President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, has maintained that the underlining factor for the deadly Boko Haram massacres in Nigeria is based on religion and plans to Islamize Nigeria and not poverty, as widely postulated by some people.
Oritsejafor, who spoke at the Christians Elders Forum of Northern States (NOSCEF) National Conference 2014 in Abuja with the theme “Voices Against Violence”, said that Boko Haram is a phase of problems that have always existed in the northern part of the country.
The CAN president, who said he believes in the unity of Nigeria, stressed that truth is the foundation of every relationship and it must be told because the insurgents are out to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria.
“As Nigerians, we must face the truth that the underlining factor of Boko Haram is religion, an ideology. There must be a superior ideology to counter it by Muslim clerics who they believe in.
“The Muslim leadership must raise clerics that the sect believe in to show them that Boko Haram is wrong, not just saying that Islam does not support violence”, he said.
Speaking at the conference, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said that religion is a powerful force that could easily be manipulated and should not be the centre of political choices.
Welby, who was represented by the secretary for inter-religious affairs for the Church of England, assured Christians that Nigeria is in the prayer lists of many people around the world.
“One of our prayers for all of us involved in this critical situation is that religion does not become central in the political choices that we make. We are so aware that although most religious people are people of peace, religion is such a power force that is easy to manipulate by some politicians, who will like to use it for their own advantage.
“Religion can end up blinding us to both the good and the bad politics of political candidates. We have seen that in the UK where religion is used by politicians for an agenda which is not for the benefit of all.
“And what we are discovering in Britain is the need for leaders who can be driven by the best religious value. We will allow the best values from our religious faith to dictate how we are going to do in the political arena. We are going to work for the common good of all people, whatever our religious background”, he stated.
The chairman of NOSCEF, Olaiya Phillips, who lamented that over 2,000 Christians have been killed in northern Nigeria in 2014 alone, demanded that the federal government and the military start putting effective pressure on Boko Haram to stop killing innocent Nigerians.