…Nigeria needs religious tolerance – Deputy Senate President
By Gbenga Omokhunu, Abuja
Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon has expressed fears that Nigerian may go asunder if Nigerians don’t pray for President Muhammadu Buhari.
Gowon disclosed that there are people with sinister motives, who wouldn’t want peace to reign in the country.
Though, he acknowledged that Buhari is doing a lot, but the security challenges are still obvious in the country.
Gowon reemphasized that if Nigeria’s territorial integrity is undermined, Somalia will be a child’s play, warning that no one should be allowed to toil with the unity of the country.
He spoke in Abuja at the thanksgiving service and reception organized by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in honour of the newly appointed Executive Secretary, Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission (NCPC), Rev. Yakubu Pam.
Gowon who was represented by the Minister of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume said: “Yakubu Pam has been sufficiently prepared by God to serve his people. I can testify to the fact that who the cap fits let him wear it. This commission is crucial and sensitive as one of the agencies of government.
“You are coming into the office at a time that we have very serious security challenges. We have made a lot of efforts to solve these problems along with people of other religion. That is why virtually everybody supported you for this position. It is an opportunity for you to do even more to bring peace to our country.
“We need peace to succeed. I know President Muhammadu Buhari is doing a lot but the challenges are still there. There are people with sinister motives, who wouldn’t want peace. But through prayers, I appeal to CAN to continue to pray not only for Yakubu Pam but for the president and all of us, and for your dear country, so that Nigeria will not go asunder. I once made a comment that this country is too big and versed with a population of over 200 million.
“A scholar said that we are structurally complex and pluraly diverted. If our territorial integrity is undermined, Somalia will be a child’s play. We don’t have to toil with our unity. You are in a very good position working closely with CAN and people of other faith so that together we can reestablish peace, push forward our agenda for our territorial integrity, push forward for our oneness so that together supporting the president, we can take our country to the next level, we have the human and material resources to take Nigeria to the next level”.
Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege also said that Nigeria needs religious tolerance.
Omo- Agege urged the newly appointed NCPC boss, to be an agent of change and propagate tolerance and love among Nigerians.
His words: “Firstly, I saw in your appointment, yet another testimony of a well-rounded peg in a round hole which is a big credit to the administration of His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari. I say this with all sense of responsibility, given your passion for Christ, and your wealth of experience in shepherding the flock of the Lord.
“The second has to do with the need to sustain and improve intra-religious and inter-religious harmony among Nigerians for which you are well known, going by your records in your previous engagements in different positions as Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria of Northern Nigeria; Vice President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria and regional Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in 2016. In all these, you kept the faith as a bridge builder across Christian denominations and across religions”.
Omo- Agege said Pam is appointed at a time when Nigeria need to really espouse the tenets of the Christian Pilgrimage, stick to them and ensure that the spiritual rejuvenation and spiritual recharge which pilgrimages are meant to offer, are indeed reaped by all pilgrims.
He said: “I trust that you will bring your wealth of knowledge and experience in the teachings of Christ, to propagate tolerance and love in our country. As believers and disciples of Jesus Christ, we must follow his footsteps. We would want to see an order where visits to these grottos and sites evoke the passion of Christ and Christlikeness in those that visit them.
“The dividends of such evocation can only be imagined. It will be the spiritual force that will help take such pilgrims away from all forms of corruption both of the mind (where corruption actually begins from), and in their actions. It will help reduce violence of all manners, religious intolerance and brigandage.
“I am confident on your ability to raise the bar and improve the experience and outcome of Christian pilgrimage in Nigeria”.
CAN president, Rev. Samson Ayokunle urged the NCPC executive secretary to be courageous always and take the right steps no matter the situation.
Ayokunle advised him to always pray, adding that: “Entrenching good policies would be met with pockets of resistance. You must know however that you are the one to account to God about the running of the commission. Because of this, let no person intimidate when you are taking the right decision. The Lord encouraged Joshua to be strong and be of good courage. Joshua 1: 6-7, with courage as well, be ready to take risks but be led by the Spirit.
“People may hate you because you always stand for what is right but they can never deny your humility in service. Do not Lord it over those serving under you but gently and humbly carry them along in your leadership. Let them feel very important no matter how small the assignment you give to them may be. A humble leader would always appreciate the contributions of others. This appreciation is the reinforcement you would give them to do better in the subsequent assignment. Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. In your humble leadership, serve with your team and take good care of their welfare as Jesus did.”
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha urged Pam to perform with the fear of God in his new office.
Mustapha, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary on political affairs, assured him of full government support to succeed.
Minister of Women affairs, Pauline Tallen also called for peace in the country, adding that all President and his vice expect from CAN are prayers.
She advised the NCPC boss to raise up to the occasion and condemn violence, calling CAN president and all clergies to stand with President Muhammadu Buhari to condemn rape.
Former Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, also advised Pam not to disappoint God and the trust imposed in him by the people.
He assured that Rev, Yakubu Pam will lead with distinction.
The NCPC Executive Secretary, Rev. Yakubu Pam vowed not to disappoint President Muhammadu Buhari, the Christian community and the entire country in the discharge of his duties.
He assured not to be involved in any corrupt practices, adding that he will be fair to all.