Religious leaders and faith communities must join hands with governments and play a significant role in ensuring fraternity and harmony in West Africa, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, has said.
Speaking at the General Assembly of the Reunion of the Episcopal Conference of West Africa (RECOWA) held at the ECOWAS Secretariat in Abuja, Osinbajo said an integrated, peaceful and prosperous sub-region would not be fully guaranteed if peace does not first reign in local communities and in each of the countries.
Osinbajo, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari at its opening ceremony, spoke on the theme of the conference, “Fratelli Tutti: Path to Build Brotherhood and Sustainable Peace in West Africa.”
He said the “Fratelli Tutti is the powerful notion on which His Holiness, Pope Francis, anchors his most recent Encyclical – titled Fratelli Tutti—The Concept of the Brotherhood of all Humanity.”
He urged the religious leaders “to not only explore ways of strengthening the bonds of faith between your communities but also of building bridges across every divide that threatens to fracture our nations.
“It is my hope that you will conceptualize ways of bringing the full weight of the immense moral authority that you possess upon our nations and in the sub-region as a whole.
“The idea that fraternity and social friendship are the ways to build a better, more just and peaceful world with the commitment of all people and institutions. The Encyclical proposes some of the boldest and most radical ideas on securing human unity, peace and security.
“By offering concrete prescriptions on building brotherhood and sustainable peace anywhere, the Encyclical Fratelli Tutti rightly takes the position that this is not merely the business of governments and political institutions; it must also be anchored on our civil societies of which the faith communities are an important constituency,” he said.
In ensuring peace and stability in the country and region, the Vice President said “the Government of Nigeria remains committed to collaborating with the Church and all well-meaning actors in promoting peace and security.”
Stressing that “concern for our neighbours is the moral foundation of social welfare,” Osinbajo observed the Good Samaritan story was told by the Lord Jesus and “raises sacrifice and concern for the well-being of others over self, thereby establishing “the truth that love of our neighbour is the greatest expression of our faith.
“Social security for the poor and vulnerable are schemes that ensure that none is left behind and that no citizen in these blessed West African nations needs to go to bed hungry.
“That we must prioritise universal healthcare, while also ensuring free and compulsory basic education. And that we must create the environment for millions of young and restless people within our borders to find good-paying jobs and live decent lives.”