By KIKELOMO SHONIBARE, Lagos
Lagos State Commissioner for Home Affairs, Hon. Abdul-Lateef Abdul Hakeem has attributed the peaceful co-existence in the State to the cordial relationship established and promoted by the State Government among the adherent of the different religious beliefs, stressing that religious crisis cannot occur if such cordiality is maintained.
The Commissioner stated this recently while receiving the Special Representative for Religion and Global Affairs, US Department of States, Shaun Casey and the Political/Economic Section Chief, United States Consulate General, Thomas Hines who paid a courtesy visit to his Office at Alausa, Ikeja.
According to Hon. Abdul Hakeem, the State Government has identified religion as a vehicle through which peaceful co-existence can be maintained within the State and has accorded the leaders of the two major religions, Islam and Christianity, the status of developmental partners in the State.
He added that as developmental partners, government expects leaders of these two bodies to serve the dual roles of spiritual rejuvenators and influencers of government policy on religion in their respective places of worship.
“The State Government believes that the integration of religious leaders as development partners in Government policy formulation and execution will expedite quick acceptance of government’s plans and programmes by followers of various religious bodies because of the respect and reverence they have for their leaders”, the Commissioner explained.
He maintained that the intention of the government to make the State a safe haven for every resident is also corroborated by the activities of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (Lagos Chapter), whose core functions involve mediation, dialogue and peaceful resolution of any friction or misunderstanding that might arise from time to time.
The Commissioner stated further that religious leaders have crucial roles to play in increasing the level of religious tolerance among their followers and as such need to be civil in the content of their sermons.
Earlier, Shaun Casey, who led the US delegation, stated that the visit was aimed at understudying the peaceful co-existence among the various religious bodies in Lagos and seek areas of collaboration.
The US representatives advised the State Government to expand its oversight functions on religious matters to include enlightening religious bodies on proper management of funds, administration, training, social interactions and synchronisation of syllabus in their various institutions of training.
Casey maintained that the primary responsibility of his Office is to deal with issues of security, help rebuild the economy and give active support to the anti-corruption drive of President Muhamadu Buhari.
He urged religious leaders to support and collaborate with the Federal Government in its anti-corruption drive, dissociate themselves from accused looters of public funds and preach against corrupt practices in their sermons.
The representatives said the U.S. government will seek partnership with the State Government on projects aimed at achieving the primary focus of his office.