Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Secretary-General, Anglican Communion Worldwide and Chairman, Kaduna State Peace Commission, Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, has said that there is so much hatred, anger and fear among citizens of Kaduna state due to ignorance fuelled by their segregation along religious and ethnic lines.
He noted that such mutual suspicion makes the people disagree on common issues that do not necessarily need to bring about violence.
Bishop Idowu-Fearon, while addressing the joint graduation ceremony for certificate and diploma graduands of Kaduna Center for the Study of Christian – Muslim Relations in Kaduna at the weekend, said: “There is so much hatred in Kaduna State; we so hate one another. That is why we are not making much progress.”
He called for more opportunities for citizens of different ethnicity and religions to meet and discuss.
He said although education is a powerful tool to change the world and a premise to progress, “but we also know that education is a lengthy and ongoing process. It does not happen overnight. It requires commitment, investment, sustainability and cooperation.
“Ignorance and all that comes with it – anger, fear, hatred, and conflict – happens because we separate ourselves from those that we disagree with and from the ‘other.’ We might do this out of concern for ourselves – that if we are seen to be speaking with someone who is the ‘other’ that it will damage our reputation with our own communities. But this also happens because of fear and sometimes hatred.
“These are things that we must also work against. And we must resist this temptation to separate ourselves from those who are different and with who we disagree. We must engage in activities together. It is not enough to simply have knowledge and understanding in your head. You must also practise what you learn. Religious leaders can set a good example by engaging in activities with leaders from the ‘other’ religions.
“These examples must be encouraged at all levels, from the top down to children in schools. There is much to do, and education alone cannot solve our problems. But where we see progress, we find encouragement. We have made progress here in this centre since it was founded 15 years ago. Many people have left this place transformed, committed to making progress and to being peace- builders for our communities.
“Let us hope and pray that in another 15 years, what is taught here is common in our schools, colleges and universities. That we all know much more about the ‘other’ and that we engage together much more. This graduation is a powerful image of progress and one that we can all be inspired by,” he said.
Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, who was represented by his Deputy, Dr Hadiza Balarabe, in his remarks, said that although the state had witnessed many crises due to differences but there was a policy guideline in place on the interpretation of religion, adding that teaching and propagating the message through the right channel would reduce the challenges.
For former Governor of Kaduna State and former caretaker chairman of People’s Democratic Party, Sen. Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, said peace is vital and a key denominator to everybody. He urged the graduands to practise what they learnt to contribute to peaceful coexistence in the country and show that they value what they learnt.
The Vice Chairman of Kaduna State Peace Commission, Mrs Priscilla Ankut, said the commission was established to promote peaceful and harmonious co-existence in Kaduna State. “The subjects that have been taught to these graduands are badly needed to strengthen the relationship between Muslims and Christians. We believe that building bridges deepens understanding of the other side’s issues. There cannot be peace without working for peace.”
During the joint graduation ceremony, 40 graduates were awarded certificates, with 15 of them bagging diplomas. Twenty-one old diploma graduates of class 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 were also given their certificates.