A social critic and member of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Barrister Solomon Dalong, has accused Muslim and Christian religious leaders for fanning the embers of crises that have continued to bedevil the North for such a long time.
Speaking at a conference organised for youths in the North-east Saturday in Gombe by Structural Integration Movement on Unity, Nationality in Diversity (SIGMUND CUREVE), Dalong said these religious leaders have continued to use their positions to fan the spirit of discord between the peaceful northern people.
He challenged the youths to stand up and say no to such gimmicks, saying “The youth in this country, especially those in the North need to be enlightened to avoid being used by selfish and unpatriotic political and religious leaders for their selfish ends.”
He added: “We should respect one another and that is the only panacea to peace in this great country Nigeria”.
Speaking earlier in a paper titled, ‘Realising the Nigeria Dream through Religious Line’, Mr. Jonathan Adamu Sambo, said Nigerians must learn to live in harmony with one another.
He stressed that “both Christians and Muslims of the North have irretrievably crossed each others’ path even when they are intertwined and interdependent to such an extent that no one group can wish the other away.”
He said if there is fire in the North, the underlying consequence is that nobody on the path of that fire will be spared.
According to him, “While those who prod us on continue to use religion in order to divide us for their own political ends, the North, where we the northern Christians and Muslims live, has always been at the receiving end of underdevelopment, unemployment, abject poverty, illiteracy, misery, despondency, squalor and disease.
“The North is the poorest of all the regions in the country.
“Our population continues to grow astronomically without any effort at strengthening the institutions that would provide succour to the burgeoning unskilled and uneducated population expansion,” adding that “all these calamities are facts that are increasingly becoming our lot.”
He said religion is supposed to be the vehicle of social justice and a bridge but not a barrier to social unity.
“It is unfortunate today that most Nigerian politicians have misunderstood or misinterpreted the basic meaning of religion in as much as they are trying to polarise the country through religious line. We the North-eastern Christian youths of Nigeria say NO to such gimmicks,” he said.
On his part, a representative of the National Council of Muslim Youth (NACOMYO), Mohammed Buhari, said Nigerians must learn to live in peace with one another as the best way to forge ahead.
According to him, “Since God has destined us to be in one country, we should appreciate this and live as one big family without discrimination,” he said.
In his remarks, the Gombe State Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Reverend Abare Kallah, cautioned religious leaders to be careful in their sermons, saying “we have been calling on people especially the youths not to allow themselves to be used by politicians to cause trouble in this country,” adding, “We in Gombe are used to being together with one another in peace and harmony.”