Kogi State governor Yahaya Bello was yesterday joined by president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev Supo Ayokunle to perform the groundbreaking ceremony for the building of a chapel for Christians at the Kogi State Government House, Lokoja.
The governor said one of his major aspirations when he came to office in 2016 was to foster inter-religious harmony among adherents of Islam and Christianity in the state.
Speaking at the occasion, Bello noted that the construction of the chapel which was the first in the history of the state, was not just to serve as a house of worship for Christians but to also be a “symbol of the access, welcome and inclusion which we have worked to guarantee all citizens in our public institutions.”
He recalled that during the course of his campaign in 2015, he observed the absence of chapel at the Government House and resolved to do something about it if given the opportunity to become governor of the state.
He said: “When I arrived here as governor by the peculiar deeds of God, the construction of a place of worship for Christians inside the premises of the Kogi State Government House became a personal aspiration of mine.
“We must understand that in Kogi State, strong components of Islam and Christianity have lived side by side since pre-colonial times and have cooperated in every area of life and endeavour.
“I believe that it is vitally critical for our seat of power to also make a symbolic statement of welcome for adherents of the two major faiths. Thus, I found it sad that for no reason other than, perhaps, the personal wishes of my predecessors in Office, Government House, Lokoja has no custom-built place of worship for Christians”, he said.
Also speaking on the occasion, CAN president, Rev Supo Ayokunle commended the governor for the initiative which he noted would go a long way in fostering interreligious harmony and peaceful coexistence amongst adherents of the two faiths.
He urged the governor to continue to do more in ensuring adequate security of lives and property of citizens of the state.