* Identifies Religious Tolerance As Solution For Insurgency, Others
Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja
Senate President, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has called on Christians across the country to use the Easter celebration to pray for sustainable peace and economic growth in the country.
This is even as Saraki has identified tolerance, harmony and better understanding of religious tenets by adherents as long term solution to the problem of insurgency and other conflicts facing the nation in particular, and the world in general.
In his message to mark the Easter festivities being held in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ by Christians across the world, Saraki said that it is imperative for all Nigerians to borrow a leaf from the humility and sacrifice exhibited by Jesus Christ when He yielded His life for the redemption of mankind.
The Senate President, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, commended the Christian community for their fasting and prayers during the Lenten season, and urged them to sustain the tempo for the continued peace and unity of the nation.
He reminded the Christian faithful of the need to remain steadfast and always promote religious harmony between and among various groups as a panacea for developing the nation.
He also commended the Federal Government for the significant increase in the level of security across the country in recent times, and called on the security agencies to redouble their efforts to once again ensure a smooth and hitch-free Easter celebration.
“Even though we still have a long way to go in restoring full security across the country and ensuring the safe return of our Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to their local communities, let us be rest assured that the end to insurgency and mindless attacks unleashed on innocent Nigerians in some sections of the country by the Boko Haram insurgents is in sight.
“This is the more reason I urge all Nigerians irrespective of region, religion and ethnic affiliation to increase their support for the efforts of the Federal Government aimed at nipping the menace of Boko Haram and all other noticeable shades of criminality in the bud for good and in the shortest possible time,” he stated.
He, however, assured that the National Assembly would continue to make legislations, including: the review and amendment of existing ones, to boost security, create conducive business and investment environment, support the fight against corruption and block leakages in the system to bring about desired economic buoyancy in the country.
Meanwhile, Saraki has identified tolerance, harmony and better understanding of religious tenets by adherents as long term solution to the problem of insurgency and other conflicts facing the nation in particular, and the world in general.
Speaking in Abuja on Thursday while receiving the leadership of Nasrul-Lahi-l-Fatih Society of Nigeria (NASFAT), who paid him a courtesy visit, Saraki noted that though President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is winning the war against insurgency in the North East.
Saraki, however, observed that the long term solution to the issue is to preach, entrench and sustain religious tolerance and harmony not only among Muslims but among adherents of all religions.
“Yes, the government of President Buhari is winning the war against insurgency, but that will be a short time solution. The long term and sustainable solution is to make people understand the teachings of their religion and have respect for the beliefs which others hold dear.
“That responsibility is not for the government. It is for religious leaders and organizations such as NASFAT. We need to educate the people on the importance of peace, tolerance and harmony as enjoined by the teachings of all religions.
“It is my belief that the root of religious conflicts not only in Nigeria but across the world is the lack of proper understanding of the teachings of religions, as no religion encourages violence and other forms of aggression against other people.
“This is where you and other religious groups like yours come in. You need to preach to people on the importance of peace, the need to accommodate other people’s views, obey the laws of the land and treat one another as brothers and sisters,” he said.
He commended the organization for making peace and harmony the corner piece in its preaching and other activities, noting that, “our generation must preach peace like our forefathers did, and ensure that the next generation do not witness what we are witnessing today”.
Saraki congratulated NASFAT on its numerous achievements in its 21 years of existence and pledged the support of the National Assembly for the organization to realize its objectives.
Earlier in his remarks, NASFAT President, Kamil Yomi Bolarinwa, explained that the visit was mainly to extend an invitation to the Senate President and other senators for the organisation’s 21st anniversary beginning from Friday.
Bolarinwa said NASFAT made religious tolerance a centrepiece of its Islamic propagation based on the teachings of Islam that enjoined its adherents to coexist with all in peace.
“Our religion has taught us to live in peace with ourselves and with our neighbours, and that is what we have been preaching and doing in the last 21 years,” he said.
Islam, he said is all about peace, and recalled that all the wars fought by prophet Muhammad were on self defense.
“We are taught that we are not complete Muslims until we like to others what we like to ourselves,” he added.
He assured the Senate President of NASFAT’s support and encouragement for him to succeed in discharging his responsibilities, particularly in the area of finding a lasting peace for the nation.
Among the achievements of NASFAT, according to its President, were establishment of a university, nursery and primary schools and 25 branches of the association outside the world, apart from the branches spread across the country.