By Daniel Tyokua
The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, His Grace, Ignatius Ayua Kaigama has given insight into why killings, religious and ethnic crisis persist across the country.
He linked factors responsible for the disputes in Nigeria to religious and ethnic partiality being desplayed by groups that feel superior over others.
Kaigama stated this on Sunday during his homily at St. Luke’s Catholic Parish, Kubwa in Abuja.
The Bishop exaining the first reading taken from 2 Kings 4:8-11, called on Nigerians irrespective of their background to follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ which emphasis the need to keep good relationships with one another.
He explained that ethnic chauvinism and religious myopia were adding to poverty and these were fuelling economic injustice which are responsible for the increasing conflicts.
According to him, there was no need for leaders and those the informed to stand truth on the head for selfish reasons.
He said: “Hospitality means that you welcome others with love and dignity, because they are made in the image and likenes of God.
“It means that if you are a Hausa man from Kano, you can welcome and integrate whole-heartedly, with respect and genuine love somebody from Enugu or Ibadan or Calabar. And if you are an Igbo person from Enugu, you do the same to someone from Sokoto, Katsina, Makurdi or Zaria.
“A Nigerian should be able to live and work in a hospitable and safe environment in the North or South or East or West of Nigeria without suffering discrimination” he said.
The Bishop explained that because of the “indigene” syndrome, neighbours sometimes fight dirty” and asked people who settled among the indigenous people to strive to live in peace and respect the culture of their host communities.
He said that, “Nigerians identify their States in terms of tribe, and we know that tribes in Nigeria see other tribes as opposition or competitors and so, parochial ethnic interests always prevail rather than the common good” mainly because the leaders have elevated these divisions to state craft.
“The twin problems of ethnic chauvinism and religious myopia added to poverty because of economic injustice are responsible for the conflicts, killings, destruction of farms, animals and even physical infrastructure. Surprisingly, even very educated, enlightened and well exposed Nigerians fail the test when it comes to issues of religion and tribe.
“’We first and others after’. Sadly, this is a tragic recipe for disaster and continuous acrimony. People (including religious leaders) easily become sentimental and almost confrontational or stand truth on the head when issues that affect their ethnic group are up for discussion.
“The Jukun and Tiv in Taraba State where I come from, have been needlessly at each other for decades; inflicting deadly blows, exterminating innocent lives and creating harsh economic hardship for the already poor populations.
“Why can’t the Tiv and Jukun in the name of God stop the mutual brutality, the
stereotyping; the jaundiced perception of one another and give one another the
right hand of fellowship and do what they are best known for, farming and fishing, so that they can experience economic prosperity and a healthy interpersonal relationship, since most of them claim to be Christians?” he asked.
Kaigama said, “love and hospitality will foster economic progress, social integration and peaceful coexistence, saying millions of Nigerians are heartily welcome in other countries but at home we choose to tag one another as foreigners”.
He emohsised need for a change of heart and for everyone to embrace peace, adding that the conflict has caused needless damage to lives and property as well as stalled developments in the two states and their communities.