Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
As the world commences the celebration of International Interfaith Week and Harmony, a team of religious clerics of Muslims and Christians, headed by Pastor Yohanna Buru, has taken a campaign to Niggers Rehabilitation and Skilled Acquisition Centre located at Rigasa, Kaduna, North-western Nigeria.
The essence of the visit is aimed at sensitizing inmate on the dangers of drug abuse and various ways to shun bad attitudes that violet the teachings of the holy books.
The clerics stressed importance of religious tolerance, peace and harmony among all human beings living in the universe.
Buru said, “Last year, we organized reading and written competition for the inmate to mark International Interfaith Week and Harmony, so as to encourage them to be fully committed in the studies of religious books, as a way to promote better understanding and religious tolerance among inmate that are staying in the centre.
According to the Christian cleric, “This year, we are focusing on teaching them ways to shun drug abuse and religious extremism, and better ways to live in peace and harmony, and also to educate them on the real teaching of the holy books, in other to enable them have the fear of God; as well as sensitizing them on the need for peaceful co-existence, tolerance and harmony amongst people, regardless of their religious inclinations, culture and tradition.
He said this is the 6th time they are organizing such a conference and event at the centre with inmate from different states across 36 states of Nigeria, which are mostly drug addicts and mentally-challenged persons, and people with other forms of deformities, “Which we believe will help them in living in peace and harmony with every inmate that is in the house.”
Buru said religious leaders could play a strong role in educating youth on various ways to counter violent extremism by promoting peace and tolerance through corrective interpretations of the teachings of the holy books.
“We must teach our youth what the Bible and Qur’an preaches, so as to promote peace and harmony, as well as to educate them on the dangers of religious extremism.”
He also added that religious preachers play a role in providing psycho-social support to some victims, while calling on religious leaders to preach the genuine teaching of their respective religions about peace to their followers.
Accordingly, he also suggested that the Nigerian press could play a big role towards averting religious violence and promoting national peace and stability order, while stressing the need for the promotion of inter-religious dialogue in Nigeria, which according to him, will therefore contribute a great deal in averting religious violence.
Buru concluded by saying that the problem of religious violence can also be tackled through poverty alleviation programmes and the involvement of religious clerics towards educating youth on real teachings of the holy books.
Leader of the centre, Mallam Lawal Maduru, expressed appreciation over the kind gestures, adding that it was indeed the 6th time they are organizing this type of meeting, which is aimed at raising awareness on the importance of tolerance among different faith-based organizations that are residing in the centre.
The centre has been there for over 14 years, and has been helping in transforming mentally-challenged and drugs-addicted youth to normal lives, only that it lacks financial support to carry out more awareness.
He said the centre has over 20 Christians, who perform their religious rites without any form of intimidation, considering the perception of people within the state; adding that, the centre has graduated over 1700 youth that came to the centre for rehabilitation and counseling.
“Majority of the inmates are young people, including women, who are affected mentally, drug addicts as well as some faced with spiritual challenges that need assistance. We give everyone here equal right and permit them to practice his/her religions without discrimination.”
It is recalled that International Interfaith Week and Harmony is usually celebrated on every first week of February.