By Florence Onuegbu
Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has charged religious and traditional leaders to work together for unity, peace, justice in Nigeria.
Sanwo-Olu gave the charge during the third quarter meeting of the Nigeria Inter-Religion Council (NIREC), with the theme: ”Working Together for Justice and Peace”, held at Victoria Island.
He said that promoting unity, peace, justice and tranquility in Nigeria would bring about a peaceful co-existence among the people.
“I believe with the case of NIREC that we have today and that we have seen consistently, this country will not be put to shame.
“I am hoping that the conversations, discussions and decisions at the NIREC meeting will further strengthen that thing that we all swore to; to ensure justice, peace and equity in this country.
“We are at a time this country needs all of us now more than ever before and so, we should not allow hate speech.
“We cannot afford ethnic bigotry. We cannot afford to be divided. We are going into elections; let us see the commitment and nationality in all of us,” Sanwo-Olu said.
He said that as a political leader, the only way not to fail the people was by ensuring good governance.
Speaking on the ongoing Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) strike and the union face-off with the Federal Government, Sanwo-Olu said that though none of the Lagos State-owned three universities were on strike, it was painful that students in other universities had been at home for seven months.
He appealed that ASUU should call off the strike and get the students back to school, as the academic union and the Federal Government should quickly resolve the lingering issue, in order not to compromise the future of the students.
Mr Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), said that the meeting was a call to national duty, to take an active part in renewing troubled communities.
Mustapha, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Dr Maurice Mbaeri, charged people, especially religious leaders to work for justice, peace.
He urged all to ensure fair play, so as to create the needed change for Nigerians to always live in unity and harmony.
“I want to charge everyone of us to work for peace that will endure and outlast us, by creating functional structure for generations unborn.
“This structure must have the capacity to be proactive in responding to emerging issues, while reinforcing a longer and larger change processes. We cannot fold our hands when we see problems emerging,” the SGF said.
The Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Mohammed Abubakara, said that the role of religious leaders was to be just and fair to earn the trust of the people.
Abubakara, who is co-Chairman of NIREC, urged Muslims and Christians to come together to pursue peace and justice as they were inseparable.
He pleaded with ASUU to call off the ongoing strike, urging the Federal Government and academic union to find a common ground to resolve the conflict.
The President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Daniel Okoh, urged citizens to embrace peace, desist from hateful utterances, live in peaceful coexistence with one another.
Okoh, the co-chairman of NIREC, called on Nigerians to be accountable, elect leaders with capacities during the 2023 general elections and abhor tribal sentiments, among others vices.
In his speech, the Executive Secretary of NIREC, Mr Cornelius Omonokhua, said that the meeting was aimed at changing existing narratives to allow justice and peace to reign in Nigeria.
Omonokhua said that there was a need for mental re-engineering, change of values and attitudes, as well as radical emancipation to address the root of various calamities of national concerns.
Also speaking, the Lagos State Commissioner for Home Affairs, Prince Anofiu Elegushi, called on religious leaders to continue to preach peace and unity to bring about development in the country. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma