Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah, has challenged Northern Governors to address the religious uprising in the region.
Bishop Kukah contended that a situation where Northern Governors meet in Kaduna or in Abuja drinking tea and taking photographs without properly addressing the teething religious problems tearing the North apart is unacceptable.
He spoke yesterday in Yola at the commissioning of Sangere-Marghi Housing Estate, a settlement constructed by the Catholic Diocese of Yola, to accommodate Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, displaced by Boko Haram activities.
He told Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State, that when he and his colleagues meet, either in Abuja or in Kaduna, he should remind them to guide and lead the religious leaders on the way out of the religious intolerance in the region.
According to him, “They should not only be talking about dialogue with Bishops, Imams and Emirs sitting together and taking photographs and drinking tea as there are needs for concrete manifestation of ideas between one another. If the spirit of Islam and Christianity exist in Nigeria actually between members of the two Faiths, we will not be fighting, shedding as much blood as we are seeing today.
“Nigerians are too religious in paper and not in practice and this has made religion to be a liability to us. It is therefore important for both Christians and Muslims to appreciate what the Catholic Diocese of Yola has done today in bringing people of the two faiths dislodged by the Boko Haram under one umbrella.”
He called on the IDPS not to regard themselves as refugees, but to abide by the teachings and practices of their religions while in the estate.
On his part, Governor Fintiri told Muslims and Christian faithful to learn to stay together devoid of religious acrimony, recalling that the issue of religious intolerance in the North began with the Maitatsene uprising of the 1980s.
He lamented that since then, religious crisis seemed to have defied solutions, adding that insurgency, kidnapping , armed banditry and other forms of criminality bedeviling the North were offshoot of the 1980s Maitatsene religious uprising that rocked almost all the states in the North.
In his remarks, Bishop Stephen Mamza, recalled that the years of insurgency and counter insurgency operations have resulted in the displacement of approximately 1.9 Million people and created a crisis in food, shelter, nutrition and loss of livelihood in Nigeria’s northeast.
Mamza stressed that the Yola Diocese had been rendering assistance in feeding and free medical care for over 3000 families.
He said “the construction of the 86 housing estate is sequel to the presence of the IDPS in Yola Diocese which has persisted due to the mass return of IDPs from Cameroon Republic and forceful shutdown of IDP camps by the Adamawa State Government thereby pushing the displaced persons into the outskirts.
“We have carefully carried out assessments and held robust discussions with the IDPS to review their lives in the camp after 4 years and chart a way forward to avoid dependency syndrome and rebuild livelihood n a dignified manner “.
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