The former president of RECOWA-CERAO who doubles as the Archbishop of Abuja, the capital of Nigeria has declared that the current situation of Easter Coinciding with Ramadan provides a “Profound opportunity” for Interfaith Dialogue in Nigeria and the world at large.

Christians celebrating Easter and Muslims living the Holy Month of Ramadan in Nigeria have been urged to embrace the season as a “profound opportunity” to set aside their differences and realize “greater harmony and cooperation”.

In his 2024 Easter Message, Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama of Nigeria’s Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja says that the season of fasting and celebration challenges both Muslims and Christians, respectively, “to extend a hand of compassion to all.”

“This year, Easter coincides with a unique alignment of faiths as Christian Lent intersects with Muslim Ramadan. This happy coincidence offers a profound opportunity for interfaith dialogue, solidarity, and mutual understanding,” Archbishop Kaigama says.

He adds, “In a country as diverse as Nigeria, characterized by a rich tapestry of cultures and religions, let us seize this moment to foster greater harmony and cooperation among all communities. Together, we can transcend boundaries and so celebrate our shared humanity.”

“Just as we fast, abstain, and pray during Lent, Christians must see it as a call of duty in the spirit of Christ, to empathize with our Muslim neighbors as they observe Ramadan with devotion and self-discipline that we are all very familiar with. Muslims are equally encouraged to do likewise to all people of goodwill,” he further says.

The Nigerian Catholic Archbishop describes Easter as a time to multiply the acts of kindness, generosity and respect for each other, “so that we can cultivate a culture of inclusiveness and unity that transcends religious divides.

“Without this, we cannot even begin to confront the many problems that continue to draw us back in our journey as one nation,” he says.

Archbishop Kaigama goes to invite his compatriots to remember the marginalized, oppressed as well as those experiencing hardship in Africa’s most populous nation.

“As disciples of Christ, we are called to embody His teachings of love and justice by advocating for the vulnerable and the marginalized. Let us strive to be beacons of hope in a world often overshadowed by grief and despair, offering a helping hand to those in need and uplifting the spirit of the downtrodden,” he says.

The Local Ordinary of Abuja since his installation in December 2019 decries the surge in insecurity across various Nigerian States, noting that killings and kidnappings in the West African nation have cast “a long shadow of fear and uncertainty” over the people.

“Many of our people already in the throes of despair, desperately need a hand to lift them,” Archbishop Kaigama says in his 2024 Easter Message titled, “Finding Hope Amidst Adversity”, which he posted on his Facebook page on March 34.

He adds, “The recent upsurge in abductions across the country but especially in Borno and Kaduna states, the mindless killings in Benue and Taraba states have again cast a long shadow of fear and uncertainty over our land.”

The Nigerian Catholic Church leader says he finds the displacement of people across the country “heartbreakingly” and “a major setback” that needs to be reversed to restore families that have been torn apart.

According to the Catholic Archbishop, who started his Episcopal Ministry in April 1995 as Bishop of Nigeria’s Jalingo Diocese, various communities in embattled Nigerian States have been left reeling from the trauma of the attacks they have experienced.

In his message of hope to communities affected by insecurity in Nigeria, he says, “As we mourn the loss again of innocent lives and pray for the safe return of those who have been taken, let us hold fast to the hope that justice will prevail and that peace will be restored to all troubled families and communities.”

Archbishop Kaigama encourages leaders in Nigeria to ensure justice and fairness to all “as the only viable way for allowing healing to start.” 

“I urge you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, to hold fast to the hope that Easter brings,” he says, and adds, “Though the road seems long and difficult, let us take comfort in the certain knowledge that we do not walk alone. For Christ is risen, and his light shines brightly in the darkness, guiding us ever onward towards a brighter tomorrow.”