Nigeria won't disintegrate: President
By Rafiu Ajakaye, Monday, August 11, 2014
LAGOS – Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan has dismissed prophesies that he country's ethno-religious diversities would lead to its disintegration.
"As the 2015 elections draw near the doom's day sayers are out and predicting how Nigeria is going to catch fire next year," Jonathan told an interfaith dialogue conference in the capital Abuja on Monday.
"In the opinion of some so-called experts, our ethnic and religious differences are bound to boil over. They portray us as bound to fail. But I can say categorically that Nigeria will not disintegrate. We will not fail," he said.
Jonathan chided politicians who continue to make what he described as "reckless" and "irresponsible" statements in effort to gain power.
"Such politicians will fail," he said, going on to pledge free and fair election in the country.
"My promise for free and fair election is clear. 2015 elections will come and go and Nigeria will be stronger," he said.
Monday's inter-faith conference brought together politicians and clergies, including head of Nigeria's Muslims Sultan of Sokoto Alh Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar and Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Cardinal John Onaiyekan.
Both are the co-chairmen of the interfaith dialogue, founded by them to promote interfaith dialogue and advance peace.
Jonathan hailed the initiative as being in tune with his administration's commitment to national peace and unity.
"Despite the fact that we have survived the civil war and continue to evolve as one nation with one destiny, we have among ourselves those who continue to divide us and put it that we as Nigerians cannot live together," he said.
In their separate speeches at the event, the Sultan of Sokoto and the Archbishop pledged to work for a united Nigeria, where citizens across line will work for its greatness.
"His eminence John Cardinal Onaiyekan and I, as well as other members of the interfaith initiative for peace, will be happy leading the conversation towards a better Nigeria," the sultan said.
Onaiyekan echoed similar sentiment, saying "It is our desire to see a united nation where we - Christians and Muslims - will relate as one, being members of the faith community."
A communiqué is expected at the end of the two-day event upon which organizers say would form the basis of interfaith dialogue ahead the 2015 ballot.
Tension has been high in Nigeria over a deadly insurgency led by the militant Boko Haram group, which is largely described in the Christian-majority south as intended to create an Islamist Nigeria.
Although most Muslims have denounced the militant group as serving ulterior motives other than an Islamic agenda, the mainstream Christian Association of Nigeria continues to portray Boko Haram as an Islamic agenda.
Some Christian clerics, however, have cautioned against the narrative.
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