Religion is the way of life of people which centered on the belief about a Supreme Being. In most times it is referred to as the opium of the people, as it bothered on do’s and don’t. Nigerians are religious and there are three types that are prominent among the people. Islam and Christianity seems to be more pronounced, nevertheless the traditional religion is being practiced by its faithful. In this interview with Sola Jacobs the President Traditional Religious Worshippers Association in the State of Osun (TRWASO), Oba Olawumi Bamijogbin Alao, the Akire of Ife gives insight into religions harmony and governance of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and lots more
OSDF: What has been the contribution of the traditional worshipper to the governance in the state?
Bamijogbin: Just like any other citizen, we have contributed positively to the economic, political, educational, religious and social life of the state. We are law abiding, we are tax-payers, some of us are civil servants, professionals artisans, farmers, market women, traditional rulers and chiefs.
We mould the behaviour of the people and teach them to have respect for sanity of life. Any genuine traditionalist, will not lie, engage in corrupt practices, involve in crimes or break the law of the land.
Our religion is about our positive values that Africans are noted for and we respect family lives.
OSDF: Why the initiation of Isese Day by the administration of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola?
Bamijogbin: We thank God for the enthronement of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola as the governor of this state in the last seven years and also I commend him for deeming it fit to make right all the wrong that was done to us (traditional worshipers). Eledumare had only used him to foster religious harmony and to make peace reign as it ought to be in the state.
He is a messenger of peace and a peace-loving governor, who will not condone injustice or infringe on people’s right as enshrined in the constitution of Nigeria. For so long, we, the traditional worshippers are being labelled as heathen and so we are concealed to the dustbin of history, whereas faithful of other religion who termed us as heathen also believe in the traditional gods in one way or the other, but this government has harmonised all traditional worshippers in the state, fosters unity among us and other religious bodies in the state. Now, no citizen in the state can say, he or she does not have say in governance as all religious bodies are given recognition and roles to play in the governance.
Asides, I want to commend the prudent, proactive stance, foresight, vision and the doggedness of the governor; Osun State had never been the same in terms of provision of good road network, building of modern schools, opening of rural roads, investment in Agriculture, provision of loans to artisans and market women, good security to attract investors in the state, maintaining peace and harmony among the people of the state and much more.
OSDF: There were cases of kidnapping by human ritualists, who are majorly from your circle as traditionalists, what are you doing as a body to curtail this ugly trend?
Bamijogbin: I want to tell you that all those criminals are not our people, you can check it from their names, they belong to other religious sects. Real traditionalist fears Eledumare, the author of life and the Supreme Being who will call you to account any day.
No deity support criminal activities, or asked you not to respect the value of life. No one must take life, except Olodumare the Supreme Being. A real traditionalist cannot be promiscuous, must not engage in any dubious acts and sorts. In Ogboni sects, which I am also a member, if you are truly Ogboni, you will not do evil, it is a holy cult because the owner of the house whom we profess, “Ogbodu Ora” will catch up with the people. So we are at war with people who use the shade “Traditionalist” to do evil in the state.
The media should partner with the traditionalist as well, any criminal caught either as ritualist or kidnapper, ask him who is the head of his sect i.e. priest and his worship centre. Just as you have in other religion, he must have a place of worship and priest in charge of his worship centre, but you will find out that this kind of people do not have worship centre and priest, so they are fake.
Moreso, the law enforcement agents needs to contact our secretariat in the state, if they arrest any criminal who claimed to be a traditionalist to verify their claims, as they will find out that most of them are not traditionalist but from other religion who disguised as one of us.
However, I want to commend this government for its all inclusive government which granted us freedom of worship and association as traditional worshipper.
But I want the government to develop our pilgrimage centres such as Ifa temples, Oodua groove, Obalufon Akire, Oya, Olokun and other deities grooves. We thank Eledumare for the recognition of Osun groove in Osogbo by United Nation.
By the time our spiritual centres are developed, we could compete favourably with Brazil and Cuba in the area of tourism and revenue generation.