Two of Nigeria’s notable religious leaders, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Onaiyekan, and the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammed Sa’ad Abubakar III, have both been nominated for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize, representing Christianity and Islam respectively.
According to the reported issued on Thursday, the International Peace Research Institute noted that Onaiyekan and the Sultan may have made the list alongside the former US President Bill Clinton, Prof. Gene Sharp of the United States, a theorist on non-violent struggle, and the Echo of Moscow radio station, for their efforts at campaigning against the misuse of religion.
Paradoxically, the unfortunate events of the past few years have consistently signalled an erosion of peace in Nigeria, with a few aggrieved citizens predicting a likely disintegration of its corporate nationhood.
There have also been widespread threats to the possibility of continued tolerance between adherents of the two main religions.
Muslim and Christian leaders have had to query the purported religious intentions of the Boko Haram, which has brought Nigeria under siege through the bombing of Christian places of worship, shooting, killing and wanton destruction of property.
President Goodluck Jonathan once raised the alarm that members of the sect had found their way into his cabinet.
The Head of the IPRI, Kristian Berg Harpviken, had described the Peace award as “The most talked-about of the Nobel Prize awards, which appears to be a wide open race this year with no clear frontrunner.”
The list includes Gene Sharp, an American political theorist and expert on non-violent revolution; Russian rights group, Memorial, and its founder Svetlana Gannushkina; and independent Russian media outlet Echo of Moscow; Myanmar President Thein Sein; and the radio’s Chief Editor, Aleksei Venediktov. Afghan human rights activist, ex-minister and burka opponent Sima Samar is also seen as a possible winner.
The Peace Prize winner will be announced next Friday.
While it is usually difficult to predict who will be recognised for pioneering research in the scientific fields – Medicine, Physics, Chemistry and Economics – the public can play the guessing game when it comes to the Peace and Literature prizes.