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Ethnic, religious and political profiling is avoidable

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[FILES] Youths

The second quarterly meeting of the Nigeria Inter-religious Council (NIREC) held on May 19, 2021 at Reiz Continental Hotel, Abuja with the theme: “Ethnic, Religious And Political Profiling Is Avoidable.” This theme was chosen because of the incessant attacks and unrest in Nigeria. NIREC is a council jointly owned by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA). NIREC with different committees to assist government at all levels to promote peaceful co-existence, security, unity, wellbeing and the common good of the Nigerian citizens. Neither Christians nor Muslims can effectively reconcile the differences and divisions in Nigeria hence both in the form of dialogue of social engagements seek to unite and reconcile the religious, ethnic and political pluralism of the nation.

I believe in Nigeria and I am proud to be a Nigerian. Let us not get trapped in international politics. Some of us are who we are and what we are within the space and opportunities offered by Nigeria. That things seem to be falling apart now does not mean that Nigeria will never rise again. Those who have travelled to other parts of Africa may believe that Nigeria is a home in spite of the present challenges. This theme is chosen to open up a conversation on the beauty of varieties. Differences and commonalities are not peculiar to Nigeria as a nation. Somalia is one of the countries that had a single tribe and a single religion. Students of world history would not easily forget Somalia as a failed State when their citizens and leaders started to stress clans within the common tribe.

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I believe in a united Nigeria because I do not believe that the problem of Nigeria is ethnicity, religion and democracy. I believe that the problem of Nigeria is more of greed of the few that has put the majority into abject penury and hardship. We must not allow greedy people and international politicians fragment Nigeria with religion and ethnicity. The earlier, we believe that there is no conflict between Islam and Christianity in Nigeria the better for each one of us and the nation at large. This does not mean that Christians and Muslims do not have conflict. It is this conflict that calls for dialogue, conflict prevention, conflict management and conflict transformation. That a Muslim is President does not mean that the challenges of the country connote an Islamic agenda just as it should not be interpreted when a Christian is a President, that the woes of the nation is a Christian agenda.

What we need more today is a change of attitude and values on the side of the citizens if the nation must make progress. While we pray for good leadership, let us also pray for mental re-engineering of the citizens. The challenges we have in Nigeria are more of values and vision than the failure of structure. Leaders may be incompetent in providing security in a particular regime, this does not mean that Nigeria lacks credible and capable human beings with the sufficient capacity to lead the nation. We must not allow tribe and religion to be our source of division and choice of political leaders. If we must fight, let us fight for supremacy in moral values and technological renaissance. If every citizen in Nigeria is comfortable, secure and happy, no one will think of ethnic, religious and political profiling.

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Our common humanity is a call to common nationality. If we believe that we all came from the same source — God Who is our common Creator, we shall be able to avoid ethnic and religious profiling. That we are created human beings with intelligence, soul and spirit means that we need to find unity in our ethnic and religious multiplicity. Here, we can also affirm our common Nigerian identity. The Federal Government needs to create a conducive environment for unity by strengthening the police and the judiciary. The failure of the police force and judiciary can ruin any nation in terms of security. If there is justice for every citizen, that would go a long way to prevent ethnic and religious profiling. If there is justice, the nation would not need to deploy the army for internal insurrection.

The situation in the world today calls for media honesty and information management. The media ought to source news based on truth that promote common wellbeing. Information must be a product of sufficient enquiry and dialogue on the issues at stake. Conflicting issues call for dialogue of encounter with policy makers. Rushing to the press can lead to negative reportage and media dishonesty. We must avoid using the media as brain washing machines to manipulate the readers and listeners. Unfounded sources in media coverage can lead to war because “until the lion learns to write; the story will always glorify the hunter.”  This is why the office of NIREC has called on the media assistants to the Christian Association of Nigeria and the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs to be friends, cross check facts and work as a team to promote positive reportage and media honesty. We believe that this effort would prevent ethnic, religious and political profiling.

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The foot soldiers during any form of insurgency are jobless youths. Nobody who values life with a good job may carry weapons of human destruction. To empower the youths, NIREC in collaboration with KAICIID is involved in an ongoing project titled, “voice of the youth.” The project is targeted at youths in eight Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Kano State metropolis. Townhall meetings are held in each of these LGAs with the view of enlightening the youth on peaceful coexistence, healthy living and importance of dialogue. At the end of it all, their opinions would be sought-after on government policies. The final report would be presented to the state governor, Kano House of Assembly, Kano Attorney General and the Emir of Kano. It is hoped that this project would advocate for youth friendly policies in the state. After, Kano State, we hope to move to other states. With the inauguration of the different committees of NIREC, Christians and Muslims hope to be more involved in the concerns and issues that would promote a united Nigeria in the place of any profiling that could put this great nation asunder.

Fr. Omonokhua is the executive secretary of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council, NIREC (nirec.ng@gmail.com)

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