Nigerian Christians and Muslims gathered on 19 August to open the International Centre for Inter-Faith Peace and Harmony (ICIPH).
The centre is located in Kaduna, where more than 20,000 people have died in various conflicts over the last three decades. Amid a growing number of interfaith initiatives in Nigeria, the new centre has a unique goal: to systematically document interfaith relations to inform national and international policy-making.
Key local Nigerian organisations, the Christian Council of Nigeria and Jama’atu Nasril Islam, led the effort to open the centre, which was preceded in 2014 by a consultative forum held in Abuja that drew about 40 Muslim and Christian leaders.
Many supporters were recognised at the grand opening, among them Dr Emmanuel Josiah Udofia, primate of the African Church and president of the Christian Council of Nigeria, Sultan of Sokoto Sa’adu Abubakar, and Dr Khalid Aliyu, Secretary General of Jama’atu Nasril Islam.
Prince Ghazi of Jordan and Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja were also among those who envisioned the centre’s goals and outcomes.
Malam Nasir EL-Rufai, governor of Kaduna State, formerly opened the centre. He shared his experience of the way that religious leaders, both Christian and Muslim, sometimes speak and act in ways that hinder interreligious peace, so he was very pleased to support the centre as a physical symbol helping Muslims and Christians work together more effectively.
Abubakar also voiced his support for the centre, and spoke about how God wants there to be religious diversity in Nigeria. Onaiyekan said he believed the centre could potentially become a model for conflict resolution in other parts of the world.