61st Independence: Group urges govt to promote religious tolerance, harmony

The Christian Empowerment Forum, an NGO, has urged the Federal Government to promote religious tolerance, harmony, inter-ethnic and intra-ethnic understanding among the citizens.

Mr Ifunnaya Ogbonnaya, the Convener of the group said this in an Interview with our correspondent on Tuesday in Abuja.

According to him, political intolerance, religious disharmony and conflicts on ethnic supremacy are major causes of slow and poor development in the country.

“If the government believes in the unity and progress of Nigeria, it must perpetually and continuously make efforts to promote ethnic tolerance, religious tolerance and harmony.

“There is clearly a religious crisis and an ethnic supremacy clash in our country, which is hindering growth and development.

“It is therefore pertinent for the government to promote healthy environment that gives room for everybody to express its culture and religion without fear, bias or threat of any kind.

“The government must guarantee Nigerians their religious freedom and culture by upholding the nation as a secular state according to its constitution.

“And it remains its sole responsibility and duty to foster peace and harmony that will lead to rapid and sustainable growth, and development as well as integrate unity among Nigerians,” he said.

Ogbonnaya also tasked the government to progressively promote and integrate the diverse cultures of Nigerians in a way to engender national cultural identity for the country.

He said that the government must begin to see the Nigerian culture and religion as a totality of complex attainments, beliefs and customs, which formed the country’s collective identity.

He, however, appealed that no culture or religion should be appraised above another; and no ethnic group or sect should be exalted above others.

According to him, it is the diverse culture and religion that distinguishes Nigeria and gives her its unique qualities and character in Africa.

Ogbonnaya called on the government to view all the religions in the country and all the cultures in practice as instruments for nation building and development and not a political weapon to bring destruction.

He also appealed to the government to promote all forms of fundamental human rights by allowing Nigerians exercise their rights within the limits provided by the law.

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