By Jessica Onyegbula
His Grace, Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, on Wednesday, urged Nigerians to cultivate the culture of dialogue to foster peaceful coexistence.
Kaigama made the call at the 3rd General Assembly and Peace Conference with the theme ”Inter-Religious Dialogue: Strengthening the Culture of Peace, Reconciliation and Justice”, in Abuja.
He said that dialogue was not intended to convert the other or exhibit tendencies of superiority but simply to be brothers or sisters in the true sense of the world.
He defined Inter-Religious dialogue as people of different faiths coming to a mutual understanding and respect that allowed them to live and cooperate with each other in spite of their differences.
Kaigama, however, stressed that to strengthen the culture of dialogue, religious leaders should be mindful of their utterance, especially dabbling into political predictions and instigating religious bigotry.
”To foster inter-religious harmony, we should create dialogue centres in communities, districts, chiefdoms, local governments, cities (as we did in Jos), states and if possible, a Ministry at the Federal level for dialogue and reconciliation.
”There is no gain saying that we can climb the highest heights and make a powerful impact in the world, if we avoid narrow religious sentiments and religious idiosyncrasies that refuse to help us catch up with the fast-growing modern world.
”We urgently need to sustain the culture of genuine interreligious dialogue, from where justice, peace and reconciliation will flow like a river,” he said.
Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, who was represented by the Aso Villa Chaplain, Pastor Seyi Malomo, noted that one of the fundamentals that strengthen peace in a heterogeneous society is in their unique attribute to forgive a wrong and forgive quickly.
Osinbajo added that it was important because in an ethnoreligious and a heterogeneous society as ours, there would be instances when one would be offended by ones neighbour.
“You cannot avoid it. As a Yoruba adage says, “Ma fo mi kan ara, ki bo si e ba odo” Meaning: if you don’t want water to touch you, you do not go and play too close to the river.
”The river in this case, is Nigeria and all of us in Nigeria are not just by that river, but we are in the river.
”There is bound to be instances of offence which may threaten peaceful coexistence, but that threat will be quickly eroded when we can be like children to forgive, quickly forgive, offer apologies and continue coexistence,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that over 300 religious leaders attended the 3rd annual General Assembly and Peace Conference held in Abuja. (NAN)