The National Inter- Faith and Religious Organizations for Peace (NIFROP) has rallied together civil society organizations, NGOs, FBOs etc to sign a pact for national cohesion, unity, peace and stability tagged: ‘Abuja Accord’ to win the war against religious and ethnic bigotry in our national life .
The peace treaty was signed on Thursday after a two-day International Conference held at Abuja .
The groups in a communique issued at the end of the programme, urged Nigerians to eschew ethno-religious sentiments and resolve to embrace national cohesion, stability, peace and unity as articulated by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The combined groups mutually reached and endorsed the following resolutions:
It congratulated the President Muhammadu Buhari for supervising the conduct of a successful, free, fair and credible 2019 general elections. He was applauded for disabling the plots and exiting the fears of Nigerians over a possible disruption of 2019 general elections and, seamlessly dislodging the potent phobia of electoral violence during and after the ballots.
We also commend and congratulate the masses of Nigeria for their steadfastness in Nigeria’s democracy and peaceful conduct throughout the duration and segments of the 2019 general elections.
The parley noted with great delight the slight improvement in voter-turnout, expressed in the enthusiasm of Nigerians to vote leaders of their choice at various levels. It is surely, a step towards dismantling the leech of voter-apathy in the democratic process and urged all Nigerians to intensify efforts to finally bury the ghost of electoral apathy.
The meeting resolved that the President Buhari-led Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) today has demonstrated a clear direction and focus on national re-engineering and recovery of Nigeria in the spheres of social revival, economic prosperity, security and anti-corruption sub-sectors. This deserves encouragement and espousal by all compatriots for him to go the proverbial extra mile.
The Group noted the abundant evidences in the determination and commitment of the present government in its drive for peace, unity, the indissolubility and indivisibility of Nigeria, by fostering dialogue for national cohesion on thorny issues like ethno-religious tolerance and peaceful co-existence among Nigerians of different ethno-religious and political persuasions.
The parley noted with excitement the indelible imprints of the Buhari Presidency in hitherto neglected areas such as his ardent pursuit of food security and diversification of the economy through the promotion of mechanized agriculture and the soft loans to Nigerian farmers to boost robust agricultural engagements all over the county.
The Groups pinpointed to Nigeria’s enlivened redemption journey with the revival of the railways transport; upgrade of national power generation and distribution from 2,300 megawatts of national grid in May 2015 to over 7,100 megawatts by end of 2018. We implored Mr. President to sustain these remedial actions.
The increment in workers’ salaries with the President signing a New Minimum Wage Bill a fortnight ago and the expanding windows of the Social Investment Program (SIP) and the popular N-Power Jobs among many other similar schemes for the poorest of poor Nigerians are silent strategies of the administration in redistributing the country’s commonwealth, to majority of less privileged Nigerians, hitherto hijacked and concentrated in the hands of a few ruling elites.
The Abuja Accord also resolved that for Nigeria as a nation, it is incumbent on her citizens to necessarily embrace the new breeze of “Change,” as spearheaded by President Buhari. Nigerians are invited to boldly make a statement to the entire world by supporting initiatives, policies and programmes which lubricate this “Change,” as it is clear the FGN alone cannot make the desired impact. The cooperation and support of the citizenry is indispensable.
Therefore, Nigerians are challenged to imbibe new thoughts, values, perceptions and interpretations of national issues detached from personal proclivities or mundane contemplations. National interest should henceforth, be elevated above clannish or sectional interests.
To this end, all Nigerians, old or young are prodded to consciously work in the direction of assisting the central and various state governments in implanting a boisterous agenda of national cohesion, stability, peace and unity in all nooks and crannies of Nigeria.
These are only the firm pillars of a prosperous and burgeoning Nigeria. We cannot wish otherwise because these are the tripods that will foster rapid growth and development; whilst we de-emphasize pushy ethnic and religious sentiments, with the personal idiosyncratic approach to national issues. We are first of all, Nigerians before members of any community in the country.
Consequently, the Abuja Accord intensely and strongly condemned the resurgence of violence and killings in some parts of the country for whatever reasons. No nation attains its height of progress through such beastly manifestations.
It appreciated the inevitability of disputes or disagreements among people and communities. But it advocated for dialogue and amicable settlement as better, decent and more respectful weapon to adopt when such disagreements erupts or in conflict situations. It confers dignity on the feuding parties and the image of the country.
