The President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Samson Ayokunle, and other stakeholders have cautioned religious teachers and preachers against provocative teachings to ensure peace in the country.
The warning came at the 2018 First Quarter General Meeting of Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) Meeting, on Thursday in Abuja.
Mr. Ayokunle explained that provocative preaching could set the nation on fire along religious lines.
He also called for the establishment of empowerment programmes that would engage the unemployed youths by churches and mosques.
“Our major problem today in Nigeria is insecurity which ranges from religions to ethnic and socio-economic.
“Some of these problems are caused by bad leadership and failure of (we) the religious leaders to rightly guide our followers.
“From our end as religious leaders, I will suggest inter-religious and intra-religious education and empowerment programmes for our youths to douse the tension in our society.
“We should also clamour for the restoration of religious devotion or prayers in our primary and secondary schools,” he said.
According to him, many of the problems of insecurity can be traced to economic deprivation, adding that the government should urgently address the issue of high foreign exchange rate.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, in a keynote address, said the meeting was timely as it would proffer solutions to the current insecurity in the country.
Mr. Mustapha urged the religious leaders and traditional rulers to speak up against actions that could threaten our peace and national unity.
“Religion is an instrument for building national harmony and peaceful co-existence, and this government is committed to fairness to all, irrespective of their ethnic background or religious beliefs.
“As you are all aware some of the challenges confronting the government include extremism and religious intolerance. In this instance the Boko Haram insurgency and militancy readily comes to mind.
“While recognising that the security agencies have been living up to their expectations; it is also important to emphasise that the business of security is the business of all Nigerians.
“The federal government will ensure that dialogue and peaceful approach are deployed to support the military effort,” the SGF said.
He also urged the leaders to convey message of non-violence and political activities as the country approaches another election year.
Also speaking, the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, said that security remain the bedrock of the nation’s development.
The I-G, represented by Shuaibu Lawal, Deputy Inspector-General of Police, appealed to the religious leaders and traditional rulers to ensure they promote peace in the country.
“The importance of this meeting cannot be over-emphasised as it gives our spiritual and royal fathers the opportunity to brainstorm on ways to enhance security in the country.
“I want to urge you to concentrate on messages and sermon that will build the bridge of love, tolerance, forgiveness and peaceful co-existence,’’ Mr. Idris said.
The FCT Minister, Muhammad Bello, pledged to support the council in achieving its mandate.
Mr. Bello, represented by Chinyeaka Ohaa, Permanent Secretary (FCT), noted that the council had recorded great strides in its quest for peace in the country since its inception.
NAN reports that hundreds of religious leaders across the country attended the programme including top ranking government officials. (NAN)
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