As part of measures to ensure harmony between Christians and Islamists in Oyo State, the Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace (IDFP), on Tuesday, inaugurated an interfaith dialogue team in the State.
The inauguration, which was performed symbolically at the secretariats of the Muslim Community of Oyo State (MUSCOYS) and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Ibadan, was monitored by the state leaders of CAN and MUSCOYS, Apostle Joshua Akinyemiju and Alhaji Ishaq Kunle Sanni, as well as the Executive Secretary of the Muslim Ummah of South-West Nigeria (MUSWEN), Professor Muslih Yahya and other religious stakeholders.
The co-chairman of the Central Coordination Council of IDFP, Malam Muhammad Jameel Muhammad, said that the event marked the end of a “step-down training” for representatives of the two faiths, adding that the team would be working in collaboration with the state government and security agencies.
According to Malam Muhammad, the step-down training was started in 2019 following a fact-finding tour of some states that are prone to violence that have religious colouration.
“We realised that the causes of this violence, mostly, are not religious but conflict entrepreneurs wear them in religious garb so that violence can escalate fast because Nigerians are very religious and they take anything that is religious very seriously,” he said.
He said the team would be concerned with the observation of early warning signs of religious conflicts and responding to them adequately to mitigate religious conflicts before they happen.
The chairman of MUSCOYS, who doubles as the co-chairman of IDFP, Alhaji Kunle Sanni, said the idea behind the creation of the team was to create a synergy between Christians and Muslims in responding swiftly to acts capable of causing religious crisis anywhere in Nigeria.
He added that the step-down training being conducted across the country was meant to sensitise religious groups to “how to make sure that we maintain peace, especially as regards issues that have to do with religion, all over the country.”
The state chairman of CAN, Apostle Akinyemiju, described the inauguration of the interfaith dialogue team as a beautiful initiative which had the potential of integrating people of the Christian and the Muslim faiths towards ensuring enduring peace in Oyo State and Nigeria.
“We in Oyo State CAN are prepared to lend 100 per cent support to this initiative. Whatever that would bring about peace in the local governments, in states and in the federation should be a welcome development and should be supported wholesale,” he stated.
Also, the Executive Secretary of the Muslim Ummah of South-West Nigeria (MUSWEN), Professor Muslih Yahya, who hosted the symbolic inauguration of the team for the Muslim community at MUSWEN secretariat, said: “The worship of God is something that should ever continue for as long as there is life. If that is the case, our efforts should always be towards ensuring that the worship of God is never interrupted. And the only way we can do that is to make sure that there is peace.
“I am happy that a forum like this is doing everything that we don’t just talk about these things but we practise them so that we will have peace.
“It is important that we get a wind of what is happening in our society. That is where the importance of these early warning warns comes in. If we have an early warning, we should be able to have an early response so that we know how to tackle whatever is coming.”