Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto and other religious leaders on Sunday expressed concerns over the polarisation of the nation along primodial lines such as religion and ethnicity.
The religious leaders spoke differently as guests at the Society of African Mission’s (SMA) 166th anniversary thanksgiving in Lagos.
They said that such divisions had continued to serve as the clogs in the wheel of nation’s quest for development and progress.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos reports that the SMA, one of the missionary groups of priests of the Catholic Church worldwide, has been known for their social services that have benefitted the Catholic Church and people from other faiths.
The SMA fathers ,a foremost humanitarian body, apart from establishing pro-human facilities has also been in the vanguard of national cohesion through inter-faith dialogue to foster unity among the people.
The theme of the event meant to sensitise Nigerians toward having credible and free 2023 general elections is : “Conversation on the Role of Faith in Nation Building.”
Bishop Kukah speaking at the event, tasked Nigerians on national cohesion to enable the country has even development.
The cleric said that the identification of one as a Yourba man, an Igbo man or a Kanuri person instead of a Nigerian was one of the unhealthy attitudes of the nation’s life that had kept it below in the comity of nations.
Kukah, who described the nation’s diversity as an asset, charged Nigerians to promote things that could heal existing social disharmony in order not to pass such to the younger generation.
According to him, the promotion of the country’s diversity, if well harnessed, can turn the fortunes of the people into things that will benefit everyone.
“I still don’t understand how our religion has been turned into a weapon of social upheavals in our country without such happening in our neighborhood countries.
“As a people, we should reject the antics of politicians trying to use our faiths to keep us disunited for their selfish ends.
“There is nothing wrong with our religion; but what is wrong is our relationship with people of other faiths.
“Our people should learn to resist those politicians with the evil agenda by peaceful protest in order to change them from the old order for a better Nigerian society,” he said.
Similarly, the Chief Imam of Mende Central Mosque, Maryland Lagos, Alhaji Habeeblan Awofeso, said that Nigerians should learn to live in peace with one another in any part of the country they find themselves.
The cleric who said that he was a product of the Catholic missionary school said that by landmass, there were no parts of the country designated by nature as Yourba land or Igbo land; rather what we have is that some people having dominance residency in an area.
Also, Bishop Anthony Awe of the Orthodox Anglican Church said that the church had remained steadfast in its teachings and appealed to leaders of state to always emulate the church for a better society. (NAN)