We pray for the souls of our brothers and sisters who have lost their lives in these unfortunate and senseless crises to rest in the bosom of Almighty God. We also wish the wounded quick recovery from their injuries, as we collectively pray for a cessation of the crises and against its resurgence anywhere in the country.
The Abuja Accord found it expedient to call on leaders of Nigeria at the lower rung; whether political, traditional or religious to be more circumspect in their utterances and actions on potentially explosive national issues. They have a moral obligation to support the Buhari Presidency on its path of Nigerian redemption.
Abuja parley extremely frowned at recent comments from religious and traditional leaders which infused ethno-religious sentiments in the lobbying for the constitution of President Buhari’s next cabinet and the emergence of the leadership of the 9th National Assembly (NASS).
The unhealthy informal debate between the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA). The two apex religious bodies in Nigeria seem at daggers drawn on a Christian or Muslim Senate President or Speaker of the House of Representatives, much against the trumpeted dictum of the new order of #NextLevel in Nigeria.
The Abuja Conference expressed extreme displeasure at voicing such sentiments on a Christian or Muslim President of the Senate or Speaker of the House of Representatives as a descent into the retrogressive past, which Nigerians are unwilling to romance or accommodate today in any nuance.
It was resolved that all religious leaders in the country should humbly and respectfully abstain from public partisan comments or leadership recommendations on the basis of religion.
Also, the Abuja Accord endorsed the resolution to humbly inform these religious leaders that it is against the spirit of inter-faith and religious harmony and national cohesion among Nigerians to display such abhorrent postures.
More so, as such recommendations are not the direct business of religious leaders, whose recognizable and godly duty is to pray fervently for the emergence of good leaders in the country. They should be concerned more about good leaders who would promote the idea of one Nigeria, as against the subsisting irrational segregation on religious fault lines.
Furthermore, the Abuja Accord also reached a resolution that all ethnic warlords and bigots who have identified the consistent castigation of security agencies as failing in taming insecurity in the country as their only noble duty to give peace a chance. They are counseled to allow security agents do their jobs undistracted by the often influenced dishonest views they propagate to the disservice of Nigeria.
It was acknowledged that traditional rulers and ethnic champions have greater roles to play in quelling crises in their respective domains than mere open rebuke of heads of security agencies over perceived wrongs. The penchant of traditional/ethnic leaders in constant interference with the governance process is also detestable and should be discarded.
And where there are genuine concerns about lapses in the operation of security agencies, these traditional leaders have the onerous responsibility to approach the heads of the security agency concerned to raise his observations and recommendations in a manner that confers dignity on all parties.
Such platforms will not erode the confidence of Nigerians in the job of these security agencies and oddly, ennoble the ethnic warmongers with a false sense of triumph over the Nigerian state as currently obtained. When leaders are disposed to national issues, especially on security in this porous manner, it does not lay the template for building the virile and great nation of our dreams.
Going forward, the Abuja Accord has resolved that President Buhari must necessarily serve Nigerians an all-round hard working cabinet as he takes the oath of office for his second term on May 29, 2019.
Mr. President is encouraged to search deeply and far to engage members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) who are competent, resourceful and committed to his “Change” and #NextLevel” mantra to assist him accomplish his wonderful dreams for Nigeria in the remaining four years.
Therefore, the Groups resolved to impress it on President Buhari to constitute his 2019 cabinet that will only work for Nigeria and not for an ethnic group or religion or section of the country.
The President should disregard ethnicity or religion in the consideration of the formation of his 2019 cabinet. He should shut his doors and ears to all ethnic and religious lobbyists and appoint competent Nigerian men and women, on merit to help him pilot the affairs of the nation.
The President was also advised to apply the same yardstick in the constitution of chairmen and members of boards of federal agencies and parastaltals, which are the major support pillars to ministries in execution of government policies, programmes and projects. This Group is insistent that Nigeria should come first, as against any ethnicity or religion.
Abuja Accord observed with dismay the shameful outings of some MDAs in the preceding years who returned unspent budgetary votes amounting to hundreds of billions of naira to government coffers at the end of fiscal years. This ugly scenario occurred even in MDAs covering sectors with severe developmental challenges; but whose heads were barren of initiatives to utilize the funds released to them to better the wellbeing of Nigerians.
The President must be aware that the years 2019-2023 are the periods of fresh renewed hope as argued by Nigerians with his second mandate. And it behooves on him to shake-off all ungodly and distracting influences to redeem Nigeria from the clutches of people and sentiments which have tethered the country to the strings of servitude for decades.