Sultan, Akiolu others seek promotion of diversity

Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu

• Say Nigerian’s diversity a blessing for national unity, peace
President-General, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar and Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, among others dignitaries at the University of Lagos Muslim Alumni (UMA) Pre-Ramadan Lecture, in Lagos called for promotion of diversity in the country.

Other speakers at the event include the Lagos State Deputy Governor Dr Idiat Adebule, and Osun State Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, who also enjoined Nigerians to eschew events that can hamper peaceful coexistence in the country.

Sultan described diversity as nature’s signature, saying the nature, is sustained only through its diversity.

He said: “Without diversity nature cannot be sustained and the world as we know it today would not be there… Of course, even within Islam there are diversities, of tribes, cultures, schools, interpretations and views. This intra-religious diversity should be even easier to manage because the fundamentals of the belief system and the ultimate goals are the same,” he said.

He added that: “Islam recognises the reality of diversity. It accepts it and rises above it to show that what matters is not race which is geographical or colour which is skin-deep but the quality of human character. That the human being is defined not by where he comes from or what language he speaks or even what social class he comes from, rather what he believes in and what values drive his character and behavior”.

Oba Akiolu described dishonesty as one of the major challenges facing the country.

Nigeria, he said, would develop if the larger population were honest in carrying out their duties.

He described President Muhammadu Buhari as rare among the politicians in the country.

According to him, the task of cleaning the country of mess is not for the president alone, “it is for all of us.”

Oyetola said the time had come for Nigerians regardless of socio-economic, religious, political and ethnic differences, to rise against insurgency and other acts capable of truncating the peaceful atmosphere.

He condemned insurgency in some parts of the country and called on Nigerians to see the country’s diversity as a blessing for national unity, peace and integration.

The Governor urged citizens to place as priority the bond that binds everyone together as a united entity rather than inciting one another to cause mayhem.

He said: “Unfortunately, we engage in the negativity of intolerance in diversity, hence we have xenophobia, ethnic and religious chauvinism, which is often wrapped around religion to justify these evil and un-Islamic positions.

Oyetola who described the religion of Islam as an antithesis to violence and insurgency, called on the interlopers to stop wrecking havocs in disguise under Islam.

He warned the perpetrators to sheath their swords and embrace peace in the interest and future of the country.

Oyetola called on government at all levels to evolve policies that would strengthen unity in diversity.

He said: “Hate and extremism, therefore, is not intrinsic to Islam and was never a part of our spiritual DNA. If we are to promote diversity, we must chain this beast called extremism. In Nigeria, thousands have lost their lives to mindless nihilistic violence perpetrated by Boko Haram, who are simple bandits parading themselves to be Muslims.”

“Again in another clime -The white supremacist zealot-Brenton Tarrant shocked the world when he gunned down 50 Muslims from diverse backgrounds and countries in cold blood as they prayed in Mosques in New Zealand just a few weeks ago, and about 25 years before Tarrant went on his rampage, in the very year this Ramadan lecture started, one Baruch Goldstein, a Jewish zealot, gunned down Palestinian Muslim worshippers killing 29 and wounding 125 on February 25th, 1994.

“God has created multitudes where each individual or creature or phenomenon is unique in and of itself. It is this same diversity we mean when we say Nigeria is a multi-ethnic nation.

“We must therefore call out governments engaged in discriminatory policies that promote extremism as we call out extremists engaged in violence.

“I am a Governor today of the State of Osun, ruling over millions of Muslims, Christians and traditional worshippers. I owe them all fairness, justice without discrimination while affirming the diversity that Allah the creator of the world has entrenched within his creations. “We should note today that we Muslims are well placed to lead change against such noxious perceptions.”

Adebule said Islam is a religion of peace, urging its adherents to ensure peaceful co-existence with believers of other faiths.

The deputy governor said: “To us all, as Muslims and all religious beliefs, we must continue to use religion as a tool to promote peaceful co-existence, tolerance and good neighbourliness.

“Our administration remains committed to ensuring the right environment for all religions to thrive without discrimination. I am proud to say that Lagos State has the enviable record of being a state where different religions co-exist peacefully without friction and we are obliged to continue to promote this through policies and programmes that enhance better life for all,”

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