The writer says Governor Rauf Aregbesola has no plans to Islamise Osun State.
For the sake of those who are quick to criticize and call people names before authenticating what is written, let me stress that I am writing this article as an intermediary between the government of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and Christians in the State of Osun who have been unhappy that Christianity seems to have been relegated in favour of the other religions.
This article becomes more necessary at this point because of the proposed inter-denominational worship centre to be built by the government of the State of Osun and the criticisms that have trailed the project, notably from a prominent politician and some Christians in the state. The centre, to be named ‘Open Heaven Worship Centre,’ would be sited at both Odo Iju and Ibodi communities in Atakumosa West Local Government.
I believe that the agitation of the Christian community and their leadership in the state for some time now, most notably through the Christian Association of Nigeria, especially after the implementation of the school reclassification policy by the government isn’t to antagonise the government, but to advocate for a fair treatment of Christians in the state since government is for everybody and for all religions.
It is for this same reason that I would like to advise Christians not to play into the hands of some ignorant people who want to use religion as a tool for politics by claiming that the state government plans to Islamize the state and that’s why Christianity has been relegated to the background. It is our right as the governed in the state to ask the government to explain the conditions for the controversial Sukuk Bond, but never a reason for us to assume that it is this bond that the government will use to Islamize the state.
There is more to Sukuk than we know, and I’ll just advise that we should take time to research why the United Kingdom has allowed Sukuk and South Africa is also planning to, before some people capitalize on our ignorance to tell us what is not about the bond. We must learn to fight from an informed perspective, so we don’t fight what we ought not to fight.
It becomes more surprising and ironical to know that some of these elements who allege that the state is being Islamized are the same ones castigating the government for choosing to build the inter-denominational worship centre for Christians. They claim it is an attempt by the government to loot the treasury of the state, and some even claim that’s not what Christians in the state need at the moment. It may be true or false that it’s not what the Christians in the state need, but what then does the Christian community want?
My opinion is that even if this is not the major thing we require from government at the moment, it does not mean we should discredit the attempt of the government to do something noble for us and also discredit the claim that the Christians in the state are not important.
I believe it is an olive branch from the government that we should accept and use as a foundation to wisely present some of our yearnings to the state government. One of the reasonable agitations I know of is the call to have a Pentecost Day on June 9, 2014 that will be recognized by the government and declared a public holiday.
Since this government assumed office, it has recognized and declared holidays for Hijrah (the commencement of the Muslim calendar year) and also Isese Day for traditional worshippers. I believe it is not too much if we also ask the government to set a day aside to celebrate what is regarded as the start of the new life that Christians enjoy, the 50th day after the resurrection of Jesus, and the day the Holy Spirit was poured out on God’s people.
The concept of the Pentecost Day is a means of complementing the Omoluabi concept of the state government because anyone who can successfully make use of the fruit of the Spirit will definitely live the life that is expected of an Omoluabi. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, and there’s no better way to live by the Omoluabi creed than to have all these qualities embedded in a man.
As I conclude, I would implore that as Christians, we should be able to discourage those who want to use the name of Christians to score cheap political points, and those who want to ignite the fire of religious intolerance in our state. We are brothers and sisters, and there will be times that we may disagree on certain issues, it does not mean we should not be able to sit on a table and iron it out.
Christians have always been peace loving people and not known to be violent, especially in a peaceful state like the State of Osun. Therefore if we have issues with some policies and we voice our discontent, some people should not see it as antagonism towards government, but an effort to ensure that the government succeeds the more by ensuring that our interest are not discountenanced.
Government on its part should be more careful whenever policies that may affect some religious interests are to be made, and they should make it a duty to consult widely with all religious leaders so that some opportunists will not use that as a means of sowing a seed of discord among the various religions in the state and by extension, Nigeria. Christians, Muslims and other kinds of religious faithfuls voted for the government of the day. Therefore, the government owes every religion a duty to listen to them and do all to take care of their interests as long as those interests aren’t against the progress of the state.
We are partners in progress and we should continue to see ourselves like that. The motive may not be to start a religious crisis, but government and the religious bodies may unintentionally start that when they don’t weigh the consequences of their actions and statements. I believe every responsible leader will want peace to reign, and our religious leaders are responsible men and women, and our governor is also a responsible man leading a responsible team of men and women.
We are not trouble makers, but peace makers.
God Bless us,
God Bless State of Osun.