Seriki Adinoyi in Jos
Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State has disclosed that unless Nigerians learn to forgive one another and avoid revenge and reprisals, the nation will continue to witness needless bloodshed and destruction of properties.
The governor was speaking at an inter-denominational church service to commemorate the Third Plateau Day of Forgiveness and Reconciliation at the St. Louis Catholic Church, Jos.
He said, “Although acts of criminality must be swiftly investigated and punished by government and its relevant organs, the long term ambition of every Nigerian who desires peace is to toe the path of reconciliation and forgiveness.
“As a Government, we are very conscious of the fact that the process of restoring peace and confidence among the people cannot succeed without forgiveness and reconciliation. On this day therefore, we do not try to trivialize or gloss over the trauma, pain and agony that many people have undergone on account of the various crises that took lives and properties. Others are still bearing physical scars of their experiences. What this day rather emphasises is how to make the best of the past ugly experiences and chart the way forward. If truly we want to move forward, then there is every need to encourage healing that makes us do things differently.”
Lalong said the Plateau Peace Agency has held over 87 multi-level dialogue sessions with conflict parties across the 17 Local Government Areas of the state in order to promote the culture of peace through forgiveness and reconciliation, adding that the effort has led to the signing of several peace agreements and commitments to the pursuit of peace agreement with various fighting communities in the last five years.
He frowned at the exploitation of the social media by crises merchants who generate and circulate unfounded posts suggesting that there is no peace in the state and that this government has not achieved anything.
In his homily, Catholic Archbishop Mathew Ishaya Audu said the failure of individuals and communities to forgive one another increases the burden of strife, bitterness, anger and violence which provides the ready flame for crises.
He said Christ has demonstrated forgiveness by not only laying down his life for humanity, but admonishing his followers to do same and live in peace.
Executive Secretary of Christian Pilgrims Commission, Rev. Yakubu Pam observed that Day for Forgiveness and Reconciliation is a great initiative by the Governor that celebrates the good of humanity rather than the embers of hatred, bigotry and mediocrity.
Plateau State Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria Rev. Fr. Polycarb Lubo; Deputy Chief Imam of Jos Central Mosque, Sheikh Ismail Adam, and the representative of the Gbong Gwom Jos, all called on the citizens of the state and Nigerians to learn to embrace one another in spite of differences in religion, ethnicity or status.
Prayers were offered for the perpetuation of peace and reconciliation in the state and Nigeria.