Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu and religious leaders in the State have advocated the need for peaceful coexistence and religious tolerance among all residents of the State, saying that religion plays an integral role in a true democratic dispensation.
The Governor and religious leaders from the Muslim and Christian faith stated this on Wednesday during a symposium organised by the Ministry of Home Affairs to commemorate the Y2022 International Tolerance Day in Lagos.
The Symposium, which featured a public lecture and discussion session was preceded by a Walk for Tolerance, to sensitise the public about the importance of peaceful co-existence.
Sanwo-Olu, addressing the participants through the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Folasade Jaji, said that considering the number of religious worship centres and the multitude of adherents of the major religions in Nigeria, it is impossible to ignore the influence of religion in the nation’s democratic governance.
Noting that the theme of the symposium: “The Role of Religion in Democratic Governance in Nigeria”, is apt and relevant considering the influence of religion in our day-to-day living, the Governor stated that religion is regarded as a way of life and a moral compass that all faithful are bound to live by.
The Governor thanked all religious leaders in Lagos State for their commitment to promoting religious tolerance and harmony emphasising the need to continue along this path in order to sustain the prevailing atmosphere of peace which is the foundation for growth and development in the State.
Sanwo-Olu vowed to remain impartial in protecting citizens’ right to practice any religion of their choice and in creating equal opportunities for all citizens without discrimination on the basis of religion, ethnicity, tribe, gender or socio-economic status.
He urged Lagosians to sustain the spirit of tolerance and understanding, as we prepare for the general election in 2023.
In a goodwill message, the First Lady of Lagos State, Dr. (Mrs.) Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, affirmed that any society in which intolerance is the order of the day, cannot be peaceful and in the absence of peace, crisis, strife, underdevelopment, hostility, retribution and economic downturn, among others, will reign supreme.
The First Lady, represented by a member of the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO), Mrs. Mojisola Fashola observed with concern that the political landscape in recent times is becoming toxic with hate speech, fake news, and outright disinformation being employed by different political parties, saying that this has resulted in name-calling, mudslinging and all sorts of dangerous antics.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Prince Anofiu Elegushi, said that the theme for the event: “The Role of Religion in the Democratic Governance in Nigeria”, came at a good time when Nigerians are gearing up for the upcoming General Elections next year.
The Guest Lecturers at the event, Prof. Dapo Asaju, an Anglican Bishop and Dr. Saeed Ahmad, one of the Imams at the Secretariat Mosque, Alausa, said that in order to achieve good governance and political stability in Nigeria, religion and religious leaders must assume the position of a watchman.
They submitted that electorates must look unto God to choose credible leaders instead of relying on political permutations and philosophies which had failed the electorates in the past.
Bishop Asaju, who pleaded with Nigerians to choose credible and God-fearing leaders, said that elected leaders should govern with the fear of God and with the consciousness that they are accountable to God on the last day.
On his part, Dr. Ahmad warned religious leaders to desist from looking for visions to know who the winners of elections would be before elections are conducted, saying when such vision fails, violence becomes the order of the day.