The founder of Cardinal Onaiyekan Foundation for Peace (COFP), Cardinal John Onaiyekan, yesterday urged fellow Nigerians to join forces in the fight against insecurity in the country.
The eminent cleric spoke at the graduation ceremony of the fifth set of COFP Fellowship Programme on Inter-Religious Dialogue and Conflict.
He said the recent activities of terrorists had led to destruction of lives and properties, praying that the situation would end soon.
Onaiyekan said what is needed and necessary is for Christians, Muslims and traditional leaders to join forces of heart, mind and hands to deal with the common menace.
“We need a high dose of optimism and conviction to continue to work for inter-religious harmony and co-operation in our nation today.
“This is what our foundation decided to continue doing, no matter what the odds may be,” he said.
Onaiyekan said what Nigeria is passing through is similar to what is happening in many other African countries, adding that it requires urgent attention.
“Africa must begin by investing more in addressing vulnerabilities for sustainable peace. Peace is lacking in many corners of Africa.
“Managing Africa’s fragile peace means engaging in several evidence-driven interventions.
“The responses to numerous conflicts in Africa should be tailored to the specific realities and contexts of the conflicts and the environment,” he said.
Onaiyekan congratulated the graduands, saying the fellowship was committed to transforming hate, mistrust, and religious extremism into harmonious and lasting relationships for socially cohesive societies across Africa.
COFP Co-Facilitator Imam Muhammad Ashafa said the foundation is a symbol of peace in the society, adding that the fellowship was dedicated to spreading unity across the country.
Ashafa urged the leaders to live in one spirit to enable the younger ones emulate such spirit.
COFP’s Executive Director, Rev. Sister Agatha Chikelue, said the programme is for a year.
The executive director explained that it was subdivided into three modules.
She added that it had gathered about 60 to 80 national and international stakeholders across Africa.
Chikelue said out of the 66 graduands, 13 are from other countries, stressing that the goal of the programme is to build common humanity together.
“It is our utmost mission to use this platform in harnessing our rich diversities for peace through insightful interactions among facilitators and fellows.
“We are making every effort to bring about the desired change by initiating proactive measures that enhance social transformation and coexistence,” she said.
The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Mary Leonard, said dialoguing among different people is the only way to address conflicts and crises.
A graduand from Cameroon, Mrs. Joyce Nzelle, said she joined the programme to equip and engage in peace initiative in order to support government to attain peace in the country.