The Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigeria Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar and the President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Samson Olasupo Ayokunle, have explained their absence at a meeting with the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, in Abuja Wednesday.
Guterres was to meet the two religious leaders at the United Nations House, Abuja.
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The Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, who attended the meeting with Guterres, said it was supposed to be an opportunity for the UN Secretary-General to speak to the leadership of the major religious groups in Nigeria.
He said Guteress already had a good view of religious institutions in Nigeria, but wanted to hear from him.
He said: “I tried my best to let him know from the position of religious leadership in Nigeria, what position we’ve taken, what effort we’ve made, how far we’ve succeeded and how far we’re not succeeding.
“He raised the common issues that have been agitating the minds of Nigerians, that here is the country with dilemma, contraction and full of talented people, so, he said.”
Reacting in separate interviews with Daily Trust, the sultan and the CAN president said there was a communication gap on the venue of the meeting.
CAN General Secretary, Joseph Bade Daramola, said: “The CAN president was not in the country, but he communicated to us that the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres would be coming to CAN Secretariat and the mosque for a meeting.
“This is why I and some others, including Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, are here waiting. I even called Baba Onaiyekan (John Cardinal Onaiyekan) and also sent him messages over the meeting.
“There must have been a communication gap, we were waiting here and didn’t know we should come to another venue for the meeting,” Daramola said.
When contacted, officials at the NSCIA said the sultan might not be aware of the meeting or there was a communication gap. However, a personal assistant to the sultan, Malam Aliyu Ibrahim, said: “There was a letter informing His Eminence, but we were told that the meeting was postponed.
“I’m not aware that a new date was fixed and communicated to us.”