Speech Delivered By Dr Bishop Emmah Gospel Isong To The US Secretary of States and Their Excellencies At A Meeting Held On Wednesday, January 24, 2024 At The Residence Of The Consul General, Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria.

Feb 2, 2024 - 13:32
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Speech Delivered By Dr Bishop Emmah Gospel Isong To The US Secretary of States and Their Excellencies At A Meeting Held On Wednesday, January 24, 2024 At The Residence Of The Consul General, Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria.

Barely few days, we just celebrated the World National Religious Freedom Day on  January 16, a serious religious war erupted.

This led to the razing down of ECWA church and mosques.

Besides, many were feared killed and personal houses burnt in fresh Plateau crisis. 

The state Governor, H.E Mutfwang, has just imposed a 24-hour curfew on Mangu over this renewed killings.

This is not the first of these kind of incidences in Nigeria.

Yet this is not the topic of major discussions among policy makers in government circles.  

Maybe because of other several overwhelming or beclouding pending issues including the aftermath of our last Presidential and state elections and subsequent Court Judgements; lack of political power to  implement the END SARS report; National minimum Wage saga and economic crisis; kidnapping epidemic even within the Federal Capital Territory, and terrorist activities (UNICEF reported to have trained about 285,000 Borno State children Orphaned by BOKO HARAM insurgency); Naira depreciation  (presently at the rate of 1,350 per dollar) and mass exodus of millions of Nigeria Youths called "JAPA" (last two weeks more than 32,000 Nigerians have applied for International passports).

But as the holy scripture says in ROMANS 8vs37: "In all these things we are more than conquerors through HIM that loved us."

Indeed, the love of our brothers and sisters and the US Government has brought us here to interface and interact at a time like this. This is commendable.

For religious acceptability (not just tolerance), I do believe we can co-exist fundamentally as humans (children of ADAM) and as children of ABRAHAM. 

"The same knife a surgeon uses to save a life can be the same knife an assassin uses to take a life." So religion and ethnicity in themselves are not harmful.

According to the Nigeria constitution, Section 38 provides that “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief."  

The constitution stipulates that neither the federal nor state governments shall establish a state religion and prohibits discrimination on religious grounds.  

It provides for freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, including the freedom to change one’s religion and to manifest and propagate religion “in worship, teaching, practice, and observance,” provided these rights are consistent with the interests of defense, public safety, order, morality, or health, and protecting the rights of others.

 The constitution also states it shall be the duty of the state to encourage interfaith marriages and to promote the formation of associations that cut across religious lines and promote “national integration.

”It prohibits political parties that limit membership based on religion or have names that have a religious connotation.

The constitution highlights religious tolerance, among other qualities, as a distinct component of the “national ethic.”

For positive and productive changes, The US Government and Donor Agencies should rather partner with religious leaders and honest Non- Governmental Organisations to reach our people rather than passing needed help through federal or state parastatals because some of these agencies are yet to be free from endemic corrupt systems and handlers. 

 However, Nigeria has continued to face many social and economic challenges as around 40% of Nigerians (83 million people) live below the poverty line while another 25% (53 million).

This way we shall be building bridges and empowering youths for peaceful co-existence; engaging the religious and traditional rulers in education and orientation through their message contents; Organising interreligious seminars, conferences and bridge building symposium and strengthening the social system and promote democratic values.

We shall also engage in Agriculture and ultimate industrialisation; reduce social tension within the population and drastically end kidnapping and religious terrorism. God bless America.

God bless Nigeria. Bishop Isong is the International President, Christian Central Chapel Intl - CCCI; Trustee, Religious Leaders Anti-Corruption Committee of the US CONSULATE; Co- Coordinator, Interfaith Coalition Against Corruption in Nigeria and Executive Director, Remedy For Victims of Religious Persecution and Discrimination Initiative.