The governor of Osun State, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, has again preached religious tolerance, harmony and accommodation among various religionists, with a view to ensuring promotion of development in the country.
He spoke in Osogbo, the state capital, on Monday while receiving the officials of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrimage Commission in his office, saying that the issue of religion was a sensitive one that any responsible government should give everyone free hands to practise.
The governor said: “Nigeria is a multi-religious country, though the Muslims would want you to know that they are Muslims and Christians would want you to know they are Christians, but the traditional religious are the ones I believe that are most formidable, because 50 per cent of Muslims believe in African traditional religion and the same thing goes for Christians.
“Should we all understand these, the unnecessary conflicts we either consciously or unconsciously generate, as if our own faith is the one in existence in Nigeria, would not be there. If we are conscious of the fact that traditional religion takes the largest part of religious believers, we will limit our attention in saying our own religion is superior to the others”, Aregbesola noted.
Stating the commitment of his administration in ensuring harmony among different religionists, the governor added: “Whoever is in government should give high premium to the issue of religion, because religion is a faith issue; it is not easy to analyse and when issues are related to such un-analysable facts, if you are not demanding tragedy and disaster, you should encourage all on their own desires.
“For that reason, we, as a government must encourage absolute freedom to practise religions that are acceptable to individuals. So, we see you as a partner in our effort to build the just, unique, spiritually-balanced society. Each of the religions has its clear definition of spirituality and once we all understand this and come to a clear acceptance of maturity of being tolerant of others, there will not be religious conflict”, he noted.
Aregbesola however promised that his administration would do the best it could to encourage willing Christians to participate in the pilgrimage and ensure that it does what is expected to make this year’s pilgrimage easier, successful, enjoyable, beneficial and stress-free.
Explaining the benefit of Jerusalem pilgrimage to government, the Chairman of the commission, Reverend Nicholas Okwu, said that the pilgrimage would assist in the reformation of the people of the state, a situation, which, he noted, would make the people easily governable to the government.
He then called on the state government to make efforts at ensuring that this year’s Jerusalem pilgrims from the state were increased for the benefit of the people of the state.