Vanguard (Lagos)

16 December 2012

Nigeria: Oritsejafor Asks Islamic Youths to Shun Fundamentalist Ideologies

Warri — WORRIED by the growing trend of terrorism in northern Nigeria, a coalition of Christian and Muslim youths paid a courtesy visit to the National President of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, and co-chairman of Nigerian Inter-Religious Council, NIREC, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor in his church office in Warri, seeking new approaches to tackle the menace.

The 20-man delegation was led by the national president of Youth Wing of Christian Association of Nigeria, YOWICAN, Dr. Simon Dolly and his Islamic counterpart, the national president of National Council of Muslim Youth Organisations, NACOMYO, Alh-aji Kamal'ddin Akintun-de and was joined by five leaders from the Muslim community in Warri.

Welcoming the joint leadership of Youth Wing of CAN, YOWICAN, and the National Council of Muslim Youth Organisations, NACO-MYO, Pastor Oritsejafor charged the Muslim youths whose members are often used by the perpetrators of the violence, to take the gospel of peace to the grassroots on the need for youths to refuse to be used.

According to the CAN president, who express-ed delight for the visit by the joint leadership of YOWICAN and NACO-MYO, the time has come peace loving youths of this country to rise in defence of the peace of the nation because no country can develop in an atmosphere devoid of peace and tranquility.

It is amazing, he add-ed, that the two major religions in the country, Christianity and Islam, were unanimous about the preaching of peace, tolerance and good nei-ghbourliness, yet there is so much violence against the Christian faith, arguing that disgruntled politicians and fundamentalist religious clerics who cannot tolerate other peoples views are behind the entire crisis.

Oritsejafor further maintained that if other Islamic youths refuse to be used by the class of intolerant politicians and fundamental religious clerics the violence in the North will abate, adding that he is looking forward to the day when Christians and Muslims can sincerely, genuinely and without pretence sit together and rob minds to move the nation, Nigeria forward.

"We must first appreciate that we are first and foremost, Nigerian before any other consideration," he said noting that recent demographic survey shows that over 70 per cent of the nation's population falls under the age of 40 which means that the future of this country is secure because a focused youth can galvanise this advantage for the betterment of the country.

"The interesting thing about violence is that the old people who pertetrate the act of violence, sit down in the comfort of their homes and send the young ones to the battle field where they loose their lives for no just course because no religion will ask you to kill your fellow human beings," he said, adding that fellows who bankroll the violence will never use their children.

The CAN president further argued that the earlier the youths of the North realized that the politicians using them, often abandon them sooner than later, then "are we on the path to the resolution of the crises. True religious ideology will not kill human beings who were created by God," he said, lamenting that most churches in the North are full of orphans and widows as a result of the mindless killings.

"Young people must reject those fundamentalist preachings that motivate them to violence. Nobody will come to Nigeria to develop it for us. Only Nigerians committed to the corporate existence of the nation can develop the nation and gavalnise to the path of righteousness and the much talked about growth. Help us. Get this to the grassroots because God has created us one. Nigeria cannot be a Christian nation. Nigeria cannot be a Muslim country either. It is not possible!" he said.

According to him, "a nation's greatness will never manifest until somebody rises up to take cetain risks for the survival of the nation." He therefore promised to take their request to be inauguarated as Youth wing of NIREC to his friend and co-chairman of the organization, the Sultan of Sokoto at the nearest possible time.

Earlier, the national president of NACOMYO, Alhaji Kamal'ddin Akintunde has expressd disgust at the continued violence, saying they had come as they had ealier done to the Sultan of Sokoto, to seeking ways to ensure national cohesion and stability of the Nigerian state.

According to him, "the importance of religion in stabilizing the polity of the country cannot be overemphasized as religious institutions and faith-based organizations have made impacts in building an egalitarian society." He noted that no development can ever take place in an atmosphere devoid of peace and tolerance, which is why YOWICAN and NACOMYO "have decided to work together to build on your initiative as a complimentary endeavour."

He therefore appealed to NIREC to give its blessing to initiative by inaugurating NIREC Youthin tanden with a cardinal resolution of a NIREC-organised youth workshop on conflict resolution held in Minna, Niger State in 2009.

The Islamic leader also used the occasion to congratulate the CAN president for his recent celebration of 40 years in ministry and the recent cardinalship of Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, noting that the two events were good omen to the country.

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