From Joseph Asegba, Yola
The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah has said governors of the Northern part of the country should take decisive measures to proffer permanently solutions in order to solve the lingering religious crisis rocking the region.
He said the governors meetings in Kaduna and Abuja shouldn’t be regularized only to share tea and take photographs without addressing the proper teething religious problems tearing the region apart, describing their action as unacceptable.
Bishop Kukah made this knwon in Yola, the Adamawa State capital at the commissioning of Sangere-Marghi Housing Estate, a settlement constructed to accommodate Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) of Boko Haram by the Catholic Diocese of Yola.
He told Governor Fintiri that when he meets with his colleagues in the North, he should remind them to guide and lead the religious leaders on the way out of the present religious intolerance in the region.
“They should not only be talking about dialogue with Bishops, Imams and Emirs sitting together and taking photographs and drinking tea since there are needs to address concrete manifestation of ideas between one another,” Kukah advised.
He stressed that if the spirit of Islam and Christianity exist in the nation actually between members of the two faiths; “we will not be fighting, shedding as much blood as we are seeing today.”
He lamented that: “Nigerians are too religious in paper and not in practice and this has made religion to be a liability to us.”
“It is therefore important for both Christians and Muslims to appreciate what the Catholic Diocese of Yola has done today in bringing people of the two faiths dislodged by the Boko Haram under one umbrella,” he said.
Bishop Kukah therefore called on the IDPs not to regard themselves as refugees, but to abide by the teachings and practices of their religions while in the estate.
On his part, Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri told Muslims and Christians to learn how to stay together devoid of religious acrimony.
Fintiri recalled that the issue of religious intolerance in the North began with the Maitatsine uprising of the 1984, noting with regret that since then, the religious crisis seems not to have defied solutions.
The governor noted with regret that insurgency, kidnapping and other forms of criminality bedeviling the North were off shot of the 1984 Maitatsine religious uprising that rocked almost all the states in the North.
In a welcome address earlier, Bishop Stephen Dami Mamza recalled that the years of insurgency and counterinsurgency operations have resulted in the displacement of approximately 1.9 million people and created a crisis in food, shelter, nutrition and loss of livelihood in the nation’s Northeast.
Mamza, accordingly, stressed that the Yola Diocese has been rendering assistance in feeding and free medical care for over 3,000 families.
He said the construction of the estate is sequel to the presence of the IDPS in Yola Diocese have persisted due to the mass return of IDPs from Cameroon Republic and forceful shutdown of IDPs camps by the state government thereby pushing the displaced persons into outskirts.
Mamza also said that: “We have carefully carried out assessments and held robust discussions with the IDPs to review their lives in the camp after four years and chart a way forward to avoid dependency syndrome and rebuild livelihoods in a dignified manner.”