From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace (IDPF) has advocated constant dialogue among different faiths and ethnic groups in Nigeria as a means of dousing tensions, neutralizing suspicions and promoting peace and unity among the people.
The Forum admitted that Nigeria is faced with myraid of challenges that includes security, poverty, political and several other challenges that have threatened the existence of Nigeria, thus highlighting interfaith dialogue as tool to remedy the identified challenges.
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It encouraged people to understand the dynamics of different faiths, which would brings about respectful coexistence with those with different faith, customs, and worldviews are different.
Co-chairmen of IDFP, Bishop Sunday Onuoha and Kunle Sanni, respectively, told journalists at a joint press conference in Abuja, on Tuesday, that only love, tolerance and unity among different faiths in Nigeria will guarantee the expected socioeconomic growth and development of Nigeria.
They said: “When people of different faiths come to a mutual understanding, they would respect, live and cooperate with each other in spite of their differences; hence the key to a productive democracy is to encourage interfaith communication.”
They confirmed that plans are underway for a meeting with various aspirants for different political offices, to educate and enlightened them on the need to trade with caution and abide by the rules and regulations of the engagements, in order to protect the fragility of Nigeria’s democracy.
They said: “There’s urgent need for all hands to be on deck to ensure we salvage Nigeria from the myriad of these challenges occasioned by conflicts, insecurity, poverty and divisions confronting us in this country. We need a secured and stabilized country to make meaningful progress, and to provide a better and safe space for all her citizens.
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“Contrary to the wrong notion, interfaith dialogue does not aim at changing other people’s religions or faiths. Rather, it seeks to find common ground between adherents of religions, by focusing on communities, and, through harmonious and peaceful interactions find solutions to many of our common problems.
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“Interfaith dialogue has the potential to unlock the power of religious traditions and provide the inspiration, guidance and validation necessary for people to move towards non-violent means of conflict resolution.
“We are hopeful that in the spirit of interfaith harmony and peaceful coexistence, we can use dialogue as a way forward to resolve some of the issues that are confronting us as a nation. As members of IDFP, we can play a pivotal role in promoting justice and tolerance in the society.
“As faith-based network, we are working towards ensuring that peace prevails in Nigeria, and we call on citizens to ensure that they vote for aspirants on the basis of credibility and competence, so that, collectively, we can change the tides of the ways politics have been played in the past, and help produce leaders that are people-centered that would help to bring back the glory of the nation.
“We would like to further advocate the culture of transparent and inclusive communication between people from different religions, beliefs and cultures to enhance social cohesion, while calling on the youths to engage in politics without violence.
“We are committed to ensuring that as faith group working to foster peace, we encourage more of religious teachings and beliefs as they affect the values, actions, and choices of citizens,” IDFP co-chairmen said.
Co-chairmen of IDFP and other officials during the press conference in Abuja