Who We Are
The Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) is a voluntary Association that was made up of fifty (50) Members, (25 Christians and 25 Muslims) formed by the representatives of the two principal Religions – that is Christianity and Islam in Nigeria, on the 11th day of September, 1999. This figure was however reviewed in March 2019 to give room to accommodate more women and youth. The membership now stands at thirty (30) Christians and thirty (30) Muslims, making a total number of sixty (60).
The establishment of NIREC was occasioned by the incessant ethno- religious crisis which punctuated the sociopolitical landscape of Nigeria as a country. NIREC, also known as a Council, is a permanent and independent Body established to provide Religious Leaders and Traditional Rulers with a variable forum to promote greater interaction and understating among the leadership and their followers as well as lay foundations for sustainable peace and religious harmony in the country.
The Council from inception was Co-Chaired by their Eminences, Alhaji Muhammadu Maccido, CFR, the late Sultan of Sokoto and the then President General, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and Dr. Sunday Mbang, CON, the then Primate of Methodist Church of Nigeria/Archbishop J. Akinola, CON, who were one time Presidents of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) respectively.
Supported and encouraged by President Olusegun Obasanjo, who saw the Body as a wonderful Project emanating from the Leadership of both major Faiths, NIREC was inaugurated on the 29th day of September, 1999.The foundation National Coordinator/Executive Secretary of the Council was the then Villa Chaplain, Rev. Professor Yusuf A. Obaje.
The Federal Government under the leadership of the then President, late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and later President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, like their predecessor continued with the policy of support for NIREC since 2007. Under that dispensation, NIREC was initially Co-Chaired by His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, CFR,mni, the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General, NSCIA, and His Grace, Dr. John Onaiyekan, CON, Catholic Archbishop of Abuja and National President, CAN. Professor Is-haq Oloyede, the then Vice Chancellor of University of Ilorin, became the National Coordinator/Executive Secretary. His grace, Pastor Ayo Oritsajafor, CFR a former CAN President was a Co-Chair of the Council from: January, 2011 to 2016 while His Eminence Rev. Dr. Samson Olasupo A. Ayokunle CON was President from 2016 to June 2022.
At present His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, CFR, mni, the Sultan of Sokoto and President General NSCIA and His Eminence Archbishop Daniel Okoh National President CAN Co-Chair the meeting, while Fr. Prof Cornelius Afebu Omonokhua is the Executive Secretary
All the meetings of the Council from inception were held in Abuja. However, when the present Council was reconstituted in 2007, members resolved that the meetings of the Council should rotate in the Six Geo-Political Zones of the country on quarterly basis to impart positively among adherence of the two Principal Religions to further promote religious tolerance, peaceful co-existence, ethical values and good governance in the country.
At such meetings, all Traditional Rulers/Religious Leaders as well as the
Governors and Opinion Leaders in the Zone were expected to attend the
Formal Opening Ceremony and interactive session with the Council. The
Host Governor normally sends invitation to invite the above leaders as well
as his colleagues, Honorable Minsters and Members of the National
Assembly from the Zone.
Communiqués were always issued at the end of each meeting and copies
forwarded to His Excellency, the President through the Secretary to the
Government of the Federation. These were also published in at least, three
Moreover, NIREC is engaged not only in theoretical dialogue but is actively involved in the dialogue of action which makes us act jointly on multi- religious platform to address the major problems of the society, such as insecurity, poverty, corruption, unemployment and diseases. We collaborate with Anti-Corruption Agencies, National Action Committee on AIDS (NACA), and African Union Commission etc. as part of the efforts to assist government in particular and Nigerians generally in bringing about a better society. We also collaborate with International Organizations to reduce the menace of Malaria and other diseases, thus the creation of Nigeria Interfaith Action Association (NIFAA). This is how the issue of mosquitoes being faith-blind (as it would affect the congregation in Church with malaria and move to the Mosque for the same thing without discrimination), is being handled by NIFAA. The annual adopted NIREC meeting entails four (4) Quarterly General Meeting, two (2) Youth Seminars (each for 200 participants) and two (2) Meeting for each of the eight (8) NIREC Sub-Committees namely;
- i. Research and Planning
- ii. International Relations
- iii. Publicity Policy issues
- iv. Education
- v. Dialogue and Building
The funding of most NIREC activities is handled by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) with support sometimes from Host State Government and donations from some well- meaning Nigerians. The NIREC writes the OSGF or Host State Government (when meeting is outside Abuja) on specific requirements for each quarterly meeting held by NIREC.
AFFILIATIONSNIREC is affiliated to the following bodies
- i. West African Inter-Religious Council (WAIRC)
- ii. African Council for Religious Leaders (ACRL)
- iii. Religions for Peace RfP
PARTNERSHIPNIREC is in partnership with some organization for some specific programs, viz:
- i. UFUK Dialogue
- ii. King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID)
- i. UFUK Dialogue-Peace and dialogue award 2019
- ii. Al-bayan Interfaith Centre-Partner of the year award 2019
- i. Honourary President, Religions for Peace-Rev. Dr. Samson O.A. Ayokunle, President CAN and His Eminence John Cardinal Onaiyeka
- ii. Co-moderator Religions for Peace- Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar min, Sultan of Sokoto.