Nigerian Archbishop Advocates for Dialogue, Says “peace is never achieved on battlefield”

Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama with faith leaders at the Maiden Edition of an International Conference on Interreligious Dialogue at Veritas University Nigeria. Credit: Abuja Archdiocese.

The Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja in Nigeria has underscored the value of dialogue as the most appropriate pathway to achieving “justice and fairness to all” in the face of violent conflicts.

In his keynote address during the Maiden Edition of an International Conference on Interreligious Dialogue at Veritas University Nigeria, Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama said that peace is achieve “on the table of dialogue”, and not on the battlefield.

“Nigeria with its history of misunderstanding, uncertainties and deliberate attempts to distort history, facts about population, everyone playing the victim, must see genuine dialogue as condition sine qua non,” Archbishop Kaigama said during his address on Thursday, May 12.

The Nigerian Catholic Archbishop said, “Dialogue is incumbent on us for justice and fairness to all. We all know that peace is never achieved on a battlefield but on the table of dialogue.” 

He added, “When the battle is over, we return to the table of discussion. So why not avoid the former and go directly to the latter. It saves time, energy, lives, and resources.”


“The era of constant battle is over and the era of dialogue and consensus has been established,” Archbishop Kaigama said during the conference that was held under the theme, “Rethinking Interfaith, Cultural, Ecumenical and Religious Dialogue in a Nigeria's Pluralistic Context.”

According to the Local Ordinary of Abuja Archdiocese, Nigerians “must make room for every form of human diversity. For this reason, rethinking the concept of dialogue in Nigeria and giving it a prime position cannot but be done now. Cases of Christians fighting Christians or Muslims fighting Muslims would not exist when we consider the option of dialogue.”

He said, “There can be no good management of diversity without the knowledge of one another, and there can be no knowledge of one another without coming together.”

“The table of dialogue is where peace is shared. It gives an opportunity for people to air their grievances and explain the misconceptions about others. If this is sincerely done, our diversity will not snowball into crises or conflicts,” Archbishop Kaigama said during his May 12 address.

He continued, “Dialogue of life is living and interacting with people of other faiths and understanding that there is another view or religion.”

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“The religious extremist would say no to the dialogue of life. This is why they would call for Muslims alone or Christians alone to live in a particular section of the country or city,” the Local Ordinary of Abuja Archdiocese said.

He continued in reference to religious extremists, “They would advocate for Muslims alone to go to Muslim schools and Christians alone to go to Christian schools. But can they also maintain a Muslim-alone road or Christian-alone market?”

“Religious crisis results from exclusivism. It is a situation where a believer feels that his own faith is the one true faith and others have no basis or worse still, to apply such derogatory terms as infidels or unbelievers,” Archbishop Kaigama said.

He added, “Dialogue has the extreme capacity to do what the bombs, guns, deadly arrows, spears and vicious early morning or late-night attacks cannot resolve.” 

“The historical composition of Nigeria, its amalgamation, military rules, etc. have created problems that must be objectively analyzed and dispassionately resolved,” the Nigerian Archbishop said.


He continued, “Ethnic and religious hypersensitivity must yield to rational analysis of issues, common values and love of our country (patriotism).”

Archbishop Kaigama highlighted factors contributing to protracted conflict saying, “Unnecessary competition of religious interests, superiority or numerical advantage, pose great challenges to harmony. Polarization occurs. Prejudices, stereotypes become the order of the day. Instead of religion building us up, it is eating us up and disfiguring our national identity and crippling national progress.” 

“We must endeavor to affirm and respect what is good and true in all religious traditions, as God wants all to be saved,” he said.

The Catholic Archbishop implored in his address at the international conference on interreligious dialogue, “May God grant success to the work of our hands and may our deliberation today bear lasting fruits.”

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.