TO enhance national cohesion, growth and development, a call has gone to the Nigerian Government to remove religion and state of origin from every form of documentation the citizens are engaged in.
The call, it was said, became imperative in view of the emphasis being laid on the two identification means in the interaction among the citizens of Nigeria both at the formal and informal levels and at the detriment of the country’s unity, harmony and peaceful coexistence.
This was part of the recommendations made at the end of a three-day workshop organised by the Institute of Church and Society (ICS), the research and study centre of the Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN), Samonda, Ibadan for religious stakeholders in the Southwest geopolitical zone of the country.
With the theme, ‘Understanding Freedom of Religion or Belief in Nigeria Context’, the workshop, which was attended by Christians, Muslims and traditional religion worshippers from across the zone also had in attendance the Secretary-General of the CCN and President, women’s wing of the body, Rev. Dr. Yusuf Wushishi and Mrs. Uzoaku William respectively.
The religious stakeholders were of the view that the insertion of both state of origin and religion in virtually every document the Nigerian citizens fill has done more harm than good for the country because of the way and manner Nigerians now relate with one another, emphasizing they are the two attributes which divide the people the more.
While stressing the need to fully understand what Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) means, it was noted that “there’s no portion of the constitution which hinders anybody from practicing whatever religion he/she likes, but, out of ignorance, a lot of people don’t want to see anything good in others’ religion, which should not be so.
“The constitution even guarantees citizens’ right of worship in any manner or mode, but, lack of knowledge among practitioners leads to discrimination against one another’s religion and even persecution. The time has come for us to redefine ourselves and work towards building a nation devoid of religious acrimony”, the stakeholders added.
Asking Nigerians to be more conscious of the imperative of FoRB, it was disclosed that research by the Institute for Economic and Peace “found that countries with greater religious freedom are generally more prosperous than countries with less religious freedom”.
While welcoming participants to the workshop, the Director of ICS, Very Rev. O. Kolade Fadahunsi lamented that “religion has nearly become a curse on Nigeria rather than blessing, yet, as religious people or people of faith, we must work in tandem with our constitutional provisions to rescue our failing society by holistically looking into our approach and find a lasting solution to our religious problems, hence, the adoption of the need to embrace FoRB”.