The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community worldwide, through its Muslim Television Ahmadiyya, MTA Africa has honoured Dr John Cardinal Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, a distinguished Nigerian of great honour and impeccable character, with an International Peace Award, at the Kempinski Hotel, Gold Coast City, Ghana.
The renowned Catholic Priest, Peace Negotiator and founder Cardinal Onaiyekan Foundation for Peace, a non- governmental organisation, in Nigeria, won the prestigious award among other nominees in Africa, as a result of his commitment to peace efforts and initiatives in Nigeria and across the African continent.
Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih V, gave his blessings to the award which attracted a cash prize of #1,000, GBP, (One thousand Pounds Sterling), with a certificate and plaque. He is represented at the award ceremony by Sir Dr. Iftikar Ayas Sahib, (Order of British Empire, OBE) President Human Rights, United Kingdom.
The award was presented after the first Ahmadiyya Peace Conference in Africa, featuring religious leaders, academic and media representatives across Africa. The Amir Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, Dr Mashuud Fashola, led the Nigerian delegation.
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community globally organises International Peace Awards in line with his motto of “Love for All Hatred for None”, in the countries where it is established.
Dr John Cardinal Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, polyglot, is a Co Chairman of Nigeria Inter religious Council, NIREC, a government and religious body meant for inter-religious dialogue and most especially charged with responsibility of finding permanent solution to the Boko Haram insurgence in the North East of Nigeria. He has been on National television severally to condemn killings of innocent Nigerians by the Boko Haram group describing thier activities as “barbaric and inhuman “.
MTA Africa Peace Conference Committee noted that “as a Co –Chair African Council of Religious leaders – Religious for Peace Conference, Dr John Cardinal Olorunfemi Onaiyekan style of intervention in religious and communal crisis resolution covers, religious persuasions, and town hall peace meetings between the warring leaders engaged brutal killings across three states, Plateau, Benue and Taraba in the North Central Nigeria.
Cardinal Onaiyekan used Media advocacy to underscore the need for the Nigerian Government to show more commitment in addressing issues of social justice in order to achieve lasting peace in the country.
In 2015 National election, he played a pivotal role with some elders in dousing the political tension which enveloped Nigeria by ensuring that Presidential candidates signed a memorandum of understanding on peace during and after the election. This led to the peaceful handover of power by the then ruling party- Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to an opposition party – All Progressives Congress, APC for the first time in the history of Nigeria.”
Lately, Onaiyekan instituted a Fellowship Programme on “Interreligious Dialogue and Mediation, where 36 fellows, including 16 Muslim leaders and youths were trained in the art of conflict resolutions and peace building initiatives among ethnic groups, religious bodies through the Cardinal Onaiyekan Foundation for Peace.
He holds a PhD degree in Divinity – Sacred Scripture in 1973 and became the Arch Bishop of Abuja in 1994, President of Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) 2000 and former President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), June 2007 to 2010.
Dr John Cardinal Olorunfemi Onaiyekan has been recognised for his work and receive many awards including Pax Christi International’s in 2012 Peace Laureate, Peace Award from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Nigeria in 2017.
Due to the National assignment of the Inter Religious Council in Abuja, Cardinal Olorunfemi Onaiyekan could not be at the MTA Africa –Peace Award in person but his representative Reverend Father Innocent Jooji, travelled from Abuja to receive the award on his behalf.