Former head of state General Yakubu Gowon has admonished members of the Jama’atul Ahlil Sunna Lidda’awati wal Jihad, otherwise known as Boko Haram, and other restive groups in the country to let peace reign by laying down their arms.
Gowon, who chaired the opening session of a three-day international conference on Islam, peace-building and political engagement held yesterday at Bayero University, Kano, said ensuring peace is a collective responsibility.
He described the conference as “a courageous, noble and commendable effort that deserves my full support and that of all well-meaning Nigerians. I therefore call on all Nigerians and groups, Boko Haram inclusive, to give peace a chance.
The former head of state who lamented degenerating level of insecurity and religious intolerance especially in the northern part of the country, said there would not be peace except if all stakeholders have resolved to tackle the problem collectively.
He tongue-lashed the Nigerian elite for what he called “conspiracy of silence” in the face of pervading insecurity militating peaceful coexistence and economic growth.
“The search for sustainable peace has remained man’s greatest challenge. It is so whether it is peace within one’s heart, peace with one’s neigbour or peace with one’s maker,” he said.
Gowon noted that peace is the central message of all religions adding: “No wonder then Islam prides itself as religion of peace whilst Christianity avows love.”
In his keynote address, Sheikh Ahmad Lemu emphasized the need for adherents of all religions to retrace to various literatures about their respective religions in order to practice the religions according to divine dictates.
He lamented that ignorance and misrepresentation of religion largely by what he called “unknowledgeable so-called Muslim scholars” have been the ambers that fuel discrimination and religious disharmony.
Lemu explained that, though tribalism is innate in all human beings, it should be regulated by the spirit of God consciousness and accountability before God in the hereafter as well as the spirit of justice among all mankind.