By Moshood Adebayo
Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, has directed the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) to conduct an enumeration of religious centres, particularly churches and mosques, in the state.
Ambode, who was represented by the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hakeem Abdul-Lateef, gave the directive while inaugurating 798 members of the NIREC appointed for the 20 local governments and 37 local council development areas in Lagos.
“One of the core functions you are going to discharge is the collation of religious institutions at the local government level. You must ensure you compile a list of all churches, all mosques, all faith-based organisations and forward same to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
“I must also urge you to work closely with the local government chairmen and all other officials at the local government level. You are working directly with NIREC at the state level,’’ the governor said.
He urged them to always make sure they relate any matter that is beyond their capacity to the NIREC ‘’and through the NIREC, it will get to my office as the governor of the state.”
While urging them to cooperate with the local government officials and do their best to promote peace and orderliness at the council level, Ambode said their meetings would hold quarterly, apart from extra-ordinary meetings in cases of emergencies.
NIREC Co-Chairman (Muslim), Dr. Tajudeen Yusuf, said the inauguration of the council at the local government level was a proactive step taken by the government. He added that it would ensure continued peaceful co-existence among people of diverse religious and ethnic groups in the state.
His words: “Today, we are inaugurating the members of NIREC at grassroots and it is a proactive step on the part of our governor to ensure the monumental development that Lagos state is witnessing is not taken for granted.
“Muslims and Christians are in a better position to ensure we continue to have peace and inter-religious dialogue as well as peaceful co-existence in Lagos state.
“We are, by this inauguration, taking inter-religious dialogue to the grassroots so that when crises arise, they are quickly nipped in the bud,’’ Yusuf said.
Also speaking, NIREC co-Chairman (Christian), Dr. Israel Akinadewo, urged religious leaders to continue to educate their followers, especially the vulnerable ones at the grassroots.
“A Christian leader is a Christian whose actions and inactions are not only Christ-like but serves as a good example to younger Christians. Also, in a country like Nigeria, and irrespective of what they do for a living, many people are majorly Christians and Muslims. Within the NIREC, the people respect the opinions of their leaders, who they refer to as the representatives of God.
“Hence, their views on any matter are taken seriously. Religious leaders should not encourage wars, hatred and vengeance. They are to be firm in the discipline of any of their followers who take steps that work contrary to Godly teachings,’’ Akinadewo said.
Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs, Mr. Muslim Folami, commended Ambode for running a community-based administration of inclusion by bringing governance down to the grassroots.