The National Inter-Faith and Religious Organizations for Peace (NIFROP) in Nigeria has called on religious leaders in the country to be united in prayers to complement the efforts of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government in taming ethno-political killings and kidnapping in the country.
The interfaith group said fervent prayer and fasting remain the role of religious leaders to the nagging menace in Nigeria.
The group also called on clergymen and women for concerted spiritual efforts towards rendering the evil of kidnapping, ethnic killings and banditry null and void whilst supporting security agencies to carry out their duties towards defeating them.
Addressing a press conference on Sunday, the group, through its leader, Bishop Prince Madaki , also warned cmessengers of God who covertly or overtly promote ethnic rife and propagate hate sermons to bolster the activities of killers in the name of politics or religion to desist as it would do the nation no good.
Full text of his speech at the conference below.
Shalom to all brethren in the Name of our Gracious Lord! We have just finished the festivities and celebration of Easter, a prime season in the lives of Christendom all over the world. It reminds us of the death and resurrection of our Lord and personal savior, Jesus Christ, who suffered and was crucified for our sinful souls in order to bestow on us eternal life.
Similarly, we extend the same heart-felt greetings to our Muslim brethren all over Nigeria and indeed, to even traditional or African religion worshippers. We are the same and created in the image of ONE GOD Almighty, whom we worship through different modes, but hope for His salvation on the last day by His mercies. At the National Inter- Faith, there is neither Muslim nor Christians in our midst; but proud citizens of a great nation in search of peace for all of God’s creatures in Nigeria and beyond.
We have summoned our respected congregation of members of the pen profession to this hall for a very special reason. But before we bare out our minds to the Nigerian public, permit us to formally welcome you in our midst. May the peace of our Heavenly Father, the Almighty God be with you all.
4. Let us begin straightaway that by all ramifications, we are the least qualified to invite you to listen to us; but we intend to speak to Nigerians and you are the best instruments of conveying this message to our people.
We understand right from creation that all of us are members of the same family. Though, we may differ in religious sects or worship faiths, creeds or doctrines, but we remain the same brethren.
So, this message is very important and we believe you may understand with us and forgive us for any lapse observed in the course of this presentation or interaction.
Without mincing words, our dear country has been blessed by the Almighty God with abundant natural and Human Resources today. Today we have one of the best Presidents in the world and it is clear that those who fear the prosperity of our nation will never go to bed to sleep.
But today, we are being tormented by evil men and the country is in severe violent conflicts and killings being instigated by some demonic and selfish Nigerians. This is a painful fact known to all of us seated here and the generality of Nigerians in states, communities and homesteads. We cannot pretend about this frustrating reality.
Whether in Southern or Northern Nigeria, there are choking and consuming crises everywhere in the land, as if we are competing in bloodbath and arson against ourselves. These are avoidable crisis but for politics and tribal differences, many have refused to say the truth and by that the blood-flow has continued.
Our country’s map is today redesigned and coloured with blood, anguish, pains and awful destructions. Most touchy is the realization that as Nigerians, we are collectively responsible for the widespread and condemnable bloodshed on the land which have clearly reduced our worth before the Creator. Yesterday, it was Boko Haram and all thanks to our military and the President, that has faded from our country’s history and just a little to totally extinguish them. Though we haven’t given our military all it takes but they have continued to do their best.
God Almighty has reminded us in several Scriptural verses that He shall visit us with pestilence if one hair on the head of any of His beloved son or daughter is removed without His knowledge. But it’s clear we have not heeded to this counsel. And God says, “Peace be unto those who make peace.” Unfortunately, it has never appealed to us, as a people and a nation to be our brothers’ keepers as the Holy Scriptures enjoin us.
We don’t necessarily need to replay to you or Nigerians, the gory images or scenes of violence and deaths to have our point sink. But suffice it to assert again that our country has become one hellish place to dwell. Have we truly lost our sense of godliness and humanity to very dumbfounding levels of killing and kidnapping ourselves like wild animals in the jungle over minor provocations or disagreements?
The soul of mother Nigeria is not at peace; it is in ruins! We have compromised our security everywhere. Hundreds of thousands of us have become refugees in our own country. Meanwhile, Nigeria is not at war with any external aggressor. Evil political lords are at war with the wishes of the masses of our country who expressed same in February and returned President Buhari in a landslide victory.
So, the inspiration and vision we have gotten from God tells us the time has come for all of us to see something greater in the life God has given us freely than the vanities of the earth, we fight and kill ourselves daily to possess or protect. It was through prayers that we first defeated the evil of Boko Haram and God heard our prayers by giving to us President Buhari to donour battle. The Service Chiefs and particularly the Chief of Army Staff who led the war is still around and are working day and night. But they need our prayers and total cooperation to put these evil men to shame.
How can we explain to God Almighty that we have so devalued the gift of the life in us to the point we have raised and sustained armed banditry, killings by ethnic militias, religious zealots, tribal warlords without defined missions, terrorists or insurgents? How do we feel when we take up arms against ourselves in killings and destructions? Why are the clergy promoting violence on the pulpit, worship or in secret places? North or South, it is the same sad tales that have engulfed Nigeria. The war being instigated by men on the pulpit is worse than what armed men are doing. Evil must not be found amongst us.
There are a thousand questions we cannot find earthly answers, outside the explanation that the grace of God has deserted us so shamefully, in spite of our profession of religiosity.
Time has come and is precisely ripe for us to prove to God that His grace has not abandoned us. We do not intend to insult the sensibilities of the followers of any faith; but we have every reason now to believe God’s grace and His special blessings have departed from us. That’s why the land is in turmoil.
And the cankerworm of crises has more gravely affected us because our political leaders at the state or local government levels through actions or inactions have emboldened it. We sympathize with our brethren in most of the federating states, the deliberate refusal of leaders to carter for our welfare, spurring hunger and or, even the failure to erect alternative disputes resolution mechanisms to curtail the activities of crisis entrepreneurs when they come visiting us at the odd hour in evil designs against ourselves.
This is unhealthy for the peace, security, development and progress of any country. We cannot triumph even in the sight of God by creating or promoting violence through inter-faith conflicts, ethnic supremacy and such other motivations for killings of ourselves.
May we seize this opportunity to warn the clergy or messengers of God who covertly or overtly promote ethnic rife or propagate hate sermons to bolster the activities of killers in the name of politics or religion. These acts are not of God and failure to desist, means, they will be randomly exposed and disgraced by Almighty God in no distant time.
Finally, we appeal to all Nigerians to go down on their kneels in ceaseless fasting and prayers for God to rescue Nigeria from bloodsucking vermins. And it is a clarion call to every genuine religious leader irrespective of denomination or creed to pray for Nigeria and also, urge their congregation to do so. It is their responsibility to give the government a guide to lead the nation to peace and prosperity, not violence, killings and destructions or hate sermons on the pulpit, laced in outward piousness.
Please assist us convey this message, loud and clear for the Holy Scriptures admonishes in Gen. 6: 11-13 that “the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth”.