Some religious and traditional leaders on Friday expressed optimism that Nigeria could still achieve peaceful coexistence despite the crises in the country.
The leaders, including the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, and the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, spoke during a conference in commemoration of this year’s International Peace Day, organised by UFUK Dialogue in collaboration with the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, the Youth Wing of CAN, and the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria.
The event had the theme ‘Action for Peace’, with the aim of encouraging proactive efforts towards peace-building in Nigeria.
Okoh in his keynote address emphasised the significance of peaceful coexistence in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society.
“The collaboration to provide an opportunity for this kind of conversation is an indication that peaceful coexistence is possible if we are committed and sincere with our intentions,” Okoh said.
He also called on participants to align their words with actions by actively engaging in peace-building activities. “We need to ‘walk the talk’ if we want to achieve lasting peace,” he stated.
The CAN president also emphasised the need for youths, often used as agents of crisis, to become champions of peace.
He listed several actions to maintain peace to include defending religious freedom, joining peace movements, refraining from sharing fake news and promoting love and mutual respect.
These steps, he said, could lead to a peaceful and developed Nigeria.
The Sultan, represented by Mallam Isah Hassan, said, “We cannot sit idly by and watch our future destroyed by the so-called elite. We should not allow ourselves to be used as tools to harm one another.”
The President of the UFUK Dialogue Foundation, Emrah Ilgen, highlighted the interconnection between peace and sustainable development. He emphasised that peace is an active commitment that transcends ideologies and boundaries.
Ilgen called for global cooperation and education as key tools in promoting peace.
He added, “By educating ourselves and future generations about tolerance, empathy and the value of diversity, we can break the cycle of hatred and prejudice.”
The Director-General of IPCR, Dr Joseph Ochogwu, decried the lack of investment towards engendering peace in the country.
“The country’s investment in peace is severely lacking. However, peace cannot be seen; it is felt. Therefore, it may not appear as a typical investment,” he stated.
Ochogwu also called for collaborative efforts to achieve tangible peace-building results.
The Peace Week Conference was organised as a significant event to foster unity and harmony among various religious communities and promote peace in Nigeria, demonstrating the collective will to move beyond rhetoric towards tangible actions for peace.