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Harnessing Nigeria’s diversity for sustainable peace, devt

I would like to welcome you all to this National Inter-Religious Conference, particularly those from outside the state to the warm embrace of the good…

I would like to welcome you all to this National Inter-Religious Conference, particularly those from outside the state to the warm embrace of the good people of Kano State, the Centre of Commerce. This conference is the fourth in a series we are organizing at the state level, the Annual Inter-Religious and Community Conference, and the first we give a national outlook by inviting religious leaders from other parts of the country, with the sole aim of strengthening the interfaith dialogue and building of mutual trust between the two dominant religions in our diverse nation.

I am delighted that this cream of religious leaders who have served our country with distinction have assembled here for this conference, particularly the Chairman, Cardinal John Olurunfemi Onaiyekan, Archbishop Emeritus, Abuja and the Co-chairman, Sheikh Bala Abdullahi Lau, chairman Jama’atu Izalatul Bidi’aWa’ikamatus Sunnah (JIBWIBS) for their commitment to inter-religious co-operation which is stronger than ever before. I also would like to recognize some of our distinguished panelists and discussants at this conference; Most Rev. Mathew Hassan Kukah, Prof. Salisu Shehu and other religious leaders are also appreciated who travelled to be here for this conference, which I consider as very special on the culture of peace and the power of dialogue for sustainable national development.

I appreciate His Highness, the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero’s contributions towards the promotion of ideals for peaceful coexistence and unflinching support for religious harmony in Kano.

Let me also commend all members of the committee for accepting to serve and also for coming up with a befitting Programme for the conference that is expected to proffer workable solutions that will promote religious understanding, tolerance, peace and harmony in the country.   No doubt, peace and development are two major themes of today’s world. Sometimes, religions are utilized unfortunately as a tool to stir up violence and hatred resulting in clashes among different cultures and sects, which is just contrary to the holy faiths we deeply hold and also negates our development as a nation. That is why all religions must strengthen dialogue, seek common ground and harmony, and confront violence through multi-faith cooperation to push forward in building a harmonious world. Multi-faith, bringing mutual respect and understanding, could prevent trouble before it happens. If we believe that our future peace and security lie together rather than apart, then we must come together to understand the power of faith, to force the greatest possible coalition for the common good. Not one which seeks to impose uniformity of canon or culture, but one that is deepened by diversity and united by shared values.

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As followers of the major faiths, we can be in no doubt about the power of faith to shape our world. And while it is not for politicians to lead that bringing together of faith – that can ultimately only be done by the leaders of faith themselves. The theme of this conference: “Harnessing Nigeria’s Diversity for Sustainable Peace and Development” is not only apt but could not have come at a more promising time than now when our country has come under the threat of security or sectarian violence often waged in the name of religion by selfish elements. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, peace for humankind remains the core tenet of all known world religions. Therefore, any teaching today that transmits the lie that wanton disregard and destruction of God-given precious human lives and property in the name of this same one and only God and for whatever reason, is a denial of what such teaching claims to represent. We are adherents of the revealed books which teach us to leave in peace and harmony. Most of us accept that what you do not wish done to yourself, you do not do to others. It is the same sacred ideal at the ethical heart of all true religions: our duty to others, our concern for the outsider. The sense that each of us is our brother and sister’s keeper. When Christians say to do to others what you would have them do to you, to quote the “Golden Rule,” when Muslims say no one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself, to quote from the Hadith or saying of the Holy Prophet, then we have no excuse not to keep peace with one another.

 This is why all of us including those who in one way or the other are in leadership positions of the congregations of our religions should rally not only against the falsification and distortion of the true and sacred teachings of our great religious faiths, but also the very minute population behind the unfortunate distortion and misrepresentation. Although conferences of this nature are mostly spearheaded by voluntary and independent associations, the government of Kano State put it in place in appreciation of the critical value of inter-religious dialogue as a veritable platform to promote greater interaction and understanding among the leaders and their followers as well as lay foundations for sustainable peace and religious harmony in Nigeria.

 In this connection, let me say here that the interfaith dialogues we have been having in Kano has greatly assisted in fostering unity among the Muslim and Christian faiths. This can be seen from the various religious crises that erupted in other parts of the country, with no backlash or reprisal attacks. We thank God for this.   Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, with the 2023 general elections just a few months away, the Electoral Umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, has banned political campaigns in mosques and churches. It is therefore very important to note that while it is in order to drum support for the candidate of our choice, we should desist from whipping up religious sentiments in the course of our political campaigning. I would like to call on the participants at this conference to brainstorm and come out with workable resolutions towards ensuring religious harmony, peace and development in this country. Let me also assure you that whatever resolutions that may come out of this interaction, will be studied and taken seriously by the government. Thank you and God bless you.


Ganduje, the Kano State governor, made the remarks at the opening of the National Inter-Religious conference on Thursday.