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Planned Christian, Muslim Youth Summit in Nigeria to “explore peace, unity challenges”

YOWICAN Chairman, Belusochukwu Enwere (right) holding a copy of the Bible and the National President of the National Council of Muslim Youth Organization, Sani Suleiman (left) holding a copy of the Coran. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The planned Peace, Unity and National Integration Summit under the auspices of the Christian and Muslim youth leaders in Nigeria is expected to explore challenges to peace and unity in the West African Nation.

Addressing journalists Wednesday, September 29 in Abuja, the leaderships of the Youth Wing Christian Association of Nigeria (YOWICAN) and the National Council of Muslim Youth Organization said the Summit that is scheduled to take place during the first week of November is a response to the increasing cases of insecurity in Africa’s most populous nation.

“I am happy to let you know today that we are proposing a Peace, Unity and National Integration Summit, which is the first of its kind in the history of Nigeria,” YOWICAN Chairman, Belusochukwu Enwere said.

Mr. Enwere noted, “Nigeria is facing a lot of challenges in all parts; the Christian and Muslim Youth are coming together to ensure that they maintain peace and unity in the country.” 

The planned Summit, he said, will be designed to “create an all-inclusive and interactive platform anchored by the youth of Nigeria under the two leading religious organizations towards charting a noble course for achieving the goal of a peaceful, secured and sustainable Nigeria.”

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“The peace Summit (was) necessitated by the incessant security challenges, killings and banditry that have bedevilled Nigeria in recent times, ranging from insurgency, kidnapping, cultism herdsmen and farmers clash and other act of criminality that has led to the loss of lives and properties,” he added.

Mr. Enwere further said that youth groups from both religious entities are working for the peaceful co-existence of the people of God in Nigeria. 

All the agitations, bickering and whatever has been happening in the country so far will be discussed, he further said, and appealed to the youths to “embrace peace and stop agitations at the Southern part of the country and other parts of the country and come to the round table and discuss the way forward.”

“We are calling on our leaders at all levels to support this program to the fullest. At the end of the peace summit, we are proposing to submit the report to the President and National assembly for implementation,” Mr. Enwere added.

Nigeria has been experiencing insecurity since 2009 when Boko Haram insurgency began with the aim of turning the country into an Islamic State.

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Since then, the group, one of largest Islamist groups in Africa, has been orchestrating indiscriminate terrorist attacks on various targets, including religious and political groups as well as civilians.

The situation of insecurity in the West African nation has further been complicated by the involvement of the predominantly Muslim Fulani herdsmen, also referred to as the Fulani Militia, who frequently clash with Christian farmers over grazing land.

Also speaking to journalists during the September 29 press conference, the National President of the National Council of Muslim Youth Organization, Sani Suleiman, said the journey so far in Nigeria has been very difficult following insecurity and agitations for separation.

“If we look at Nigeria as a country today and we look at the journey so far, we can say that the journey has been very difficult, whether we look at the journey from our co-existence as people, on the basis of ethnic, religious and sectional background or we look at the social background of Nigerians and how Nigerians are coping economically,” Mr. Suleiman said.

Addressing Nigeria’s challenges, Mr. Suleiman said, goes “beyond press conferences, organizing youth summits, sitting in the comfort of a hall to talk, but all hands must be on deck where politicians and leaders play their roles.”

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“We are coming from the background of understanding that addressing these problems requires all hands to be on deck; politicians have roles to play, people who are in positions of authority from the President to the Governors, down to the local government level must play their own roles in addressing these challenges,” the Muslim Youth leader said.

He noted that there is “need to go down to these communities and engage with the youth in these communities who are involved in these problems.”

“For us to address these issues we are coming up with a process of systematic engagement through creating a platform where we can speak to one another and build our identity as Nigerians,” Mr. Suleiman told journalists in Abuja September 29.

He called on youth leaders in the West African nation to “join hands and support our traditional leaders, our political leaders to make Nigeria better by working as a youth to address the challenges of drug abuse, violence, crimes and rise up as Nigerian youth to say tomorrow will be better for us.”