Religious and community leaders have been urged to preach and promote ethno-religious tolerance and accommodate opposing views, as parts of the mechanisms of deepening peaceful co-existence and harmony in the country.
The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi, gave the admonition when the son of the Chief Justice of Saudi Arabia, Hisa Ibn Ali As-suhaemy, paid him a courtesy visit.
Oba Adeyemi said in Nigeria, intolerance of opposing views by adherents of the major world’s religions has heated the polity and caused tension.
“Instigation of hatred in the name of religious practice in religious organisations is a negative attitude. While it is true that both Christianity and Islam profess the slogan “Love your neighbour as yourself,” this is however observed more in the breach. This is a bad wind that blows no one any good. It is high time religious leaders preached the genuine gospel of friendship and sincere love. This is the vehicle that will take mankind to the abode of peace and security.
In addition, the Federal Government of Nigeria should take a step further by putting in place legislation that will criminalise the incitement to hatred by religious organizations or individual(s) in the country’’.
Oba Adeyemi who informed that the Yorubas were the first to accept Islam in the 15th century, about 6,000 years ago from Mali, stated that he was appointed in 1991 by the then Federal Government as AMIRRUL HAJJ who led all muslim pilgrims in the country to Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca.
The paramount ruler observed that ignorance is one source which has engendered abject poverty in the midst of abundant natural resources, coupled with the increasing high rate of youth unemployment.
He added that ‘’the level of ignorance is deepening. Owing to incessant close down of schools in Nigeria, the educational system is in a state of comatose; thereby denying the Nigerian students the opportunity of acquiring sound knowledge, moral rebirth and high level of discipline especially on different methods of peaceful settlement of disputes or conflicts’’.
Hence, Oba Adeyemi called on both government and the organized private sector to complement each other by improving the human capital development of Nigerians especially the youths and women. This is a sine qua non for the attainment of a progressive, just and peaceful society.
‘’Governments at all levels should rise above board, be non-partisan in its delivery of dividends of good governance and be seen as just in their relationship with their people. They (Governments at all levels) should avoid discrimination and marginalization of the people when dealing with developmental projects and religious matters in the country’’.
Alaafin recalled that his father, Adeniran, was the first traditional ruler in Yorubaland to construct a mosque for the town, known today as the Central Mosque, as well as for the palace.
Said he, ‘’my father allowed all religions to flourish without hindrance as he was highly principled, committed, resilient, visionary, pro-active, thorough, and staunch believer in social justice. Unfortunately, he was persecuted, intimidated, traumatized and victimized to death, for no just cause, but sheer hatred, by the then defunct action Group (AG) government led by the late Premier, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. He died a hero after spending 10 years on the throne’’.
Earlier, the visitor, accompanied by some Islamic clerics, said he was elated to be in the palace and meet one on one with the Alaafin, whose father he had heard and read much about.
In his comment through an interpretation, ‘’ I am indeed glad and count myself very lucky to be with the monarch whose reign is not only uniquely divined, but his contemporary will be difficult to find after his demise. He is a shining sun, while all other rulers are stars around him [Alaafin]. Moving closer to him is a gift of blessing and good fortunes. He [Alaafin] is absolutely endowed by Allah.