Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos has directed the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) to conduct an enumeration of religious centres across the state.
Ambode gave the directive while inaugurating 798 members of the NIREC appointed for the 20 Local Governments and 37 Local Council Development Areas in Lagos.
He was represented by Dr AbdulHakeem Abdul-Lateef, the Commissioner for Home Affairs at the inauguration.
“One of the core functions you are going to discharge is the collation of religious institutions at the local government level.
“You must ensure that you compile a list of all churches, all mosques, all faith-based organisations and forward same to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
“I must also urge you to work closely with the local government chairman and all other officials at the local government level.
“You are working directly with NIREC at the state level.
“Always make sure that you relate any matter that is beyond your capacity to the state NIREC and through the state NIREC, it will get to my office as the governor of Lagos State.
“Your meetings will hold quarterly and I urge you to have extra-ordinary meetings in cases of emergencies.
“I urge you to cooperate with the local government officials and do your best to promote peace and orderliness at the local government level.’’
Speaking earlier, the co-chairman (Muslim) of the state NIREC, Dr Tajudeen Yusuf, said the inauguration of the council at the local government level was a proactive step taken by the government.
He said that this would ensure continued peaceful co-existence among all people of diverse religious and ethnic groups in the state.
“Today, we are inaugurating the members of NIREC at grassroots and it is a proactive step on the part of our governor to ensure that the monumental development that Lagos State is witnessing today is not taken for granted.
“Muslims and Christians are in a better position to ensure that we continue to have peace and inter-religious dialogue as well as peaceful co-existence in Lagos State.
“We are, by this inauguration, taking inter-religious dialogue to the grassroots so that when crises arise, they are quickly nipped in the bud,’’ Yusuf said.
Also speaking, the co-chairman (Christian) of the state NIREC, Dr Israel Akinadewo, remarked that religious leaders must continue to educate their followers, especially the vulnerable ones at the grassroots.
“A Christian leader is a Christian whose actions and inactions are not only Christ-like but serves as a good example to younger Christians.
“Also in a country like Nigeria and irrespective of what they do for a living, many people are majorly Christians and Muslims.
“Within the NIREC, the people respect the opinions of their leaders, who they refer to as the representatives of God.
“Hence their views on any matter are taken very seriously.
“Religious leaders should not encourage wars, hatred and vengeance.
“They are to be firm in the discipline of any of their followers who take steps that work contrary to Godly teachings,’’ Akinadewo said.
The State Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs, Mr Muslim Folami, commended Ambode for running a community-based government of inclusion by bringing governance down to the grassroots.
Folami said that by taking the NIREC activities to the grassroots, it would be easier for government to nip any crisis in the bud.
Fourteen persons, comprising seven Muslims and seven Christians each, were appointed into the NIREC in the 20 LGAs and 37 LCDAs in the state.