Samuel Brownback, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, advocating for peace in Nigerian, has encouraged political office holders to focus on peacebuilding and avoid amplifying ethno-religious tension in the country.
Brownback made this call while speaking at the National Youth Dialogue on ethno-religious tolerance organized by the U.S Consulate General Lagos, in partnership with the African Youths Initiative for Crime Prevention (AYICRIP) which held in Lagos.
Ambassador Brownback, who met with a group of religious leaders during a recent visit to Nigeria in June, commended increased inter-faith engagement and dialogue in Nigeria, but noted that the country can do more to protect citizens’ right to religious freedom.
“However, we need to do better than just achieving tolerance; we need to truly care for each other. The people who stand for peace do not do this because they are from the same ethnic group, or because they share a common religion. They believe the lives of everyone are sacred,” he added.
In his opening remarks, the U.S. Consul General, John Bray, reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to supporting initiatives that promote peace and admonished Nigerians to ensure that cyclical communal violence does not threaten national unity.
Bray noted, “Each of us has a role to play in tamping down tensions between communities of all kinds.
“It is in your hands to ensure that this tragic violence does not descend into broader ethnic and religious fighting, and a cycle of reprisals. We must all make sure that the fighting does not eat away at the fabric of Nigeria, the multi-religious and multiethnic tolerance that makes this a great and unified nation.”