It was religious unity exemplified in Abuja at the weekend as the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Rt. Rev. John Onaiyekan, delivered a message of goodwill at the third triennial delegates congress of the Northern States Council of the Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria.
In the message, the Catholic archbishop enjoined well-meaning Nigerians, of whatever creed, to do everything possible to promote the current climate of peace and freedom in the country and to avoid whatever could disturb or disrupt it.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Rt. Rev. Onaiyekan told the congress that it was "a pity that religion has been turned into a cause of trouble, instead of a major remedy for our self-inflicted problem." He said it was unfortunate that in the last two years, some serious problems have been fomented between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria by some politicians for reasons other than religious.
Rt. Rev. Onaiyekan, who is also the National Vice-President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, said he was convinced, however, that the problems created were within the capacity of religious leaders and their followers to resolve with a minimum of goodwill.
He said Nigerians should thank God that there were a great number of citizens who were sincere in their worship and that God had been answering prayers, especially in the country's moments of serious crises.
In a message which she sent to the congress, wife of the vice-president, Mrs. Titi Atiku Abubakar, said Muslims must preach the gospel of religious tolerance and harmonious relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims.
"Our mode of worship may be different, but we worship the same God," she stressed.
Mrs. Abubakar also said Muslims must contribute to efforts to pull Nigeria out of the "decadence and confusion it found itself during the dark ages of military dictatorship."
The message, entitled, "let's use religion as an instrument of peace," was delivered to the congress on her behalf by Dr. Garba Idris, Technical Assistant to the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Amina Ndalolo.
In an address of welcome earlier, national president of the Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, Alhaji Bisiriyu Onisaroto, said Nigerian politicians had a lot to do to make life meaningful for the citizenry.