Rev. Samuel Uche, that in most societies that have been seamless, a lot of it has had to do with what men and women of God did. 

The vice president said: “I think that the role of the church in bringing that harmony is crucial. The political leadership is one, but the solutions to the world’s deepest problem lies in Gospel and I believe that we as the body of Christ hold the key to several of the problems.

“So, the question is how we deploy the resources that God gave to us to unite people. Obviously, it requires tremendous sacrifice and it is really about the sacrifices that we are prepared to make.”

While noting that the Methodist Church in Nigeria had played an important role in maintaining harmony in the country, the vice president thanked the visiting global religious leader for underscoring the important points he raised.

Speaking further about the need for collaboration between government and other stakeholders in promoting harmonious coexistence in Nigeria, the Vice President said: “I believe that religious harmony is possible and it is our duty to promote same.

We should try and bring our communities together. We have a large Muslim and large Christian populations, and we can’t do anything without collaboration. Religious leaders can’t wish that away.

“Our Constitution guarantees religious freedom not just in words but in practice in Nigeria, again it is a duty that we accept this reality.

“Despite all the various challenges that we face as a country, we are all resolved that this country is one that is fair for all, that there is justice, equity and that we give everyone a chance to realise the objectives that they set for themselves.

He then commended the contributions of the Methodist Church in the development of society, noting that “the Church has not just contributed to the salvation of souls, but also to human capacity development, education, and health care.”

Earlier in his remark, Rev. Dr. Park commended the role played by the Vice President in promoting religious harmony through his numerous engagements and activities across the country.

He also prayed for Nigeria and its leadership, expressing optimism that the leadership and wisdom exhibited by the Vice President would enable the country achieve its objectives.

The World Methodist Council leader added that by working together, both President Muhammadu Buhari and the Vice President are demonstrating commendable and harmonious governance.

Park said: “I feel touched by your harmonised way of governance. May God bless President Buhari and you, the vice president.

God will bless Nigeria and all Christians and our Islamic brothers and sisters to live together in harmony, peace and love.”

In his own remarks, the Methodist Prelate, who introduced Rev Park both as a priest and University Professor, expressed satisfaction with the work of the Vice President saying, “we are proud of you” adding that this is also “because you attended our school”. He was referring to Igbobi College, which was founded by both the Methodist and Anglican Churches.