The responsibility to ensure harmony amongst people of different religious and ethnic backgrounds in Nigeria and elsewhere depends largely on the contributions and sacrifices of faith leaders, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
Prof. Osinbajo stated this on Friday when he received on a courtesy visit to the Presidential Villa, a delegation from the World Methodist Council led by its President, Rev. Dr. Jong Chun Park, and the Prelate of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, His Eminence, Most Rev. Samuel Uche.
While noting that the Methodist Church in Nigeria had played an important role in maintaining harmony in the country, the Vice President said “in most societies that have been seamless, you will realize that a lot of it has had to do with what men and women of God did.
“I think that the role of the church in bringing that harmony is crucial. The political leadership is one, but the solutions to the world’s deepest problem lies in Gospel and I believe that we as the body of Christ hold the key to several of the problems.
“So, the question is how we deploy the resources that God gave to us to unite people. Obviously, it requires tremendous sacrifice and it is really about the sacrifices that we are prepared to make.”
Speaking further about the need for collaboration between government and other stakeholders in promoting harmonious coexistence in Nigeria, the Vice President said “I believe that religious harmony is possible and it is our duty to promote same”, the VP emphasized, while thanking the visiting global religious leader for underscoring the important point.
According to Prof. Osinbajo, “we should try and bring our communities together. We have a large Muslim and large Christian populations, and we can’t do anything without collaboration. Religious leaders can’t wish that away.
“Our Constitution guarantees religious freedom not just in words but in practice in Nigeria, again it is a duty that we accept this reality.
“Despite all the various challenges that we face as a country, we are all resolved that this country is one that is fair for all, that there is justice, equity and that we give everyone a chance to realize the objectives that they set for themselves,” the Vice President added.
He then commended the contributions of the Methodist Church in the development of society noting that “the Church has not just contributed to the salvation of souls, but also to human capacity development, education, and health care.
Earlier in his remark, Rev. Dr. Park commended the role played by the Vice President in promoting religious harmony through his numerous engagements and activities across the country.
He also prayed for the country and its leadership, expressing optimism that the leadership and wisdom exhibited by the Vice President would enable Nigeria achieve its objectives.
Said he:" I feel touched by your harmonized way of governance. May God bless President Buhari and you, the Vice President."
Dr. Park further prayed that God will bless Nigeria, "and all Christians and our Islamic brothers and sisters to live together in harmony, peace and love."
In his own remarks, the Methodist Prelate who introduced Rev Park both as a priest and University Professor expressed satisfaction with the work of the Vice President saying “we are proud of you” adding that this is also “because you attended our school”. He was referring to Igbobi College which was founded by both the Methodist and Anglican Churches.
Also at the meeting were Archbishops, Bishops and priests of the church in Nigeria.