Minister of Information and Culture, Alh. Lai Mohammed has called on religious leaders to provide an alternative narration to the distortion of religion that has misled some deranged people to hide under its cover to perpetrate evil. He made the call in Abuja at a forum organized by the National Orientation Agency for religious leaders to articulate strategies for sustainable peace in the country.
He said “You, our religious leaders, cannot and must not cede the turf to purveyors of hatred and violence. If we put our nation and its unity and development first, then we will have no place for behaviours that run contrary to the national interest”.
The Minister insisted that religious leaders had a duty to highlight the pristine and unadulterated version of Christianity and Islam by reminding all the adherents of both faith that nowhere did any of them preach hatred and violence.
According to Alh. Lai Mohammed, top on the list of these roles to be performed by the religious leaders is the need to de-radicalize those who have been exposed to extremist and violent view of religion, especially in the North-east.
Alh. Lai Mohammed is confident that the involvement of critical stakeholders in the peace conversation will deepen and consolidate the gains of all peace building efforts by concerned agencies of government. “This conversation today with religious leaders therefore comes at a moment when we desperately need to maximize the input of our religious leaders and religious bodies toward national cohesion” he remarked.
The Minister restated the unflinching resolve and determination of the present administration to end the insurgency in the North-east and called for the support and cooperation of all Nigerians to achieve lasting peace.
He remarked that the military was doing their beat to restore peace to the affected communities but what was missing was the civilian component of the war in the form of support from all Nigerians for the military in their efforts to decimate the remnants of the insurgents. “Our religious leaders have a great role to play in this respect. That is why we will be calling on them in the days ahead to be part of the integrated efforts to rally people of all faith and from all walks of life to support the war effort.
“I therefore urge you, our religious leaders, to use this conversation as a forum to synergize on how to put the search for lasting peace and security on a more sure footing in the nation through people reorientation. I also urge you all to intensify your prayers for divine assistance so that our peace building efforts will speedily yield the desired results”.