Worried by the growing spate of insecurity across the country, a none governmental organizations ActionAid Nigeria has called on leaders and other critical stakeholders in the country to maintain religious tolerance as way of preventing violent extremism..
The Resilience Programme Coordinator of Actionaid Nigeria Anicetus Atakpu made the call on Tuesday at a one-day religious dialogue meeting organized by Actionaide Nigeria in collaboration with Participation Initiative For Behavioural Change in Development, (PIBCID), with funding from Global Community Engagement and Resilience Funds, (GCERF)
Atakpu who traced some of the problems of insecurities in the country to lack of religious tolerance said the aim of the Programme is for community resilience strengthened against violent extremism in Kogi and Nasarawa state.
He described religious leaders as a strong catalyst towards the Prevention of violent extremism in the country, stressing that, there is need for them to use their strong influences on their followers in strengthening peace building and preventing violence in the country.
He commended the people of Kogi State for tolerating each other irrespective of their religious belief, adding that, over the years, Kogi State have not recorded any major religious crisis.
The Resilience Programme Coordinator of Actionaid Nigeria however urged religious leaders not to relent in propagating the message of peaceful co-existence in the state.
He said the program was to further prevent any action that is inimical to the peace of the state stressing that, Actionaid Nigeria through it’s SARVE II Project in the last two years has engage and integrate over 20,000 youths across the State.
According to him, within the year in review, ActionAid Nigeria has has been able to achieve community response team to identify any point of conflict to avoid it from escalating.
The programme he averred further is also centred at changing the mentality of youths towards violence extremism adding that when conflict occurs, Women and Children suffers the major casualties.
Earlier in her welcome address, the Executive Director of Participation Initiative for Behavioural Change in Development, (PIBCID), Halima Oiza Sadiq, explained that the Religious Dialogue Meeting under the SARVE II Project aims to decrease vulnerability and risk of young men and women using Religious Leaders while promoting community Systems and structures that address violent extremism and strengthen peace building mechanism.
According to the Executive Director, the Dialogue aims at intensifying actions towards improving enabling environment for preventing violent extremism as well as supporting communities against injustices and inequalities through building tolerance to mitigate against violent extremism.
Speaking at the event, the Kogi East zonal coordinator of Jamaatu Nasril Islam, (JNI) Alhaji Mohmmed Idris admitted that the European over the years have misled the government stressing that Christian and Islamic religion should be made compulsory for admission to tertiary institutions.
He said if this is done, the present violent extremism witnessed today in the country will be minimal.
Delivering a lecture on religious tolerance, Christian and Islam; experience sharing, the Lokoja Koton Karfe coordinator of Jamaatu Nasril Islam, (JNI) Alhaji Mohammed Wadada told the gathering that both religion must coexist together to put an end to youth restiveness and violence extremism in Nigeria.
The Islamic cleric however admonished both Christians and Muslims to always practice what they preach and not to deviate from the teachings of almighty God.
According him, no nation can develop in the absence of peace, security of lives and properties, and religious tolerance.
In a related development, the Kogi State Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN), Assistant Secretary Rev Frank Paul Oluwatimileyin who delivered a lecture on ‘Culture of Peace through Community Engagement and Dialogue as Religious Leaders’, lamented on the high rate of killing in the country.
While calling for the implementation of Faith in peace building, Rev Oluwatimileyin maintained that the two major Religions in Nigeria shares major ideologies which are symbols of peace, love, humanitarian service and respect each others religion.