Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has urged residents to resist any attempt made by unscrupulous elements using religion to spread hatred and disunity.
Sanwo-Olu, represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs Folashade Jaji, gave the advice on Wednesday in Ikeja, during the celebration of the 2022 International Day for Tolerance.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the event was: ”The Role of Religion in Democratic Governance in Nigeria”.
He said that religion had influence in democratic governance, especially in the socio-political ecosystem, as it was regarded as a way of life and a moral compass that all faithful were bound to live by.
According to him, ordinarily, the issue of religion in governance should not give any cause for concern, as religions teaches positive virtues such as love, honesty, integrity, transparency, accountability, decency and respect.
“These virtues, if properly imbibed, will no doubt, impact positively on governance, which will translate to improved welfare of the people.
“It must, however, become a cause for concern when religion becomes a tool in the hand of unscrupulous people to fan the embers of disunity and chaos in our society, to achieve selfish end.
“We have a duty to resist any attempt to cause confusion, promote hatred and intolerance, because these are antithetical to the teachings of all religions and therefore, counter productive,” he said.
The governor said that it was important that residents continued along the path of mutual respect, in order to sustain the prevailing atmosphere of peace, which was the foundation for growth and development.
He commended religious leaders in Lagos State for their commitment to promoting religious tolerance, harmony and friendship across religious divide.Sanwo-Olu said that the state government would continue to remain impartial and protect citizens’ right to practise any religion of their desire.
“We will also remain committed to our promise to create equal opportunities for all citizens without discrimination on the basis of religion, ethnicity, tribe, gender or socio-economic status.
“I urge all Lagosians to sustain the spirit of tolerance, understanding and accommodation, which Lagos is well known for, especially as we prepare for another general election in 2023,” he said.
The Wife of the Lagos State Governor, Mrs Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, said that it had been sadly observed that the political landscape was becoming toxic with hate speech, fake news, and outright disinformation being employed.
Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by Mrs Mojisola Fashola, said that this had resulted in name-calling, mudslinging, and all sorts of dangerous tactics and antics.
She urged political leaders to be tolerant of views that were considered to be at variance with their beliefs and socio-political leanings, as stakeholders should learn to respect such opposing views.
In his remarks, the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Prince Anofiu Elegushi, said that tolerance was not just an ethical duty, but the political and legal necessity for individuals, religions, groups, state.
Elegushi called on religious institutions to educate the populace on their civic responsibilities.
“Our religious institutions have a great role to play in educating and enlightening the populace with regards to their civil responsibilities and obligations to national survival.
“Our pulpits must teach religious tolerance, respect for humanity, and peace,” he said.
In his lecture, the Professor of Theology at the Lagos State University, Dapo Asaju, urged Christian leaders on the need to preach the undiluted truth and reverse the erosion of morality in the society.
Also, one of the Imam at the Lagos Secretariat Mosque, Dr Saeed Ahmad, reminded Muslims that righteousness, justice, equity and piety remained the hallmarks of Islam.
Ahmad said that they should always remember that they were not only accountable to the government but also to God. (NAN)