Mr. Lekan Sote made a publication on the Punch newspaper of Wednesday 22nd September 2021 titled "What ever happened to NIREC". In the spirit of dialogue, I called Lekan Sote to thank him for the publication and the need to respond to his questions for the benefit of those who are ignorant about NIREC in our dear nation, Nigeria. Among the various questions posed by Lekan is why the near-absence of the voice of NIREC, if not total invisibility, in these days of religious intolerance among Nigerians and the consequent divisiveness in society and politics of Nigeria. NIREC is not a pressure group and does not force the government to implement its constitutional policies. It is not true that NIREC is silent regarding the challenges in the nation. On a daily basis, NIREC monitors and evaluates the events and respond when there is need. Government is advised accordingly without cohesion. For instance, on the 11th of June 2021, the Council met with Mr. President and discussed the issues of insecurity in the nation and ways forward. Similarly, on the 26th August, 2021 the Council had its 2021 third quarter meeting in which a communique' was released in three national dailies namely; the Sun, Daily Trust and Guardian Newspapers on the first of September, 2021. On the same 26th August, 2021, the Council paid a courtesy call to the Defense Headquarters of Nigeria to discuss security issues with the Service Chiefs. NIREC is visible in the social, print and electronic media. NIREC has functional website and YouTube

NIREC visits and intervene in areas where there is conflict. For instance, On September 6, 2021, the Co-Chairmen of NIREC, His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar, CFR, mni, and His Eminence, the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Dr. Samson Olasupo Adeniyi Ayokunle, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Gida Mustapha, the Executive Secretary of NIREC, Rev. Fr. Cornelius Afebu Omonokhua, and Rev. Dr. Ini Ukpuho visited Jos for a consultative peace meeting. The members of NIREC from Plateau State were in attendance. There were four governors in attendance, namely:

  1. HE. Dr. Fayemi Kayode - Executive Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman Nigerian Governors Forum.
  2. HE. Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal - Executive Governor of Sokoto State and Deputy Chairman, Nigerian Governors Forum.
  3. HE. Alh. Abubakar Sani Bello - Executive Governor of Niger State.
  4. HE. Hon. Simon Bako Lalong - Executive Governor of Plateau State and Chairman Northern Governors Forum.

It is not true that the Christian and Muslim Founders of NIREC intentionally excluded or snubbed the adherents of indigenous religions. I am not aware if there is a national umbrella for the indigenous religions like the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA). NIREC has been relating with traditional rulers who are the custodians of the traditional religions at different levels. The current Co-Chairman of NIREC, His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar, CFR, mni, is the current Co-Chair of the National Council of Traditional Rulers. Every Nigerian need change of attitude, values and mental orientation to transform the nation. It could not be true that the problems of the nation are religion and ethnicity. The citizens need serious transformation and re-orientation to make the nation work.

Here is a brief summary of NIREC that was established voluntarily by Christian and Muslim Leaders on the 29th September, 1999. The major objective is to promote peaceful co-existence in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation. NIREC provides space for conflict prevention, conflict resolution and conflict transformation in the country. This lays a foundation to support government in harnessing the natural and human resources to grow a first world nation. The Council upon inception was composed of 50 members; 25 members apiece. It was upgraded to 60 members as stated in Article 2 of the amended constitution of NIREC, 2020. The leadership is co-chaired by the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the President General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA). NIREC has a full time Executive Secretary. The office is located at the Federal Secretariat Complex, Abuja.

NIREC operates with the following committees: Education; Public Issues; Research and Planning; Finance; Dialogue and Peace Building; International Relations. Meetings are held on quarterly basis. Political leaders, religious leaders, Traditional leaders, Opinion leaders in the zones attend the meetings on the invitation of the Governor of the State hosting the meeting. The Federal Government supports the activities of NIREC through the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF). Other contributors include: Host States, Collaborating Agencies and Members of NIREC.

NIREC is affiliated to the following: West African Inter-Religious council (WA-IRC); African Council of Religious leaders (ACRL- RfP) and Religions for Peace (RfP). NIREC work in collaboration with some organizations and Agencies for some specific programs. The Council invites Nigerian Christians and Muslims for collaboration in the promotion of peace, security, common wellbeing and hope for a better Nigeria. The present co-chairmen of NIREC are His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa ad Abubakar CFR, mni, President-General, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and His Eminence, Rev. Dr. Samson Olasupo A. Ayokunle President Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).

-Fr. Prof. Cornelius Afebu Omonokhua - EXECUTIVE SECRETARY