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VP Shettima Affirms President Tinubu's Devotion To Interfaith Harmony 

*Tasks members on religious tolerance, hitch-free pilgrimage

Vice President Kashim Shettima has the resolve of the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration to uphold religious freedom and interfaith unity. 

According to him, regardless of anyone's position, the place of faith in the nation is not only critical but provides a framework for comfort among citizens and for the stability of the nation at large. 

Speaking on Tuesday when he inaugurated the Board of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission @NGChrisPilgComm at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the Vice President said Nigeria is what it is because it is a nation of God, and this spirituality is of prevailing interest. 

VP Shettima maintained that Nigeria's strength lies in its diversity of faiths, vowing that there will be no discrimination under the Tinubu-led government. 

"Our duty is to provide a safe haven for members of each faith and uphold the rights and freedoms in our constitution," he stated, reminding the board of NCPC's role in easing pilgrimage affairs for Nigerian Christians, a "sacred tradition" that must be prioritized. 

"It is our pledge that Christians will access optimum privileges in pursuit of their spiritual journey. Your duty here is a service to God and humanity in the best way possible, " he added. 

The VP urged the new NCPC board members to be unifying figures dedicated to promoting interfaith harmony through compassion, justice, and mutual respect. 

His words: "We can only emerge stronger and more resilient as a nation through dialogue, empathy and reconciliation. The Nation has grappled with the shadows of division fueled by the flames of intolerance and misunderstanding for far too long. Yet, in the flickering light of hope, we find solace in the knowledge that it is through interfaith harmony." 

VP Shettima recalled President Tinubu's promise when he assumed office, that his government would have no place for discrimination, assuring that the administration is fervently committed to ensuring interfaith harmony remains the ultimate priority. 

"Let us heed the call of the Lord to be our brothers’ keepers, our sisters’ keepers, and good neighbours wherever we find ourselves. We can only achieve this when we recognize that our diversity is not a source of weakness but rather a wellspring of strength," the Vice President observed. 

Earlier in his remarks, the newly appointed Chairman of the NCPC board, Rev. (Monsignor) Cletus Gotan, thanked the President for the government's support in sponsoring pilgrimage journeys that encourage the spiritual upliftment of citizens. 

"We appreciate the interest of the President and his government in encouraging the spiritual upliftment of our citizens by sponsoring these sacred journeys which will take us to our holy places and teach us about unity," Prof. Gotan, who is the Vicar General of the Catholic Archdiocese of Jos and a former Dean of Education at the University of Jos, said. 

The NCPC chairman pledged that the new board would work to improve pilgrimage services. "We will leave the NCPC better than we found it. We would ensure that we go there for prayers for the government, our families and for people," he stated. 

Expressing hope that the pilgrimage exercise would foster greater understanding and unity, Rev. Gotan said, "We pray that the exercise will help us appreciate how to live with each other as children of the same father. God has placed us in a country that is multifarious in nature". 

The Chairman disclosed that the board's composition includes bishops, senior clerics, pastors, former EYN presidents and "eminent men and women of integrity" across Christian denominations, under the government's supervision. 

Other members of the board included Hon. Omowumi Olubunmi Ogunlola (South West), Chief Clement Alobu Nweke (South East), Weli Wosu (South South), Rev. Fr. Prof. Joseph Haruna Mamman (North West), Dr. Toma Hamidu Ragnjiya (North East), Dr. Simon Abu Samson Dolly (North Central) and Bishop Dr. Raphael Benjamin Nwankwo (CAN). 

There were also representatives from the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Central Bank of Nigeria. Bishop Stephen Adegbite was the Executive Secretary of the NCPC.

Stanley Nkwocha

Senior Special Assistant to The President on Media & Communications

(Office of The Vice President)

21st May, 2024


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