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Onaiyekan Warns Agains Sale Of National Assets

-As Sultan Says Politicians Have Hijacked Religious Leaders

Primate of the Catholic church in Nigeria, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Tuesday, said that National Assets should not be sold for the purpose of feeding hungry people.

Many Nigerians have been divided following suggestions by the Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun and the Central Bank Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele that the National Assets should be sold to fund the 2016 budget deficit.

According to Onaiyekan, there are some national assets which the government should not have business on how they are run, but warned that national assets should not be sold just to address a short term plan.

This is just as the leader of the Muslim community in Nigeria and the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, has said that politicians in the country have hijacked religious leaders.

The duo spoke at a programme organised by International Dialogue Centre KAICIID which focus on Intra-religious Understanding in Nigeria held in Abuja.

Onaiyekan who said he cannot passed judgment on the present debate on the sale of national assets, advised the political players to study the options very carefully.

“There must be a good reason to sale national assets. But my answer is neither yes or no. The reason for selling national assets should not be done so as to give food to hungry people,” the clergy said.

“The demand is that things should be studied very properly. There are many national assets that are not really the business of the government but I cannot pass judgment on what happen to the natural gas because I am not an expert.”

“Any asset which really the government shouldn’t have been involved in its running the first place, the government should remove its hand from it and allow it to be run properly,” Onaiyekan added.

On the religious harmony in Nigeria, Onaiyekan said there have been many efforts and initiatives for religious harmony adding that things would have been worse if the leaders of various religions had not come together.

“Our relationship depends so much on the people. In the market, in our places of work and in the neighbourhood, it is our duty as a people and leaders to promote good relationship between Christians and Muslims,” Onaiyekan said adding that the culture of dialogue must become acceptable.

“We’ve been hearing of Boko Haram and Niger-Delta militant for some years now and I am saying that guns cannot solve the problem. We must sit and talk. Killing in the name of God is Satanic,” Onaiyekan added.

Meanwhile, the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III said politicians have hijacked religious leaders in the country.

Abubakar, during his opening speech at the programme, said politicians hijacked religious leaders for their self at the detriment of peace and tolerance.

“We have seen crisis that some churches were given billions. We have seen scenarios where Islamic clergy were invited for a programme and given transport money by politicians. We must use our religious book to settle our differences. Good almighty cannot be wrong in choosing a leader at any time. We have just stated the process of fostering unity among different religions,” the Sultan said.

Abubakar who said Nigeria is going through difficult times economically and otherwise said both Christians and Muslims need to come together to fulfil God plans for the country.

“I am happy seen both Christians and Muslims here today. I am also happy that I am here. As muslims, when we preach to our followers, we must tell them the truth. And as Christians, when we preach to our followers, we must do what we preach. If it is negative, it will affect us. It is important we hold our religions in a sincere manner. We must stand up and fight what divide us.”

“We must ensure that we returned the Nigeria Inter-religious Council (NIREC) which was formed by Methodist Prelate emeritus, Very Rev Sunday Nbang and Sultan Maccido,” Abubakar said.

Speaking on the allege killings by herdsmen, Abubakar said any Fulani man found with guns should be treated as a terrorist.

“The Fulani we see in the villages hold no guns they hold stick. Any Fulani man you see with gun, treat him as a terrorists. Those who take revenge, whether they do it proportionately, it is wrong to take a life. The people killed can be Igbo, Hausa, Fulani, Yoruba or anyone. Most of the herdsmen holding guns might not be Nigerians. If they are Nigerians, they are criminals and we must treat them as such,” Sultan said.

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) President, Rev Ayo Olasugbo, represented by Rev Oluwoye Oyesoji, who said two can only work together if they agree, added that the agreement between Christians and Muslims to come together to foster unity was commendable.

He said the relationship between the two major religions must be strengthened adding that there was no point for Nigerians to fight.

“Whatever the organisers want CAN to do for peace, we will do it without any reservation. Since the people sitting here are not holding guns, we must go back and re-orientate our people not to carry arms.”

The Director General of KAICIID, Fahad Abualnasr, in a visual message presented through a power point said the organization want to address the problem facing the world which is global extremism and violence.

International Dialogue Centre KAICIID Senior Adviser, Mohammed Abu-Nimer, said they have been preparing for a very long time to bridge the gap between policy makers and the different component of the society.

“In many part of the world, people are not immune to religious violence. This is what we intent to address,” he said.

The Director General (DG), Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Professor Oshita O. Oshita said it took them one year to organise the programme in partnership with International Dialogue Centre.

He said they are looking for a framework of sustainability which has always been the problem on inter-religious peace building.

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