The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola has called on religious leaders to guide their pulpits with a sense of responsibility and exercise decorum in what they churn-out to adherents.
Fashola, who made call at an inter-faith conference on “Peace, Religious Harmony and Good Governance: Issues and Challenges”, described faith as a powerful tool that must not be used for personal aggrandizement and called for caution against all forms of religious debate.
“There are rules in the legal profession, there are rules in football as well; you cannot tackle from behind, what are the rules in religious debate, who is going to be the umpire. I know that there are many people who have spiritual calling; I also know that for some, it’s a business.
For a long time, the State and religion had been one, but over time, we have also tried to separate religion and the State, but it has not been a successful venture. I’m not sure that clear separation will happen and I’m not even sure what clear separation will deliver. But perhaps, one of the things I will suggest is that we should take better control of our pulpits and be more restrained in what comes from there.”
The governor maintained that religious harmony is a basis for peace, stressing that attention should rather be on harmony among different faith and the peace would follow.
While alluding to the call for Christian governor in Lagos State in 2015, Fashola told the gathering that religion should not be substituted for good governance.
“I read in one of the papers this morning, a statement that was credited to the effect that a group is insisting on a Christian governor. I don’t recall the last time that a governor of Lagos was elected on his religious beliefs.
What will the preference for governor of one faith over the other even benefit us? Will it give one religion roads that other faiths cannot use? Will it give them schools that children from other faiths cannot attend or will it bring water that only one faith can drink, or will it begin to draw a very clear line between poverty and the faith? Does hunger know your faith?
“Maybe we should begin to draw the line of distinction and begin to have Christian money and Muslim money; and in the blood banks now where life is being threatened, maybe we should begin to have Christian blood and Muslim blood,” Fashola pointed out.
He implored the people to shun all forms of religious dichotomy saying that the nation had integrated for over 50 years and could not afford to be taken aback now. The Lagos State Governor also urged religious institutions to begin to own and run businesses like their counterparts in other climes in order to mop-up unemployment and develop the society.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Home Affairs and Culture, Mr. Oyinlomo Danmole noted that the conference became imperative to examine the correlation between peace and religious harmony.
Quoting from the Holy Bible and the Quran, the commissioner harped on forgiveness and peace as key elements for development and progress noting that the conference was critical for Nigeria.