Full Text of Welcome address and Speech by the Convener of the Inter Faith Peace Dialogue 2018

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Let me start by First welcoming you and everyone to this years INTER FAITH PEACE DIALOGUE, where we bring members of Different religions in Nigeria to discuss the way forward for peace , there has been no greater tool for disunity , hatred, slavery and war than religion, and there is also no greater tool for Unity, peace, tolerance , and love than religion , this year’s edition is themed “ NATIONAL UNITY AND PEACE BUILDING BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER 2019 GENERAL ELECTIONS , THE ROLE OF RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS .

The Vision of the Inter Faith Peace dialogue was born out of the Desire for youths to take on the responsibility of uniting and maintaining peace in the nation through Dialogue and looking for solutions together.

The Idea is for us to focus more on the ideals that Unite us rather than those that divide us, to remind all of us that we are first human beings and we are 99% of the time didn’t choose the religion we currently practice because we were either born into it or forced into it by time , place and circumstances of our birth .

Religion was meant for man to seek means of communing with his creator and its message generally has been love, forgiveness and Tolerance this is why one of the world’s peace expert describes religion as a means to grow love for God , for self, for neighbours and for humanity but instead over time religion became corrupted and rather used as a tool for conquest, for colonisation and mass control, as you and I know Religion has become one of the major reasons for chaos , Brother Ishmael Tetteh writes
“Causes of Conflicts are The two institutions that have influenced the life of humanity, and respectively control man’s inner and outer worlds, are religion and politics.

Unfortunately from these two proceed the segregationist and factional ideologies that have variously created religious fanaticism, political fanaticism, racial discriminations, tribalism and other “isms” responsible for some of the major conflicts and wars in our world”.

This Conference is to once again call on the humanity in each of us, fanatism and sentiment is fast spreading across board like a very dangerous cancer and if we are not careful it would consume all of us, in the light of past history and recent events it is safe for us to agree that religion has done to humanity more harm than God, in the name of Jesus and Jehovah and of Muhammad and Allah we have committed atrocities, wiped out towns and villages forced conversions , and hated one another.

No one was born hating another, Nigerians use to be the most hospitable of people in the world and Nigeria as a country one of them most hospitable countries on earth but today it has become one of the unsafest places in the world according to recent world ratings . we cannot point fingers to cast blames but we must all feel responsible to a some extent and we must be ready to make proactive efforts, and conscious steps to making a better and more peaceful society.

We must begin to look and focus on those things that Unite us more than those aspects that divide us, we must begin to think in terms of us as Nigerians rather than as Muslims, Christians or Traditionalists, when we were in the womb we didn’t belong to all the dogmas of religion , our minds was a Tabula Rasa (Empty Mind) we grew up we learnt all the good the bad and the uglies as we grew up, we learnt who or what to love , we learnt what to believe and what not to believe in , our ideologies of what is wrong and right was what they told us and taught us . But as we grow up we learn to see with our own eyes, what is wrong and what is right. Have you asked yourself before What is the religion of each of the Elements (Air, Fire, Water and Earth) that gives you life?
Irrespective of our race creed or culture, we are all animated by the One Life that animates all this one life that Religion has choosed to call God, we are human beings and all religions agree that it was us that was created in God’s image and likeness, we must then strive to rise to this divine nature by cultivating God qualities of Love, Peace, tolerance , understanding and forgiveness, this is to have become a true child or servant of God

Let’s Celebrate Oneness and Unity in diversity.
Let us understand that until we all are consciously part of a peace process we will all not have peace, it is our collective responsibility as human beings , we should teach our children the need for peace and tolerance from an early age, we should not discriminate, we should try to abolish caste system, we should try to create a society where people font believe or think that a certain class, tribe or group is trying to permanently or perpetually rule over others, the ideals of fairness , equity and justice should always prevail.

I want to also use this medium to advice the federal Government of Nigeria to seek more dialogue in its approach with religious leaders it has issues with,the few that comes to mind is the El Zakzazy the Leader of the Shiite Muslims of Nigeria , we also advice that the federal government should seek dialogue with Tompolo who is also regarded and respected not just as a Ex agitator but also a Spiritual leader in African Traditional Spirituality of his Indigenous Ijaw Traditional Faith, religious Organizations like C.A.N and MURIC and others must seek ways of fostering the Humanity agenda , the one Nigeria for all Agenda than some religious supremacy agenda it is in seeking peace through dialogue that makes the people closer to the government , the value for human lives and respect for the rule of law, as this will contribute greatly to peace and stability in our beloved country Nigeria.

Once again I welcome every one here let the Dialogue begin.

-Ellington Bakumor
Convener
Inter Faith Peace Dialogue

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