The Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, yesterday described as ‘patently false’ and ‘laughable,’ allegations that he was working towards Islamising the state and seceding from the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In an address to the people of the state, Aregbesola said: “There is a purported security report alleging that I am working towards Islamising the State of Osun and plotting to secede from Nigeria. The first is patently false while the second is laughable.”
Pointing out that Nigeria is a secular state, in which the people are adherents of diverse religious faiths, the governor declared, “I have never hidden the fact that I am a Muslim. This is within my constitutional right as a Nigerian. This notwithstanding, within my own family, there are Christians who practise their choice religion freely, without let or hindrance. It is therefore impracticable for any religious group to lord it over anyone, or for a particular government to Islamise the state as alleged.”
To confirm the warm relationship between him and prominent Christian leaders in the country, the governor said: “It is a reflection of our openness, fairness, accommodation and impartiality that prominent Christian religious leaders, including Pastors Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Mathew Ashimolowo of Kingsway International Christian Church in London, Prophet Samuel Abiara of Christ Apostolic Church, the Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Dominion), Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, Prophet Gabriel Fakeye of the Cherubim and Seraphim Church, Ayo ni o, among others, have visited me at the Government House and commended our administration for promoting religious harmony in the state.”
On the issue of hijab in schools, he explained that it came up in the last quarter of last year “and it was amicably resolved to the knowledge of all security agencies.”
He also commented on the school uniform, explaining that “the school uniform in our public schools is part of our well-thought-out policy on education reform. We are constructing state-of-the-art buildings for our schools. We are also introducing free meals in elementary schools. Computer tablets will be given free to our senior secondary school pupils. It is therefore an infernal mischief straight from the pit of hell for this lofty scheme to be portrayed as an Islamising agenda,” he said.
On the issue of crest, he said, “Our crest is a reflection of our history and proud heritage. Indeed, all the states of Nigeria had their separate crests until 1975 when the military embarked on a more unitary state policy. Even now, other states and regions have their emblems, crests, flags and slogans.”
Reassuring his people, the governor said, “What you are seeing is the handiwork of an overzealous and misguided leadership of a security agency that has mixed up allegiance to the constitution, the Nigerian people and their welfare with the partisan interest of a transient occupier of state office. This intelligence, we must assure you, has been in our possession and we have duly notified President Goodluck Jonathan, who we believe has sensed the urgency in the matter and is working to correct this embarrassing disposition of a tiny leadership of a federal agency capable of causing chaos and destabilisation. The shenanigan will pass,”
Recalling that the eight years preceding the emergence of his administration were characterised by “brigandage, social upheaval, insecurity of life and property, indiscriminate arrests and detention on false charges, and a virtual state of siege,” the governor said his administration has resolved to promote peace in spite of all odds.
As a result of this resolve, “All fears are gone; the exiles are returning home; and the economy of the state is growing in leaps and bounds,” he said, warning that “If there is any threat to peace, we should look in the direction of a party whose national vice chairman vowed recently to make our state ungovernable. This is not going to happen. Our people have vowed not to allow themselves to be provoked. Their collective resolve is to enjoy all aspects of freedom, including freedom from fear, and live in peace and harmony with one another.”