Nigerian Diplomat Supports LCC in “Christian State” Debate

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Nigerian Charge d’Affairs Mohammed Tahir has thrown his support behind the decision by the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC) to exempt itself from an effort by some Christians to make Liberia a Christian State.

Mr. Tahir declared his support at a forum organized by the Gabriel L. Dennis Foreign Institute on May 6, 2016 to discuss terrorism and suggest solutions.

The Nigerian diplomat said making Liberia a Christian state will only bring unnecessary tensions and will cause others to feel excluded, which also promotes terrorist sentiments.

He said: “Government should not allow unnecessary tension, for it allows others to come in; and where confusion is, there Boko Haram and other terrorist groups want to come.”

Mr. Tahir noted that Liberia is surrounded by countries that are dominated by Muslims, and allowing religious tension to rise will allow extremists to come here and exploit it.

With Liberia’s porous borders, a worrisome reality is that terrorist groups are operating in nearby countries, including Mali and Nigeria, from where aliens come almost every day to seek greener pastures in Liberia. The Al-Qaida supported Tuareg rebels are in northern Mali while the notorious Boko Haram is in Nigeria, with maritime piracy in the Gulf of Guinea becoming another issue of concern.

He said since Liberia is dominated by Christians and there is religious tolerance, it is better to uphold the existing values so that everyone can peacefully coexist instead of creating a problem that will divide people.

The Nigerian Charge d’Affairs is the second diplomat in recent times to register his rejection of calls by some Liberians to make the country a Christian state through a constitution referendum.

It may be recalled that last week South African Ambassador to Liberia, Vanapalan Punjanathan Moodley, expressed his support for the decision by the LCC to disassociate itself from calls by other Christians to make Liberia a Christian state.

Ambassador Moodley said he was not interfering in Liberian politics, but as a diplomat whose country has a mutual relationship with Liberia, he and other diplomats can intervene in any situation that has the propensity to cause chaos in the country.

Directly treating the topic for which the forum was organized, the Nigerian Charge d’Affairs also emphasized that cooperation and collaboration are essential to fighting terrorism and reducing its threat.

He said that because of collaboration between Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, they are able to fight Boko Haram for disturbing the entire region.

In agreement with other speakers, Mr. Tahir said that development, amenity, promotion of human rights, good governance and rule of law, and practicing good democratic principles are basic elements for discouraging terrorism.

He also urged governments to devise strategies to avoid political discontent and make funds available for quick response to terrorist threats.

Pointing to Nigeria as a case study, the Charge d’Affairs said it was through ecological funding and development that tensions in the Niger Delta, where militants of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) once operated, was calmed down.

In a recent event involving cattle herders and farmers, he said the Nigerian government has also provided grazing fields for the herders to prevent their cattle from entering farmers’ corn fields.

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