It is funny that President Recep Erdogan of Turkey has continued to play on our collective intellect as a nation by continuing to cheaply sound like a broken record. Anytime he has opportunity to speak or meet with President Muhammadu Buhari, he deploys almost the entire time lobbying for the Nigerian President to clamp down on his (Erdogan’s) political enemies, who he has wickedly and unjustly been describing as terrorists or, in his words, a so-called Fethhullah Terrorists Organisation.
What the Turkish President keeps forgetting is that he who wears the shoes knows where it pinches. The Hizmet Movement that President Erdogan keeps falsely branding as terrorists has been living with us in Nigeria for ages. Our intelligence services have done all kinds of checks on them. If they were criminals, not to talk of terrorists, it would have been detected by now. Millions of Nigerians who have continued to draw huge benefits from the humanitarian activities of these advocates of peace attest to their excellence of character.
The first time in my life that I had the privilege of meeting a large assemblage of who is who in Christendom in Nigeria was in 2012 when I attended the first interfaith dinner/breaking of fast, hosted by Ufuk Dialogue Foundation in Abuja. Ufuk is an offshoot of the Hizmet Movement in Nigeria.
From that year up to 2019, and obviously for many years to come, the group, which has as its central theme the need to “reserve in your heart a seat for everyone”, has been hosting such gathering of Islamic and Christian leaders and commoners, placing them under the same roof, and providing the convivial atmosphere that makes for deep religious differences to be understood and resolved.
The principal goal of Ufuk Dialogue Foundation is the promotion of peace in the world, and encouraging harmonious co-existence of the adherents of different faiths, cultures, ethnicity and races.
The foundation has been at the forefront in the promotion of education, exchange of information, opinion and expertise. It organizes conferences, seminars, panel discussions, projects, scholarships, publications, meetings, trips, and several other noble activities.
Ufuk promotes peace, friendship and compassion, and the entrenchment of human dignity by practicing the virtues in their everyday life. Ufuk Dialogue envisions a community in which people from all walks of life interact with each other and cooperate to serve their communities, thereby strengthening civil society and promoting the development of human values.
At the forefront of its activities is the fight against terrorism. All its principal officers, even more so Mr. Kamil Kemanci, its president, are proponents of peace. They believe that the fight against terrorism can be achieved through dialogue, peace initiatives and conflict resolutions rather than illegitimate armed struggles that has caused devastation and lack of hope for the future of the young generation.
Kemanci always emphasizes that the individual who is conscious of divine creation is a hero of affection because he is concerned about every existence and has mutual respect and understanding for one another.
I dare say that no group in Nigeria today commands the respect and admiration of Christian and Muslim leaders as Ufuk Dialogue Foundation. Government should therefore partner with this important group to attain deeper peace among the component parts that make up the Nigerian Federation.
Many groups have on several occasions recommended for this peaceful group to spearhead dialogue in Nigeria. Some may wonder why the group is being recommended when it is Turkish in nature. But then Ufuk Dialogue was founded in Abuja in 2011, and its members include Nigerians who have been doing very well in advancing the cause of the country, from time immemorial.
The group is also an offshoot of the Hizmet Movement, a global group committed to peace and excellence, founded decades ago by the foremost global peace icon, Fethullah Gulen.
The reality is that most problems besetting Nigeria at the moment have tribal or religious coloration. With investments worth billions of naira in education, healthcare, and other critical sectors of the Nigerian economy, and with its members deepening our nationalism and entrenching love, peace and forgiveness by their very examples, Ufuk is the one group government can use to heal our wounds and unite the country.
Nigerians appreciate and love these peaceful advocates and a million Erdogans will never allow us change this perspective.