To foster national unity and peaceful coexistence, key religious and civic leaders, including the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Archbishop Daniel Okoh, and the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, have stressed the importance of not just talking about peace but taking concerted actions to achieve it.
They spoke at a conference organized by UFUK Dialogue in collaboration with the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), the Youth Wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria, and the Muslim Student Society, held in Abuja on Friday.
The leaders deliberated on the theme of this year’s International Peace Day, ‘Action for Peace,’ with the aim of encouraging proactive efforts towards peace-building in Nigeria.
The CAN President, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, emphasized the significance of peaceful coexistence in Nigeria’s multi-ethnic and multi-religious society during his keynote address.
“The collaboration to provide an opportunity for this kind of conversation is an indication that peaceful co-existence is possible if we are committed and sincere with our intentions,” Okoh said
He further urged participants to align their words with actions by actively engaging in peace-building activities.
“We need to ‘walk the talk’ if we want to achieve lasting peace,” he said.
The CAN President also emphasized the necessity of Nigerian youths, who are often used as agents of crisis, being converted into champions of peace.
He further listed several actions to maintain peace, including defending religious freedom, joining peace movements, refraining from sharing fake news, and promoting love and mutual respect.
Okoh pointed out that these steps could lead to a peaceful and developed Nigeria.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, represented by Mallam Isah Ibrahim Hassan, stressed the unity of the Nigerian youth as a crucial element in peace-building.
“We cannot sit idly by and watch our future be destroyed by the so-called elites. We should not allow ourselves to be used as tools to harm one another,” he said.
The president of the UFUK Dialogue Foundation, Emrah Ilgen, underscored the interconnection of peace and sustainable development while commemorating the International Day of Peace at the conference.
He emphasized that peace is an active commitment that transcends ideologies and boundaries.
Ilgen called for global cooperation and education as key tools in promoting peace.
He said, “By educating ourselves and future generations about tolerance, empathy, and the value of diversity, we can break the cycle of hatred and prejudice.”
The Director-General of IPCR, Dr. Joseph Ochogwu, criticized the lack of investment in peace in the country.
“The country’s investment in peace is severely lacking. However, peace cannot be seen; it is felt. Therefore, it may not appear as a typical investment,” he stated.
Ochogwu further called for collaborative efforts to achieve tangible peace-building results.
The Peace Week Conference was organized as a significant event to foster unity and harmony among various religious communities and promote peace in Nigeria, demonstrating the collective will to move beyond rhetoric towards tangible actions for peace.