by Isi Esene
President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday maintained that most of the religious tensions in the country were politically motivated.
He said this at the launching of Faith Foundation-led programme to encourage religious reconciliation between Christians organised by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.
In a speech delivered on his behalf by the minister for housing and urban development, Ama Pepple, Jonathan said:
“Inter –religious dialogue is already playing an important role in our society. The Federal Government continues to promote religious harmony by constantly engaging the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council, jointly chaired by the President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Sultan of Sokoto.
“While progress on this front is satisfactory, it must be pointed out that some of the religious tensions in the country are politically motivated. We must now use both platforms to call on all believers to reject religiously anchored violence, advance tolerance, and promote mutual understanding.
“The president also emphasizes the imperatives of dialogue as part of efforts to create peace and advance development.”
In his remark, Tony Blair, the former UK prime minister said, “My foundation and I are deeply committed to addressing the challenges of religious reconciliation in Nigeria.
“Understanding and respecting different faiths is central to securing sustainable peace, particularly where those who seek to misuse religion for violent ends aim to destroy it.”
He reportedly said that the foundation would be working with the Archbishop of Canterbury Designate, Bishop Justin Welby, towards healing the rifts and divisions amongst faiths in Nigeria in order to bring unity and peaceful co-existence to the Nigerian people.
The president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Ayo Oritsejafor, and the Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar Sa’ad, were at the event.