The Minister of Youth and Sports, Barrister Solomon Dalung has called on Nigerians particularly the different people of the North Central Zone to embrace peace, eschew rancor and imbibe religious tolerance to promote peaceful and harmonious co-existence among the different people living in the zone irrespective of their religious, ethnic or political persuasion.
Dalung made the plea while receiving in audience, a 17-member delegation who are Executive members of the NUJ North Central Zone led by the National Vice President Zone D’ Chief Wilson Bako.
The Minister also used the occasion to advocate the inclusion of the North Central Zone in the North East Rebuilding Initiatives; saying leaving the North Central Zone out will be unfair and great injustice
Commenting on the issue of incessant communal and religious crisis in the Zone raised by the Vice President, the Minister noted that every Nigerian should live in peace and enjoy religious freedom irrespective of their faith and creed.
According to him, “I believe that Nigerians should live in peace and respect their religious differences and I believe our diversity should be our strength and not weakness.” He added, “I have taken time to talk to Moslems that Christians living with Moslems should enjoy protection and not harm as enunciated in Saint Catherine Covenant endorsed by the Holy Prophet which stipulates various forms of peaceful co-existence with one another”.
The Minister who went memory lane enumerated factors bedeviling the Zone such as despoliation through slave trade and the Nigerian civil war which caused the depletion of the zone, arguing that the country and Nigerians should appreciate the various sacrifices the zone have made for the corporate unity of the nation politically, socially and culturally.
While noting that the Zone enjoys comparative advantage in endowment of fertile arable land and mineral resources, the Minister called on the youths of the zone to embrace education in order to re-orientate themselves and go back to agriculture for sustenance and occupation.
Dalung noted that the media has always been in the vanguard of political emancipation and fight for justice but wandered why a few section would want to tarnish this laudable legacy through sensationalism and biased criticism. He challenged practitioners to restore professionalism back to journalism while identifying the social media as the greatest threat against tenets of journalism practice, “I have much respect for the media and their constructive criticisms have helped me to render better service to the nation..For those vilifying me for no just cause, they should know that they are not denigrating me as a person but the office of the Minister of the Federal Republic”
The Minister also dispelled insinuations by some critics that RIO was a failure. He asked how winning of a Silver Medal and the feat of being the first African nation to reach the quarter final in Table Tennis and the Semi final in Rowing as well as winning 12 medals in the Paralympics Games; which is the best performance ever in the history of our participation can be termed failure.
The Minister also told the delegation that the Ministry will henceforth focus on grassroots sports development by promoting school sports as being done in other leading sporting countries. He assured them of his support towards the success of their proposed workshop for Journalists on finding solution to communal crisis in the Zone
Speaking earlier, Chief Wilson Bako who led the NUJ Zone ‘D’ Delegation stated that the motive behind the visit was to show solidarity and felicitate with the Minister on his appointment; describing him as “the Minister of the masses who is vibrant and always courageous in condemning societal vices be it religious or otherwise”.
He noted that the Zone has always been prone to crisis and revealed that the NUJ North Central Zone is planning to organize a workshop to train journalists on effective reporting of crisis situation and therefore solicited for the Minister’s assistance in convening the workshop.
The Vice President condemned the serial attacks by a section of the media on the person of the Minister but encouraged him not to be deterred by the good work he is doing.
He also enjoined the Minister to help find solution to the problem of communal crises and youth unemployment prevalent in the zone.
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