Christian, Muslim Leaders Task Nigerians On Religious Tolerance, National Unity

ABUJA – Nigerians, being they Christians and Muslims, have been advised to cultivate the spirit of tolerance and forgiveness in the interest of national unity and economic development.

The advice was given by Christian and Muslim stakeholders at a conference in Abuja with the theme; “Trauma Care, Social Cohesion and the Role of Leaders as Ingredients for Nation Building,” to mark the 10th anniversary of Rev. Fr. Stephen Ojapah, a catholic priest who was a victim of a kidnapping in 2022.

Ojapah while speaking of his experience, said there was need to attend to the mental health of Nigerians, and ensure healing to enable contribute meaningfully to nation-building.

“As a way of contributing to nation building, I have decided to use this opportunity of my 10th priestly anniversary to draw the attention of the federal government to two things that can give an average Nigerian a sense of belonging.

“One is attention to mental health, or post-traumatic stress disorder by many who are in dare need of it. Some of our religious leaders and politicians are actively engaged in the nation’s destruction with their utterances; we have a nation to build,” he said.

Bishop Hassan Kukah of the Sokoto Catholic Diocese said all Nigerians are living under some level of fear, especially when traveling, and there is need for national cohesion as ethnicity, social class, and region among others had become instruments of war among the people.

According to him, trust is becoming a scarce commodity as people no longer know who to trust largely because of what society has become as a result of banditry.

“We must remain vigilant, unless our communities are secure, unless we have a sense of respect for one another and we take the sense of community beyond the boundaries of religion and begin to see ourselves and create some level of civility around ourselves, it will be difficult. This is where I think religious leaders have a role to play,” he said.

Father of the day, Mr. Sunday Oyibe, said no amount of words can explain what a traumatized person goes through, adding that only the victim can tell ‘where the shoe pinches.”

He said a traumatised individual without psycho-social help has the potential to withdraw or revenge, but if Nigeria must be good and move forward, there is need for all Nigerians to have a forgiving attitude in relationships with one another.

In his remarks, the country representative for Global Peace Foundation, Rev. John Hayab, said all humans irrespective of religion, race, tribe or culture are members of one family under God.

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