Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has called for deliberate efforts to build bridges across religions and ethnicities to ensure a better society and nation.
Osinbajo made the call at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, when he received a delegation from US-based Bridgeway Community Church, in Washington DC, led by its founder and senior pastor, Dr. David Anderson, alongside a delegation from the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission led by its Executive Secretary, Dr. Sule Yakubu Bassi.
In building bridges, he emphasised on the need to build mutual trust and respect, stating that “we have to find ways of actively disseminating to our people here, and in Africa in particular, the importance of building bridges across religion and ethnicities.”
While noting that Nigeria is a country with different ethnicities and dominant Muslim and Christian population, with other religions in between, the vice president added: “It has become clear to us that we must find different ways in building bridges, especially between the faiths and ethnicities. And one of the critical things that our faith teaches, is that, regardless of what the situation may be, “we must love even our enemies and pray for them.
“The future for our society, in my view, relies on our ability to build bridges and to ensure that those bridges are firm and we can walk across it and interact with each other,” he said.
In his remarks, Anderson, who noted the need to build bridges among Africans and African-Americans said he was inspired to build a Diaspora Palace, hotel and resort in Badagry, Lagos, “so that when people come back from the Diaspora, wherever they are, they would no longer just come to the ‘Point of No Return,’ they would walk through the ‘Door of Return’ and that they would be accepted as royalty.”
Anderson observed that several African-Americans desire to be identified as Africans, and he was working with the Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission, Foreign Affairs and Information ministries to realise that through what he called the “Door of Return” initiative.
Similarly, Bassi, representing the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, noted that the “Door of Return” initiative, among other objectives, aims “to advance the exchange of economic cooperation and direct investment between Nigerian and the Diaspora, particularly in the areas of tourism and sustainable development.”