Polls: Religious leaders urge politicians to dismantle structures of violence



By Bridget Ikyado

The Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace (IDPF) has urged political parties and their candidates to dismantle all structures that entrench electoral violence.

The Co-Chairmen of the forum, Bishop Sunday Onuoha and Alhaji Kunle Sanni -Ishaq, made the call during the Forum’s 5th General Assembly, on Wednesday in Abuja.

They noted that the country was already faced with lots of issues threatening peaceful coexistence, as such political actors must embrace peace.

Onuoha particularly urged Nigerians to save the country from all forms of crisis by stopping the spread of division and focusing on promoting unity and peace.

“Unity, peace and love is all we need in this election season for the overall development of the country,’’ he added.

On his part Sanni-Ishaq said Nigerians should eschew violence, discrimination and hatred and play politics without bitterness.

According to him, achieving true peace entails much more than mere speculations on what needs to be done to change the situation around insecurity and hate speeches.

“True peace requires building a nation where all citizens feel they can flourish and are free to live harmoniously,’’ he said.

Mr Agustin Nunez-Vicandi of the KAICIID Dialogue Centre, said the forum should continue to push for free and fair elections, and work to increase confidence in Nigeria’s political system.

He said religious leaders should work to alleviate and heal the fragmentation in the country and build peaceful coexistence among all citizens.

In a paper, Most Rev. Benebo Fubara-Manuel said ethnic and religious issues were part of the lives of Nigerians.

“They define our identity but should not cause us to live in conflict with one another.

“As people of faith, we are to ensure that we do all we can to safeguard the 2023 elections taking seriously the principles of empowerment, prevention, proportionality, protection, partnership and accountability.’’

In another paper, Dr Saidu Ahmed-Dukawa of Bayero University Kano said Nigerians should exploit the positivity in the country’s religious and ethnic diversity.

He said individuals, groups and institutions need to do the needful in order to safeguard the forthcoming elections.

The Sultan of Sokoto, Dr Sa`ad Abubakar urged Nigerians to work hard to achieve sustainable peace in the country.

The Sultan, who is the Grand Patron of the Forum, said Nigerians must collectively work for peace, security and unity of the country.

“We should support movements towards unity in diversity everywhere in our country as peace ambassadors.

“We call on the people of Nigeria and State Actors to work hard to achieve sustainable peace among the citizens in Nigeria,’’ he added.

Abubakar, who was represented by Haruna Zubairu, Director Administration, Nigeria Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, also advised Nigerians to conduct themselves with decorum during forthcoming elections.

The Spanish Ambassador to Nigeria, Amb. Juan Ignatius advised Nigerians to lead by example and conduct themselves well during the elections.

“We all have a role to play in fostering peace and tackling ethnic and religious intolerance,” he said.

Various stakeholders called for peaceful elections in the country.