Nigeria’s Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan has spoken out against elements of Nigerian society bent on fanning the flames of religious discord in his country.
On 28 April, Cardinal Onaiyekan himself survived an attempt on his life while travelling on the Benin-Uromi road in Nigeria. Gunmen shot at his vehicle. No one was hurt in the incident. Nevertheless, the bullets shattered the passenger window glass and made huge holes on the panel of the door.
Speaking in the wake of recent massacres attributed to Fulani herdsmen in the southeast of Nigeria, the Cardinal was quoted by Agenzia Fides calling on Moslems and Christians not succumb to those inciting hatred.
"There is a terrible wind blowing around our country right now. There are so many people who are fanning the flames of discord and hatred, and it is becoming very difficult to preach unity and mutual natural love and there are those who are already envisaging a clash between Christians and Muslims".
Cardinal Onaiyekan continued, "There are those who are interpreting the conflict between herdsmen and farmers as the front line of this battle. Some are sharpening their cutlasses getting ready for the big battle," he said.
The Cardinal pointed out that, "One of the primary duties of government is to ensure the security of life and property of all Nigerians which means that when you have any group of people, whether they are herdsmen or kidnappers, or armed robbers, the government should devise ways of effectively ‘check-mating’ them."
Nevertheless, the Cardinal was optimistic about the fact that not all Nigerians were determined to kill their fellow countrymen.
"Thanks be to God,” he remarked, “there are many Nigerians who believe that we are not doomed to kill one another and that there is hope for us to live together as fellow Nigerians."
Cardinal Onaiyekan also said he was proud to be a Nigerian.
"I will go all over the world boasting of this, telling them that in Nigeria, we have not less than 80 million Christians, 80 million Muslims, living side by side, day by day at every level of our lives."
The Cardinal reminded Nigerians that common evils such as Ebola or corruption, affect without distinction all Nigerians.
"We all suffer because of corruption; we have a common task to insist on a good government, to insist also on honesty in government. To do this we must come together and fix our common and shared challenges," the Cardinal emphasised. (Source: Agenzia Fides)
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