President Muhammadu Buhari and the government of Nigeria have thanked members of the United Kingdom All-Party Parliamentary Group on International Religious Freedom or Belief for their report, launched a few days ago.
A statement by presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, said it was difficult to read even as it acknowledged the importance of accurate, unbiased, depoliticised and truthful information when it comes to understanding the realities and addressing the challenges for those of faith in Nigeria.
“In this regard when uncritical attention is afforded to critics with dubious intentions, it only becomes harder for both the government and people of Nigeria to engage in constructive dialogue to resolve our differences, and uphold what is enshrined in our Constitution and Laws that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion,” it said.
The statement stressed it is clear for all to see that there have, for generations in Nigeria, been tensions between the major religions, Christianity and Islam – and between herders and farmers – both for access to ever-decreasing arable and farmland due to a rapidly rising population, temperatures and desertification through global warming.
Exacerbating those tensions, it pointed out that Nigeria, has also been in recent times and focused within the northern states, subject to vicious and criminal attacks by the terror group Boko Haram.
The statement read in part: “In concert with our American and British allies, Nigeria’s military have pushed back the terrorists and largely reduced their capacity over the last five years compared to the previous decade.
“Boko Haram targeted Christians and churches specifically because they know it drives forward religious and land tensions already existent in the country. Similarly, they attack mosques and Muslims in order to issue the threat: radicalise, or become targets yourselves.
“In the months and years ahead, our president who is Muslim and our vice president who is an evangelical Christian pastor are irrevocably committed to addressing these multiple and long-term challenges for today’s and future generations.”
It further listed the challenges to include continuing and increasing Nigeria’s efforts alongside our allies to fully defeat and finally finish Boko Haram, in order to bring security to the northern part of the country.