…Inter-Denominational Prayers highlight the dare need for forgiveness.
by Christiana Gokyo, Jos
The Catholic Archbishop of Jos, His Grace, Most Revd Matthew Ishaya Audu, has observed that, the failure of individuals and communities to forgive one another increases the burden of strife, bitterness, anger and violence, which ultimately provides the ready flame for crises.
He said Christ has demonstrated forgiveness by not only laying down his life for humanity, but admonishing his followers to do same and live in peace.
He made this assertion, while speaking at an Inter-denominational Church Service to commemorate the 3rd Plateau Day of Forgiveness and Reconciliation at the St Louis’ Catholic Church, Jos, on Sunday.
He said Plateau State is experiencing gradual healing and peaceful coexistence because of the efforts of the government to set the right examples and administer justice to all.
Speaking also at the event, Plateau state governor, Simon Bako Lalong, noted that unless Nigerians learn to forgive one another and avoid revenge and reprisals, the nation will continue to witness needless bloodshed and destruction of property.
According to him, “Although acts of criminality must be swiftly investigated and punished by government and its relevant organs, the long-term ambition of every Nigerian, who desires peace, is to toil the path of reconciliation and forgiveness.
“As a government, we are very conscious of the fact that the process of restoring peace and confidence among the people cannot succeed without forgiveness and reconciliation.
“On this day, therefore, we do not try to trivialize or gloss over the trauma, pain and agony that many people have undergone on account of the various crises that took lives and property. Others are still bearing physical scars of their experiences,” he stressed.
The governor reiterated that, “What this day rather emphasizes is how to make the best of the past ugly experiences and chart the way forward. If truly we want to move forward, then there is every need to encourage healing that makes us do things differently.
“The Plateau Peace Agency has held over 87 multi-level dialogue sessions with conflict parties across 17 local governments of the state, in order to promote the culture of peace through forgiveness and reconciliation.
“This has led to the signing of several Peace Agreements and Commitments to the pursuit of peace agreement with various fighting communities in the last five years,” he said.
He nevertheless frowned at the exploitation of the social media by ‘crises merchants,’ who generate and circulate unfounded posts suggesting that there is no peace in Plateau State and, that, this government has not achieved anything.
Also sounding his remarks at the occasion, chairman Christian Pilgrims Commission, Rev. Yakubu Pam, said “The Day for Forgiveness and Reconciliation is a great initiative by the government that celebrates the good of humanity rather than the embers of hatred, bigotry and mediocrity.”
In their own words, Plateau State Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Rev. Fr. Polycarp Lubo, Deputy Chief Imam of Jos Central Mosque, Sheikh Ismail Adam, and a representative of the Gbong-Gwom Jos all called on the citizens of the state and Nigerians in general to learn to embrace one another, in spite of differences in religion, ethnicity or status.
Prayers were offered for the perpetuation of peace and reconciliation in Plateau State and Nigeria.