Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar on Tuesday in Abuja said there was a need to tackle conflicts in the country boost the development of human and natural resources.
Atiku who said this at the 10th anniversary/public lecture of The Sun Publishing Ltd, publishers of The Sun newspapers, said the continent was already weighed down by developmental challenges.
"The effects of crises are enormous. Different parts of Africa and indeed Nigeria are being torn apart by ethnic, religious and communal conflicts.
"The cost of these to Africa, in terms of human life and property, as well as productivity in trade, is clearly enormous.
"This is a continent that has continued to be weighed down by other developmental challenges like poverty, disease, drought and low productivity, due to lack of infrastructure and near-insignificant contribution towards trade.
"There is an urgent need for us as a people and a continent to quickly and decisively tackle these conflicts, weather religious or otherwise," he said.
Atiku said this would not only save lives and properties, but also aid the nation's focus on developing human and natural resources to provide the people a better life.
He added that Nigerians should be encouraged to acknowledge their differences and to see it as the source of their strength.
"We must do what is just and fair so that we can live in one country in peace and harmony," the former vice-president said.
While reacting to comments/questions from the audience, Atiku said Nigeria's strength was in its being a unique country.
"Nigeria is the only country in the world with nearly an even number of Christians and Muslims living together in peace," he said.
Former President of Ghana, Mr John Kufuor, in his lecture on the occasion, urged Nigerians to be wary of religion-related issues, saying "man should live for religion and not religion for man".
He said some of the prejudices that had continued to drag the society back until the present times could be traced to the religious factor.
Kufuor said there was no religious doctrine that is rightful and true meaning which would require that the people engage in civil strife to endanger the society's security.
He, however, cautioned the media to be on its guard so as not to become agents of destabilisation in the society in its manner of reportage.
"Considering the huge influence the media wields in human affairs around the world today, we should not lose sight of the fact that some media outlets wield their influence not too positively for the social good.
"It should be part of your professional ethics to exercise a huge sense of social responsibility in the practice of your profession, so as not to become agents of destabilisation in the society.
"The impact and power of the media in the shaping the minds of the people make it imperative that continuously emphasise what will bring peace, harmony and development instead of what will bring fear, anger and civil strife," he said.