The misapplication of state of origin by Nigerian leaders and religious fanaticism among the ruled must be ended, if the nation is to record appreciable development.
This conclusion was reached in Umuahia on Friday by an interfaith group, Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace (IDFP) during a step-down training program for newly inaugurated Abia State team and other participants, held in the State capital.
In his speech during the program, a Bishop of the Methodist Church, Sunday Onuoha, lamented that many Nigerians were victimized in places of residence and workplaces because of their States of origin, even when such people were qualified for such job opportunities.
The Bishop also regretted that even when such a person had spent all his life living and contributing to the development of his place of residence, he is still treated with disdain, noting that no country develops with this phenomenon.
He pointed out that early detection and early response to disputes were the best means of entrenching a peacefully coexisting nation.
Onuoha however, raised the alarm that the ruling class always capitalise on the religious vulnerability of the commoners to achieve their selfish interests.
According to him “We live in Nigeria where people take advantage of religion of the vulnerable. I call on our religious leaders both the Christians and Muslims to ensure that the leaders don’t take advantage of the vulnerable to cause problems. I again add that State of Origin is a violation.”
Co-Chairman of central organising body of IDFP, Ameer Mohammad Jamel Mulid, said IDFP teams had been successfully inaugurated in some States even with Abia, Oyo, Nasarawa, Niger and Rivers States being the latest States to benefit, explaining that early detection , response and mediation to disputes were the best avenue to reducing and eliminating violence among people of diverse cultures and religion.
Abia State government’s representative, Mr. Vincent Ogbonna applauded the efforts of the IDFP, promising that “Abia has always been a peaceful State and the State government will support the program. We will continue to preach and maintain peace as well as provide security for all residents.”
The event was attended by the Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria(CAN), Apostle Emmanuel Agomoh ,Chief Imam of Abia State, Sheik Ali Ukaiwo, Latana Ball Abdulahi, the Project officer of IDFP, leader of Jewish religion among others while the religious leaders present promised to work for the success of the program both in their locality and urban areas.