The Secretary General, Anglican Communion Worldwide, and founder of Kaduna Centre for the Study of Christian-Muslim Relations, Most Rev. Josiah Idowu-Fearon, at the weekend, supported Governor Nasir el-Rufai’s efforts to end violent conflict in  Kaduna State. The Centre was founded in 2004 when the Most Rev. was the Archbishop of the Kaduna Diocese of the Anglican Church.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony of Diploma and Certificate students of the Centre held in Kaduna, the Archbishop called on Christians and Muslims to join hands with the el-Rufa’i administration to solve the security challenges in the state. “All Christians and Muslims should come together and joint hands with Governor el-Rufa’i to bring peace in the state,” the Archbishop asserted.

The Kaduna state governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufa’i, who was the special guest at the occasion, urged the graduating students to use their knowledge to advance the cause of peace and harmony, while calling on Muslims and Christians to come together and declare never again to violence and bigotry saying thousands of people have unjustly died in last 37 years in the state.

His words:”Our state has borne too much suffering. Over the course of the last 37 years, thousands of people have died in outbreaks of violence across the state. Let us say enough is enough, mourn all our people who have died, comfort those who have suffered and, in their memory, say never again to violence, never again to bigotry.

“One feature that seems common to our diverse state is that our people claim to be very religious. Yet that devotion to religion has more often been reflected in strife, bitter division and murderous violence as if people of faith are oblivious to the fact that none of us can be wiser than the Almighty who created humanity in different colours, shapes and sizes, and with many tongues and creeds.

“Can we truly proclaim to love God when we so severely despise his other creations who worship differently from us? This government believes that religion should be a private matter.

“My message to all of the graduating students today is that you should use your knowledge to advance peace and harmony. Let us all resolve to strengthen a constituency of religious people that is strongly committed to upholding the rights of every citizen, celebrating our diversity and upholding peace and harmony in our dear state” the governor said.

Meanwhile, the renowned Islamic Scholar, Sheikh Ahmed Gumi, who also spoke at the event, asserted that only Muslims can effectively fight terrorism. Gumi said it was unfortunate that when Saudi Arabia wanted Nigeria to join a coalition of Muslim countries to fight terrorism, Nigerian Christians saw the move as a plot to Islamize the country.

He said: “Saudi Arabia, which is the heart of Islam, wanted a coalition of Muslim states to fight terrorism. Terrorism destroys Muslims more than any other people. This terrorism is mentioned 1400 years before it happens. The Prophet said before the end of time you will find youths, claiming Islam, using the Qur’an; killing people. So it is even mentioned in Islamic books that terrorism is coming.”

According to him, one of the problems of religious intolerance, especially in the North, is ignorance and poverty from both adherents of the two religions. He said mutual suspicion between the two religious groups has denied the country the opportunity to benefit from other countries.

Speaking further, he said, “Fighting terrorism, I am telling you, can only be effectively done by the Muslims themselves. So when you see Muslims coming together to fight terrorism, then you hear Christians voices saying Nigeria should not join this force, because if we join this force, it means we are Islamising Nigeria. This is wrong!

“This coalition, which Saudi Arabia is trying to put together, is to fight extremism and fanaticism. Also, Saudi Arabia is aware that the poverty in the region is one of the contributing factors; therefore they want to come in, build schools, hospitals, lift up the economic status of the nation.

“But we find that in Nigeria, we don’t have our Christian brothers assisting us in this type of association with other Muslims so that we can eradicate terrorism. I am happy that a centre like this is created that will promote the relationship between Christians and Muslims,” he added.

In his goodwill message, His Eminence, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, urged Christians and Muslims to continue to preach and practice peace. “The challenge facing Kaduna State and the north is also facing the country as a whole. We must build bridges not war. I have no regret to the efforts I made for peace,” he said.