By Bankole Shakirudeen Adeshina
Registrar of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, has urged Nigerians to eschew hatred, conflicts, suspicion and imputation of motive to attract national development.
Oloyede, who is also the Secretary General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), made the plea at the first Ramadan Lecture of the Point Newspapers held at LTV 8 Agidingbi, Lagos.
Theme of the lecture is: “Achieving Peace, Stability and Good Governance in a Multi-Ethnic and Multi-Religious Society: The Islamic Perspective.”
According to him, with some level of education and the courtesy of tolerance, the religious diversity of Nigerians should instead be explored as strength upon which to promote a more robust and knowledge driven inter-religious relationship than fanning the ember of national discord at the slightest provocation.
Oloyede, a former Vice Chancellor of University of Ilorin, reiterated that it is no news that the country is a repository of people with over 250 ethnic groups and over 500 languages, but same people are disproportionate in statistics and loyalties to ethnicity over nationality.
According to him, the conflict between the Tiv and the Fulani is being aggravated by political and religious irredentist assisted by irresponsible media.
“If not for political expediency, the sociology of Tiv-Fulani relations and linguistic dynamics of asking ‘where are my cows by Fulani man and the response of I have eaten it by a Tiv man’ would have resonated a long history of such inter-group relations.
“But, where desperate politicians seek relevance, any straw can be held on to gain cheap political points. Nigerians should not fall for the propaganda, whether from the politicians or from religious bodies.
“A deep reflection of what is being presented as a new clash would have shown that it is a conflict that is as old as Nigeria.
“The colonial masters created grazing routes, forest reserves and mediating teams to address the economic and social friction between the Tiv-farmers and the roving herdsmen,” he said.
Speaking on the recent killings, he urged Nigerians to emulate the call by the Catholic Bishops on the government to take more drastic measures in addressing the killings in Benue and other places in Nigeria.
“On the issue of Christians being killed by herdsmen, the truth remains that more Christians, like their Muslim counterparts, were killed by Boko Haram, no religious body held the former president responsible.
“In spite of the alleged conspiracy theory that Boko Haram was an economic venture of some of public officers, the NSCIA did not accuse the former president as being sponsors.
“Does it not smack if religious bigotry and undisguised wickedness that President Muhammadu Buhari is being directly targeted by the zealots?,” he asked.
“For instance, on the issue of Christians being killed by herdsmen and other bandits, the truth remains that more Christians, like their Muslim counterparts, were killed by Boko Haram and other bandits during the Presidency of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
“No religious body then held Dr. Jonathan responsible. Despite the conspiracy theory that “Boko Haram” was an economic venture of some Public Officers, the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) did not accuse President Jonathan as being the sponsor.
He also called the attention of Nigerian journalists to the ‘Tafawa Balewa massacre and deafening silence of the Media”, saying the carnage that happened in the town had evaded the eyes of the media.
“In Tafawa Balewa today, the same community that produced the first (1st) Prime Minister of Nigeria, there is no mosque not to talk of calling to prayers. Apart from killing Muslims mercilessly, all the Muslims were exiled. Muslims of the community still remain in disarray as internally displaced people. All entreaties to President Jonathan and lately President Buhari on the matter have not yielded any positive result.
“Muslim leaders continue to mount pressure that displaced Muslims of Tafawa Balewa be restored to their ancestral home. I call on investigative journalists to focus some attention on the plight of Muslim community in Tafawa Balewa town of Bauchi State.
Chairman of the Ramadan Lecture, Alhaji Tunji Ishola, also the Baba Adinni of Yorubaland, Edo and Delta, said that the topic was apt and timely.
Ishola urged Nigerians to embrace peace.
He said that Nigeria was not a circular nation, but “a multi-religious nation”, describing Islam as a religion of peace.
“Let me seize this opportunity to let Nigerians know that there is nothing like Islamic terrorism, Islam is a religion of peace and we are peaceful people.
“It is also important that whatever is due to both religions must not be denied them on account of religion. Peace has always been practiced for the past 200 years in Yorubaland.
“We have been experiencing peaceful coexistence in all religion. This topic is to enlighten ourselves on the peaceful coexistence. It is something that is worthy of note,” Ishola said.