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Osinbajo: Unity, tolerance key drivers of peace

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says unity and tolerance are crucial values needed to safeguard peace and stability in a multi-religious society like Nigeria.

Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Thursday, said the vice president said tis when he received a delegation of Imams, Islamic scholars and Muslim leaders from all over the country in Abuja.

The delegation of more than 25 Islamic clerics, intellectuals and leaders of different groups was drawn from higher institutions, National Council of Ulamas, Qadiriyya Movement, Fitiyanul Islam of Nigeria and Darika Sect.

Also in the delegation were National Council of Muslim Youths, Muslim Students Society of Nigeria, Jammat Tajdidul Islamy, Salafiyya Youth Movement, Imams from the National Mosque and Legislative Quarters in Apo, Abuja among others.

The delegation was led by Prof. Siraj Abdulkarim from ABU Zaria, the National Chairman of the Community and Youth Development, (CYD), a public affairs group of Ulamas.

Addressing the delegation, Osinbajo said that until one engaged with the people, one could not tell what they and others wanted.

“Engagement is so important, I believe very strongly in engagement.”

He narrated his experience since becoming vice president on how people welcomed engagement by their leaders even in difficult circumstances.

Osinbajo said he was delighted by  the visit of the delegation,  saying that such honour did not come often.

The vice president asked members of the delegation to suggest ways for the country to attain more unity and promised that the interaction with members of the delegation and such other groups in the country would not be a one-off.

“I am enriched from what I have heard today and I have noted all the issues. I wish we had a bit more time; I agree we should engage more.

“The issues you have raised show us clearly that the future of this country lies with the elites, especially religious and political elites.”

Osinbajo urged religious and political elite to show more responsibility in ensuring peace and positive changes in society.

According to him, religious elite, just like the political elite, are responsible for ensuring positive change.

He suggested the creation of a forum of religious leaders who would see themselves more on a rescue mission with the purpose of forging more understanding.

Osinbajo said that Nigeria was a country with both Muslim and Christian population, adding that  in the Southwest, both religions were practiced in many families.

“As Christians and Muslims we must preach love and tolerance,” he said.

Earlier, one of the leaders of the delegation, the Chief Imam of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Dr Abdul  Abdul-Lateef described the vice president as a leader who loved all Nigerians, regardless of religious or ethnic differences.

He added that members of the delegation were eager to collaborate with the vice president.

“We are here in recognition of your love for all Nigerians and your belief in the harmonious existence of our country.

“We understand the kind of love you have for all Nigerians.”

Abdul-Lateef, who was formerly Lagos State Commissioner for Home Affairs also observed that in the vice president’s office no fewer than 18 Muslims were part of the senior cadre of staff including the Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr Rahman Ade Ipaye.

On his part, leader of the delegation, Abdulkarim said the visit was  a demonstration of  love for the country.

He added that the unnecessary rivalry between Christians and Muslims had to be doused and called on the vice president to initiate a programme to further promote understanding and unity.

He also called for a more invigorating fight against corruption in the country.

In his own remarks, the Chief Imam of Abuja National Mosque, Prof. Ibrahim Maqari, said that religious leaders also have a duty to pray for Nigeria, which they had been doing.

In the same vein, the President of Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, Ustaz Shehu Usman, commended the vice president for his invaluable contribution to nation-building.

On his part, Dr Haroun Ajah, the Southeast Coordinator of the Council of Ulama praised the vice president for being “sound, exceptional and intelligent.”

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