Minister harps on tolerance as ingredient in nation building
A sensitization programme on peaceful co-existence among communities in Nigeria has ended in Owerri, the Imo State capital. The programme which was organized by the Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation as part of the Federal Government’s efforts to foster peaceful co-existence among various tribes and religions in Nigeria, held at Links Hotel, Owerri, Monday, July 22, 2013.
The event witnessed notable dignitaries from the Federal and State Ministries of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation. Chief Edem Duke, the Honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation (TCNO), was ably represented by Daniel Tufato, Director, National Orientation, Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation.
The event featured a keynote address delivered by the Hon. Minister, paper presentations and a short drama sketch by some youth corpers serving in Owerri.
Delivering his paper, titled: Peace Education as a Panacea for Rising Ethno-Religious Conflict in Nigeria, Rev. Fr. Dr. Innocent M. Osuagwu, a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Owerri, described the programme as a National Summit. He used the forum to advise every Nigerian to develop what he called a culture of peace. This culture of peace, he said, will inspire and activate various Nigerian ethnic nationalities and religions to acquire the necessary knowledge and disposition of what to do and how to make peace in order to live well with others.
Fr. Osuagwu warned that to achieve the dreams of the heroes past, Nigerians must make the fundamental decision of eschewing violence. He reminded leaders whom he said in their quest for selfish interest, continue to fan the embers of hatred and bigotry, that peace in society is not commiserate with peace they can guarantee among their mercenaries. The clergyman therefore concluded like St. Francis of Assisi by praying that God would make every Nigerian become an instrument of peace, where hatred, rancor and acrimony would be dispelled.
Following up in the lecture series was Prof. Chinedum Nwajiuba, Dean, Post Graduate Studies, IMSU, who dwelt on the topic: The Importance of Building Harmony and Understanding in a Culturally Diverse Nation such as Nigeria. He noted that the “present day Nigeria is resting on a deplorable foundation”. This foundation, according to the academic guru was laid under tribalistic sentiments. Just like Fr. Osuagwu, Prof. Nwajiuba also identified weak and poor quality leadership as factors militating against peace, unity and national development. Yet, he did not shield the ordinary Nigerian from the national setbacks. He opined that for a meaningful development to be achieved in any society, proactive measures especially from the common citizens are as paramount as they are irrefutable. He stressed that these measures would act as a catalyst in checkmating the excesses of the ruling class.
Earlier in his keynote address, the Honourable Minister averred that tolerance and mutual understanding are veritable ingredients in nation building. He maintained that building a society where every Nigerian would be identified and respected requires the co-operation of all. He therefore admonished all, especially leaders and some other individuals and groups whom he said have taken some undue advantage of the ethno-religious differences in Nigeria to unleash violence and terror to sheathe their swords and embrace dialogue for peace to reign.
Others at the event included Vitus O. Ekeocha, Director, National Orientation Agency, Imo State, HRH Eze Sam Ihekwoaba of Ihitte Ogada Owerri North LGA, Dike Smart C. (SP), Nigeria Prisons Service Owerri and a host of other representatives from the secular society including traditional rulers and religious leaders.