From Gyang Bere, Jos
Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Bako Lalong, said unless Nigerians learn to forgive one another and avoid revenge and reprisals, the nation will continue to witness needless bloodshed and destruction of properties.
Governor Lalong made the remark, yesterday, during an inter-denominational church service to commemorate the third Plateau Day of Forgiveness and Reconciliation at the St. Louis Catholic Church, Jos.
He said although acts of criminality must be swiftly investigated and punished by government and its relevant organs, the long term ambition of every Nigerian who desires peace is to toe the path of reconciliation and forgiveness.
“As a government, we are very conscious of the fact that the process of restoring peace and confidence among the people cannot succeed without forgiveness and reconciliation. On this day, therefore, we do not try to trivialise or gloss over the trauma, pain and agony that many people have undergone on account of the various crises that took lives and properties.
“Others are still bearing physical scars of their experiences. What this day rather emphasises is how to make the best of the past ugly experiences and chart the way forward. If truly we want to move forward, then, there is every need to encourage healing that makes us do things differently.”
Lalong disclosed that the Plateau Peace Agency has held over 87 multi-level dialogue sessions with conflict parties across 17 local governments in the state, in order to promote the culture of peace through forgiveness and reconciliation.
He said the effort led to the signing of several peace agreements and commitments with various fighting communities in the last five years.
He frowned at the exploitation of the social media by crises merchants who generate and circulate unfounded posts suggesting that there is no peace in Plateau State and that the government has not achieved anything.
The Catholic Archbishop of Jos, Bishop Mathew Ishaya Audu, said the failure of individuals and communities to forgive one another increases the burden of strife, bitterness, anger and violence which provide the ready flame for crises.
He said Christ has demonstrated forgiveness by not only laying down his life for humanity, but admonishing his followers to do same and live in peace. He said Plateau State is experiencing gradual healing and peaceful coexistence because of the efforts of the government to set the right examples and administer justice to all.
The Executive Secretary Nigeria Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC), Rev. Yakubu Pam, said the Day for Forgiveness and Reconciliation is a great initiative by governor Lalong which celebrates the good of humanity, rather than the embers of hatred, bigotry and mediocrity.
Plateau State Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Rev. Fr. Polycarb Lubo, Deputy Chief Imam of Jos Central Mosque, Sheikh Ismail Adam, and the representative of the Gbong Gwom Jos, all called on the citizens of Plateau State and Nigerians, in general, to learn to embrace one another in spite of differences in religion, ethnicity or status.