UNILORIN holds Inter-religious Conference, calls for unity among religion faithfuls
By Alabidun, Shuaib Abdulrahman
The Inter-religious Council of University of Ilorin, has held her 1st conference themed; “Peaceful Co-existence among Adherents of different Religions: A Panacea for National Integraton and Development” at the Main Auditorium of University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria.
Professor Olatunji; the Chairman Inter-Religious Council and DVC Research, Technology and Innovation in his welcome speech revealed that the conference had been conceived during the administration of Professor Oloyede as Vice Chancellor of the school as a way to ensuring peaceful co-existence among religion adherents on campus.
The speaker, confidently expressed religion tolerance in Unilorin which he believes should serve as a model to the nation at large.
In his opening remark, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Age AbdulKareem commended the Inter-Religious Council for organising such an event at this critical time when Nigeria is facing religious crisis in some parts of the country. He further opined that the conference was aimed at achieving national peace as Nigeria is going through series of socio-political challenges.
Representing the Christian faithfuls, the Catholic Arcbishop of Abuja, John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, gave a keynote on “Religious Harmony and Nation Building in Nigeria”.
Onaiyekan expressed that his presence was to “confirm and profess his faith and conviction that religious harmony is possible in Nigeria”.
He revealed that one of Nigeria’s problem is that “anyone can become a religious leader in one night” resulting to ignorant religious leaders.
The erudite proposed that a theoretical and practical approach will promote religious harmony in Nigeria. He explained that the former was to discover and celebrate common grounds among different faiths as “what we have in common may outweigh what separates is” and the latter for faiths to collaborate and tackle challenges that affect the society like HIV/AIDS.
While representing the Muslim faithfuls, Professor Ishaq Oloyede who doubles as the Secretary General for Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and JAMB Registrar ably represented opined that the society “has suffered in the hands of religious leaders” and urged that Nigerians should “go back to the scriptures and learn how prophets managed pluralistic society”.
The erudite, however, admonished that the adherents of religions should be addressed and not the religion itself when religious crises arise.
He concluded with a view of religion as “a powerful instrument of a society” and an interreligious society as “a divine design of nature”.
In another development, a reputable leader, Igwe Emmanuel, in his speech expressed his dissatisfaction for theoretical approach, as he opined that African culture will solve the issues of co-existence in Nigeria. The speaker urged Nigerians to “sit down and evaluate ourselves by finding out the values of everyone from different tribes and ethnic groups”.
The Vice Chancellor of Benue State University, Professor Kembe, ably represented presented a speech with an urge for interreligious dialogue and cooperation as key for religious harmony.
Also, Professor Olagoke, the Founder and Spiritual Leader of Shaufaudeen Islam in said that religious teachings should be internalised, as it would uphold unity.
He calls on religious leaders to acts in cooperation to foster harmony.
Other Eminent dignitaries at the occasion include, Professor Ambali, the immediate past Unilorin VC, Unilorin DVC Academic, Chairman Inter-religious Council Unilorin, Registrar of Unilorin, University Bursar, Bishop of Kwara State, Provosts of Health Sciences, VC of Halikmah University, University Librarian, Deans and Professors.