The Most Rev. Josiah Idowu-Fearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, has agreed to lead a peace commission in the northern Nigeria state of Kaduna, where he previously served as archbishop. The state has been wracked by violence between rival groups for decades.
“My heart is in Kaduna,” he told Anglican Communion News Service. “This is an opportunity to continue — with government recognition — the work I was doing there. This is where the Lord first gave me the opportunity to be a bridge-builder, where I did my work in conflict prevention and promotion of peace and mutual respect.”
Idowu-Fearon is confident he can lead the commission amid his work as secretary general. He said he has the backing of the Archbishop of Canterbury and of the Rt. Rev. Timothy Yahaya, Bishop of Kaduna.
“I believe my role as secretary general covers all of the countries within the Communion,” he said. “I will still be doing my job as an ambassador for the Communion. The work of reconciliation is part of my job, whether that is within the Communion, with our ecumenical partners, or with people of different religions.”
Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna, told guests gathered for the inauguration of the commission in Kaduna in November that it was a momentous event. He called on people to reject the legacy of violence that has engulfed the state for so long and embrace a culture of peace and tolerance. He praised Idowu-Fearon for “profoundly demonstrating” his love for Kaduna and for his concern that religion not be used as an excuse for violence.
Idowu-Fearon plans to travel to Kaduna every three months to see progress and work with the rest of the four-person commission. Executive vice chair Priscilla Ankut, professor Saleh Momale, and Hajiya Khadija Hawaja Gambo will be full-time commission members.
They will review recommendations by previous bodies set up to defuse tensions in the state and hold talks with a range of stakeholders. The aim will be to look at ideas that will bring an end to violence and create a climate of peace that will encourage development and inward investment.
The commission will work for five years.
“It is not expected to be permanent,” Idowu-Fearon said. “It is hoped that by the time we are due to finish, there will be no need for a peace commission.”
Adapted from ACNS