President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday attended the General Assembly of Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) with a call on Nigerians to give priority to religious tolerance. According to the Vice President, past Nigerian leaders paid lesser attention to religious tolerance because they were more concerned about providing food, education and other things that made livelihood. Speaking at the General Assembly, which had eminent Nigerians including the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, Sultan Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, ministers, senators, royal fathers, Islamic scholars and others at the Conference Hall of the National Mosque, Abuja, Osinbajo who declared the Assembly open, commended the NSCIA for promoting in-ter- faith harmony in addition to being the umbrella body for Muslims.
The VP also expressed happiness that more Nigerians were demonstrating religious tolerance in their approach and dealings, and recalled with delight the role of Imam Abdullah Abubakar in saving the lives of about 262 Christians whom he hid in his mosque and house despite threat to his personal safety.
The Vice president said that many of those the Imam provided shelter for were indigenous Berom people, mostly Christians, who were believed to be the primary targets of the devastating attacks. He likened the Imam’s conduct to the preachings of Jesus Christ, saying that the Imam’s action showed his love for humanity. Noting that it behooved Nigerian leaders to continue to preach tolerance, Osinbajo said many people in the country were beating the drums of ethnic and religious superiority and asked Nigerian leaders to rise up to the challenge of promoting love and harmony among the citizenry.
He commended the Sultan for his untiring efforts at promoting inter-religious harmony, saying the love for humanity by the Imam for people who did not subscribe to his faith was in conformity with the message of Jesus Christ. The VP also cited example of a Christian leader who appealed to him to honour a Muslim governor for giving facelift to churches torched by the religious extremists. He added that Nigerians and indeed more people were demonstrating tolerance in spite of the few who are intolerant and fanning ember of hatred.