Clerics from the two dominant religions in the country, Christianity and Islam on Wednesday, called for religious tolerance among the various religious groups in Nigeria, while also urging Nigerians to pray for the country and her leaders.
This was the resolution reached by participants at the end of a joint session of Christian/Muslim Intellectual Forum (CMIF) organized by the Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency (CESJECT) in Abuja.
In a Communiqué issued at the end of the conference, the participants agreed to hold an inter faith praise concert to celebrate the achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari over some of the hydra headed monsters such as terrorism and corruption which confronted the nation before his ascension to power.
They also agreed to hold a prayer session for the quick recoveries of Mr. President to enable him continue his good works of rebuilding the nation.
The Communiqué was jointly signed by Rev. Steven Onwun Chairman, Communiqué Drafting Committee and Alhaji Garba Shehu Secretary and Patriot Dan Enyi
Member, Communiqué Drafting Committee.
The seminar witnessed participants and guest speakers painstakingly dissecting the concept of religion and its applicability in the context of Nigeria and resolved on a series of actions and measures to douse the unnecessary tensions and conflicts the practice of religion often impose in the country.
The CMIF said patriotism should instead become the new religion, emphasizing that henceforth; state interests and goals should be placed above religious inclinations of individuals.
According to the communiqué, the forum recognized the Constitutional freedom of Nigerians to the right of conscience and to subscribe to any religion of their choice and worship.
However, the participants bemoaned the frequent abuse of this liberty by some clerics and adherents and sued for restraint.
The communiqué reads in part, “The forum also reviewed and described as unhealthy the sustained frosty relationship between followers of different faiths and the need for internal soul-searching by adherents of the various faiths to evolve positive measures that would stimulate cordial and friendly inter-faith interface for peace, unity and harmonious co-existence in Nigeria.
“The young intellectuals of both faiths accepted and elected upon themselves to become vanguards and crusaders of mutual inter-faith relations in their respective communities and places of worship through enlightenment campaigns and conduct opposed to the exacerbation of religious issues/tensions throughout the country.
“The youths of Christianity and Islam in Nigeria agreed to start action to begin a joint annual national religious feast/carnival where worshippers of both faiths would intermingle to collectively beseech God Almighty in prayers, songs and dances for the peace and development of Nigeria.
“The gathering will also offer a platform for interactions, dialogues and discussions of issues/problems afflicting the practice of both religions and proffer solutions. With time, the scope could be expanded to include quarterly joint conferences and seminars to discuss emerging religious issues, affairs or trends.
“The Muslim and Christian youths reached a consensus that henceforth matters of religion shall not reflect in our social interactions, workplace, homes and anywhere Nigerians converge. And that the practice of religion shall be perceived more as something very personal to the believer or worshipper and shall never be reason for strained relationships, unnecessary politicization and incitement to anarchy.
“The forum also condemned in strong terms the penchant of some clerics for hate speeches; inflammatory or inciting sermons and resolved from now onwards not to tolerate preachments. Instead, preachers who undermine the essence of love, peace and unity, which are the cardinal values of all religions shall be deserted.”
The seminar drew participants and discussants from various Faith Based Organizations (FBOs), NGOs and CSOs. It also had six guest speakers invited from various Nigerian Universities who extensively discussed the negative effects of hate speeches and religious intolerance.