In order to rejuvenate the dignity of humanity and avoid national divisions, the Secretary to the Government of Federation (SGF), George Akume, emphasizes the imperative for governmental bodies at every level to collaborate closely with religious leaders. As the fourth quarterly meeting of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) commenced in Abuja, the capital city, he inaugurated the event by announcing these words. Religion, known for its immense sensitivity and volatility, requires religious leaders to play an essential role in fostering an environment of mutual understanding. It is crucial for these leaders to inspire religious preachers in emphasizing aspects that contribute to harmonious coexistence among different faiths.
For over two decades, the nation’s governments have shown unwavering support towards NIREC, so much so that NIREC office is currently located within the Federal Secretariat complex. Akume expressed his sincere gratitude to NIREC, acknowledging their remarkable contributions in upholding the faith of Nigerians and steadfastly fostering religious tranquillity and unity across the country. He further mentioned that Nigerian status as the headquarters of the West Africa Inter-Religious Council signifies its crucial contribution in fostering and upholding harmonious existence not only within Nigeria but extending to the surrounding nations of West Africa.
Development of Nigeria involves every citizen as a participant.
According to the Secretary to the Government of Nigeria, NIREC is recognized as the supreme entity responsible for fostering peace and managing conflicts within the country. Therefore, he expressed delight that NIREC is working together with Religions for Peace (RfP), which is based in New York, USA, as well as the African Council for Religious Leaders, headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. Akume restated President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s commitment to tackling the issues of hunger and poverty, assuring that the government will refrain from exploiting religion and ethnicity for its own agenda.
At this juncture in the nation’s history, the theme chosen for the fourth quarter meeting, “Restoration of Hope in Nigeria”, holds great commendation. The core objective of the current administration is to reignite the flame of hope within every citizen. It is for this reason that Renewed Hope was its campaign slogan as they prepared for the 2023 elections. He stressed once more that the development of Nigeria involves every citizen as a participant, encouraging a shift in mindset and a refreshed perspective. Cornelius Omonokhua, NIREC’s Executive Secretary, expressed his optimism that the Nigerian government will continue to support and cherish NIREC with the same fervor and commitment it has demonstrated since 1999.
Role of good governance for reviving hope within Nigeria.
More so, NIREC is legally obligated to convene four meetings annually. However, in the present year, 2023, they were only able to hold two meetings during the second and fourth quarters as they had to forgo the first and third quarter meetings in order to grant the new government sufficient time to establish itself. Nonetheless, with the reassurance from the esteemed SGF, Distinguished Senator George Akume, there is hope that the upcoming year of 2024 will surpass the challenges encountered in 2023. The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, who holds a Co-Chairmanship position in NIREC, believes that the convergence of various religious organizations aims solely at the enhancement of Nigerian harmony and overall improvement.
Furthermore, in their collective effort to foster unity and goodwill, Christian and Muslim leaders collaborate towards the preservation and improvement of the nation’s surroundings, summoning harmony and tranquillity. The intention of the Council was to create a collective entity, distinct from the government, albeit with their support in funding its endeavours. It is apparent that the government recognizes its efforts in stabilizing the nation, otherwise, who knows what dire situation the country would be in today without NIREC. Archbishop Daniel Okoh, the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Co-Chairman, emphasized the crucial role of good governance for reviving hope within Nigeria.
Fostering a society that celebrates Transparency and Accountability.
Attaining a point where Nigerians genuinely believe in those in positions of authority must be the Council’s ultimate goal. It will attain this objective through divine intervention. To achieve this, it is necessary to foster a society that not only values but celebrates Transparency and Accountability. It is imperative that it establishes a framework where public officials are held accountable for their decisions and inactions both while serving and post their tenure in office. The CAN President emphasized that the task of restoring hope is not solely dependent on the government or any specific religious faction. Instead, it is a joint initiative demanding resolute dedication and cooperation from all parties involved.