The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Archbishop Daniel Okoh yesterday said only Justice can help democracy to thrive.
According to the CAN President, democracy has become a nightmare in Nigeria because of lack of justice and warned against what he described as persistent ethnic profiling.
Okoh stated this at a Church and Mission Leaders’ Summit in Abuja, organised by Gideon and Funmi Para-Mallam Peace Foundation, Okoh said over 250 ethnic nationalities are plagued by religious, ethnic, communal and resource conflict, adding that even the “benefits from oil wealth could not touch the lives of the people equitably.
“Allegiances to ethnic groups come first before the Nigeria state. The rise of separatist groups, bandits and the Boko Haram extremists threatens our corporate existence and growth as an indivisible entity.Unfortunately, in our time, democracy that proves to be the best form of government anywhere in the world is fast turning to a nightmare for us.
“The February and March 2023 polls were characterized by manifest irregularities and a lot of ordinary people are fast losing hope in the democratic system of government in Nigeria. This in itself is a major conflict that will require peacebuilding efforts to persuade the different political parties that participated in that election to embrace peace for the good of the nation.
“If this is not done, it may take a long time to restore the confidence of the majority of Nigerians to keep faith in government institutions again, particularly, the electoral body,” Okoh said, adding that efforts by local and international peace bodies have culminated in the fragile peace Nigeria has today.
“Peace building is actually an endless project as issues likely to trigger conflict continue to confront the nation on a daily basis. Ability to douse these tensions and persuade the aggrieved parties to seek a peaceful solution to their contention is the hallmark of peacebuilding efforts.”
“Violent conflicts among diverse communities have become endemic and too prolonged with a good number of people killed, properties worth billions of Naira have been destroyed and millions of people displaced from their ancestral lands.
“This has created communities known as “Internally Displaced Persons” (IDPs) who now live in deplorable conditions in Internally Displaced Camps in many parts of Nigeria. Those who are not yet displaced live in fear, suspicion and uncertainties. The overall effect is hunger, poverty, political instability and increased debt burden leading to an unprecedented social dislocation.”
He however said he is glad that Rev & Prof. (Mrs.) Gideon Para-Mallam have dedicated their lives to this onerous task of peacebuilding and they have made tremendous impact in our nation particularly in the North, through these efforts.
As a way forward, he proffered that there must be a commitment to transparency in elections that bring people to political leadership positions in order to ensure full participation in the election and eliminate voter apathy.
He said Nigeria is delicately polarized along ethnic and religious lines and must tread cautiously and always make concerted efforts to build, nurture and sustain peace.
“Peace will not come if we do not leave our comfort zones to engage people of other religions and ethnic groups. In this, we have no other choice. It is not too late for the Nigerian state to deliberately seek genuine reconciliation and resolution of the contentious religious and ethnic crises militating against our progress and development.” He said.
The Convener, Dr Gideon Para-Mallam, said sustainable peace in Nigeria is never to be taken for granted adding that global peace continues to be threatened.
“Persecution and violence against the Church have become an easy trigger for attacks in Christians communities all over Nigeria,” he added.