By PALANG KASMI

The elites in Nigeria have been blamed for being the major drivers of criminality and conflict because of their political and other selfish interests, The Sultan of Sokoto, Mohammad Sa’ad Abubakar the 3rd has said.

He made this statement in Jos, Plateau state, at the Hill Station Hotel, during the Dawah Coordination Council of Nigeria (DCCN) Second national summit on peaceful coexistence and nation building 2020 with the theme “Leadership and good governance bedrock for peaceful coexistence.

“Our problem is the elites in this county. They want to maintain their positions at all cost so they use all they have and children of the poor common man to commit crimes while their own children are studying abroad in foreign universities, but this needs to be looked at”.

According to the Sultan, all adherents of both the Christian and Moslem faiths should embrace forgiveness and stop blaming each other after the conflicts, to bring atmosphere of peace in the county.

Declaring the 4-day summit open, the Governor of Plateau state, Bar. Simon Bako Lalong who described the inter-faith gathering as timely said he is hopeful that with the caliber of participant’s issues of peaceful coexistence of citizens through good governance and leadership, and solutions will be advanced.

He said “The current challenges of poverty, corruption, insecurity and inadequate infrastructure across our country, certainly calls for sincere and frank discourse that will motivate us to action in finding lasting solutions. So much of our challenges as a nation have been blamed on poor leadership and bad governance which increases the tendencies for conflicts, insecurity and unrest, while at the same time exacerbating poverty and desperation among the people”.

“When we assumed office, Plateau State was devastated by crises that deeply divided the citizens along religious, ethnic and political lines as well as brought economic activities to an all-time low. The first thing we did was to begin a process of healing and reconciliation through confidence building, driven by an inclusive governance style which facilitated peace-building and reduced mistrust among the people”.

“Our belief that peace is the bedrock of development saw us quickly establishing the Plateau Peace Building Agency which became the lead agency in driving our efforts to genuine reconciliation. I am happy to say that our efforts have yielded positive results and today, many States have since come to learn from us seeing that our State is now regaining its status as the Home of Peace and Tourism”.

While calling on leaders of thought, religious, traditional and political leaders to avoid suing divisive and inciting language in their utterances, the Governor said it the duty of every good leader to bridge the gap and reduce the factors that trigger mistrust, hatred and bigotry between different ethnic nationalities and religious adherents.

“We must not always exploit the fault lines of politics, religion and ethnicity which can easily make us derail and create disharmony among the people. If we do justice to all irrespective of differences, there will be peace and progress. Anything contrary, will make us slide deeper into chaos. Another area where leadership and good governance needs to be critically looked at, is the management of public resources in a prudent, accountable and equitable manner. This will facilitate the creation of jobs and economic opportunities as well as reducing crime”.

In his speech, The Gbong Gwom Jos and Chairman, Plateau State Council of Chiefs and Emirs, Da Jacob Gyang Buba called on people to down play most of the negative sentiments that set a wedge among the two religious faiths and understand that all criminals need to be punished, despite their religious, political ethnic or other affiliations.

While blaming the escalation of conflicts on the negative role played by some religious and traditional leaders, and the neglect of parental responsibilities, the traditional ruler said “A lot of Imams in Islam and Pastors in Christianity are blind and have lack of knowledge, and they preach hate instead of love therefore the half-baked preachers should be put off the streets for misguiding and misleading their adherents”.

Speaking earlier, the National President, DCCN, Mallam Mohammed Lawal Maidoki said his organisation has been promoting peace for the past two decades said the main target of the summit is for stakeholders to come together to understand the need to work for security and peaceful coordination.

“We have worked with many Christian and Moslem organisations and must constantly tell ourselves to always live in peace in our environment because both the Christian and Moslem faiths have lived together in peace, in the past”.

Condemning the recent killings that happened in parts of Mangu and Bokkos LGA’s, Maidoki said whether you are right or wrong, violence affects everyone so it is imperative for both Christians and Moslems to live together because violence affects everyone”

The guest speakers Prof. Garba Sharubutu, Executive Secretary, Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), and Rev. Dr. Yakubu Pam, Chairman Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Northern Zone and the Federal Capital Territory, in their separate presentations charged the forum to embrace peace and forgiveness as a panacea for peaceful coexistence in Nigeria.

Among those at the event are traditional rulers, religious bodies, faith based organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations and top government functionaries.

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