By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Abuja, – Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has commended the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs(NSCIA) for promoting interfaith peace, harmony and tolerance.
Osinbajo gave this commendation on Friday while declaring open a three-day General Assembly/National Executive Meeting (NEC) meeting of NSCIA at the Central Mosque, Abuja.
He said the council not only promoted solidarity among Nigerians but it also served as an important intermediary between government and Muslim community and between Muslims and persons of other faith.
“As the highest decision making body of the council, I offer to you this morning both a commendation and a challenge.
“First, the commendation to you for the great leadership you have shown in galvanising the Muslim community in Nigeria despite the denominational differences but for the making the council a vehicle for the promotion of interfaith peace and religious tolerance in Nigeria.
“But the challenge that I pose stems from the theme of this meeting; permit me to put the topic in context so that we do not miss the essence of this topic.
“ So, I will cast the theme to read as follows–The Role of Islam in the Development of a Multi-religious and Multi-ethnic Nation.’’
Osinbajo said that decades ago, it would not have been a major topic as leaders in the first republic did not consider religious intolerance as a major national issue.
“They were more concerned about issues that touch development regardless of religion or ethnicity.
“All leaders and this is my challenge to you today need to learn from the deeply profound actions of the chief Imam and the Good Samaritan, ‘’ he said.
The vice president then cited the courage of Imam Abubakar Abdullahi, who saved the lives of the over 200 Christians in his Mosque during the June 2018 clashes in the Plateau state and the Biblical story of the Good Samaritan.
He said both the Imam and the Good Samaritan typified what leaders should be–ready for selfless sacrifice.
He said that Nigerian Constitution spelt out the equality of all Nigerians regardless of ethnicity, religion or status.
According to him, the Constitution speaks of the imperatives of all individuals and governments to respect the lives and dignity of every Nigerian.
On her part, Wife of the President, Hajia Aisha Buhari said that the meeting was auspicious and timely.
She said that the meeting was critical and compelling as topical issues would be addressed.
“The NSCIA in accordance with its mandate has over the years contributed significantly to peace, security, peace and socioeconomic and political development of this great country, Nigeria.
“Indeed, there is no other time than now when we need the decisions, policies and programmes of the council to be translated in practice by all Muslims in the country.
“The council NEC meeting therefore, captures the essence of peace in the attainment of national development and underscores its commitment to the promotion of peace, security and development which justifies the existence of the every community.
“I, therefore, respectfully call on Muslims all over the country to embrace the communique that will emerge in form of advice and decisions by the council especially those related to our personal affairs as Muslim Ummah in the country and those that concern our relationship with other faiths we promote peaceful existence in this country,’’ she said.
More so, the Sultan of Sokoko, Alhaji Muhammad Abubakar, said that Islam was a religion of peace.
He said that Nigeria, like any other nation, was facing challenges which would be surmounted in people across faith and ethnicity joined hands.
Abubakar said that leaders should remember that leadership was all about service and not an opportunity to display pride and arrogance or boss people around.
The Sultan said that the education of children be taken seriously especially the girl-child.
“We are working hard; we are having a lot of joint programmes with the Supreme Council and the first lady’s office and very soon, you will see programmes that will be beneficial to the common people especially the women.
“Beneficial to thousands of women who have been divorced by their husbands; thousands of young children who cannot go to school,’’ he said.
He said that Nigerian Muslims were solidly behind good leadership.
Earlier, in his opening remarks, Prof. Salisu Shehu, Deputy Secretary, NSCIA, said the meeting was the highest decision making forum of the council.
He said the resolutions would be for the general good of Islam and the nation in general.