President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, said his administration would continue to embrace inter-religious dialogue with a view to assuaging the mounting level of insecurity in the country, saying “it must be pointed out that some of the religious tensions in the country are politically motivated.”
Jonathan who made the declaration in a speech he presented at the official launch of a Faith Foundation-led Work in Nigeria, championed by the erstwhile British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair and the Archbishop of Cantebury, Bishop Justin Welby, in Abuja, yesterday, blamed the current security situation on the handiwork of “false prophets.”
He said: “It is my pleasure to warmly welcome you all, honoured friends of Nigeria, former Prime Minister Tony Blair and Archbishop of Cantebury designate, Justin Welby, to Abuja for the launch of the Faith Foundation-led work to encourage religious harmony between Christian and Muslim communities in Nigeria.
“I commend you for this singular and timely joint initiative. The idea is not only creative, it is also consistent with our efforts to promote inter-religious dialogue and harmony.
“Our country,Nigeria, is blessed by the Almighty God with two of the world’s great religions which honour Him in their different ways. For generations, the two religions have co-existed and their proponents have lived side by side, in peace and harmony, knowing that both religions espouse the universal values of peace, freedom, human rights, dignity, and the oneness of humanity.
“Our young people can easily be seduced by false prophets who take them down the path of violence and hatred. It is very important that religion is neither misused nor abused to justify violence.
“Inter-religious dialogue is already playing an important role in our society. The Federal Government continues to promote religious harmony by constantly engaging the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council, jointly chaired by the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, and the Sultan of Sokoto. While progress on this front is satisfactory, it must be pointed that some of the religious tensions in the country are politically motivated.
“We must now use both platforms to call on all believers to reject religiously anchored violence, advance tolerance, and promote mutual understanding. We must emphasize the imperatives of dialogue as part of our efforts to create peace and advance development.”
Jonathan, who was represented by Minister for Housing and Urban Development, Ama Pepple. Meantime, in his speech, Mr Blair tasked Nigerian politicians on integrity, saying there was need for them to really imbibe the true qualities of leaders and not just politicians. He stressed that genuine leadership was what Nigerians needed to surmount the myriad of challenges bedevilling it.
He said: “My foundation and I are deeply committed to addressing the challenges of religious reconciliation in Nigeria.” According to him, understanding and respecting different faiths is central to securing sustainable peace, particularly where those who seek to misuse religion for violent ends aim to destroy it.”