CAIRO - Exhibiting a rare unity, Nigeria Muslims and Christians united in their calls to reinstate fuel subsidy amid increasing fears of a looming civil war incited by Boko Haram recent attacks, Nigerian newspaper The National reported on Friday, January 13.
Nigerians must come together, a rally including Nigeria pastors and imams chanted.
We must sink ethnic and religious differences. It is high time we laid emphasis on our common goals in order to forge greater unity and take this country to El Dorado.
Overcoming their ethnic and religious differences, Nigerians gathered at a venue at Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park, Ojota Lagos to protest the Federal Government's removal of fuel subsidy that shot the price of petrol to an all-time high of N141.
At the march, thousands of Muslims gathered under the banner of the Conference of Islamic Organisations (CIO) with thousands of Christians, showing a strong unity among adherents of the two major religions.
They were shouting Allahu Akbar! (God is Greatest), Halleluiah!
Pastor Tunde Bakare, who introduced the Muslim clerics to the crowd, urged Nigerians to learn from the peaceful co-existence between Muslims and Christians in the Southwest, especially Lagos.
Today is another great day in the history of our country, he said.
Our unity and peaceful co-existence is never in doubt here. No matter what any individual or group may have done to create friction among us, we remain united and determined to unite as one.
The Nigerian government last week eliminated fuel subsidies as part of efforts to cut government spending and encourage investment in local refining.
But the decision has sparked popular anger in the oil-producing country, with trade unions threatening strikes to force the government to reconsider the decision.
Strikes have forced previous governments into u-turns on fuel subsidy cuts.
While violence sparked by religious and ethnic divisions left about 1,500 people dead last year alone in Nigeria, some hope the ongoing protests gripping the oil-rich nation will bring together a country that already suffered through a bloody civil war.
The religious leaders urged Nigerians to cooperate irrespective of their religious and ideological inclinations towards the prosperity of their country.
This is the period when we must look inward for some self-examination, Dr Ishaq Akintola; National Missioner, said.
We must ask ourselves if we are fulfilling the wish of God who created us.
Luqman AbdurRaheem, from the Muslim Congress (TMC), also urged various religious sects to be united.
Bombs do not respect Imams, Pastors, Muslims and non-Muslims. Dangerous weapons portend doom for all, he said.
The various bombings of Nigerians do not find place and theological justification in Islam. The solution to whatever disagreement definitely is not killing and bombing, but dialogue and tolerance.
CIO coordinator Imam Abdullahi Shuaib appealed to all religious leaders to exhibit maturity in their comments.
This is the time to douse tension. Religious leaders must avoid statements capable of inflaming passions, he said.
They must keep reminding their followership of the true teachings of love, tolerance and forgiveness which are replete in both the Bible and the Qur'an.
Nigeria, one of the world's most religiously committed nations, is divided between a Muslim north and a Christian south.
Muslims and Christians, who constitute 55 and 40 percent of Nigeria's 140 million population respectively, have lived in peace for the most part.
But ethnic and religious tensions have bubbled for years, fuelled by decades of resentment between indigenous groups, mostly Christian or animist, who are vying for control of fertile farmlands with migrants and settlers from the Hausa-speaking Muslim north.
The tensions are rooted in decades of resentment between indigenous groups, mostly Christian or animist, who are vying for control of fertile farmlands and for economic and political power with mostly Muslim migrants and settlers from the north.