Nigeria’s Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola recently visited Iwo, the headquarters of Osun West Senatorial District, in continuation of his Stakeholders’ Engagement in the State of Osun on the events of the nationwide #EndSARS protests and their aftermath. ISMAEEL UTHMAN reports the activities that played out during and behind the scenes of the events.
To say that Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola is still much more popular and loved by the people of the State of Osun is an understatement. His popularity was reaffirmed on two different occasions: at Ijebu-Ijesa, and Iwo, headquarters of Oriade and Iwo local government areas of the state respectively, where he addressed the people in congregations on the effect of the #EndSARS protests. Aregbesola, at the Ijebu-Ijesa event which took place at the Cathedral of St. Matthew’s, received Episcopal Ecumenical Award from the Ijesa-North Diocese of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion in the state. He also bagged Award of Excellence from Jama’atu Ta’awunil Muslimeen Society of Nigeria at the Iwo event that took place on December 5, 2020.
Before his arrival in Iwo, residents of the odidere town had been patiently waiting to catch a glimpse of the former governor of the state. The news of Aregbesola’s visit to Iwo had filtered round the town, as commercial motorcycle operators, popularly called okada riders, market men and women, students and other residents of the town passed the information to one another. The excitement on the faces of the people could not be hidden while expecting the arrival of the minister.
Eventually, the august visitor entered the town, in company of his aides, in a white Coaster bus through Ori-Eru. A jubilant crowd welcomed Aregbesola and from there, it was snail-walk mode for the Minister’s convoy, as okada riders, pedestrians, among other residents of the community, led the former governor of the state to the Iwo Town Hall, venue of the event. The situation resulted into traffic congestion, as vehicular movement was halted for about 30 minutes.
Before getting to the Iwo Town Hall, Aregbesola’s convoy ran into another mammoth crowd waiting to welcome him at the Osogbo junction end of the town. The excited people, among who were members of the Oranmiyan, a socio-cultural cum political group, led by their Director-General, Mr. Sodiq Olayide, welcomed Aregbesola with pomp, as they sang and danced while advancing the hall. The famous Iwo roundabout and adjourning roads stood still. The people had occupied the access roads to full capacity to celebrate Aregbesola. The young and old residents of the community struggled to see Aregbesola. Security operatives had hectic moments in controlling the crowd at the entrance gate to the hall. They were able to lead the Minister into the hall eventually.
Aregbesola’s presence changed the pervading atmosphere in and around the hall. The waiting congregation and spectators in and around the one-storey-building hall gave Aregbesola a standing ovation. For about 10 minutes, the hall became unsettled as the jubilant crowd was shouting Aregbe, Symbol, Ogbeni Tia. The show of love for the minister was striking. The participants were in joyous mood, as Aregbesola responded to the show of love from them with his usual two-finger salute waving style.
Mounting the podium, Aregbesola raised his right hand to greet the people in the right and left direction of the hall. He thereafter raised his two energetic hands to greet the entire people in the hall. His action inspired another round of positive reaction from the people. They could not keep calm while praising the friendly and lively attitude of the minister.
A popular Islamic Cleric, Sheik Muideen Bello, who delivered lecture at the event, acknowledged Aregbesola’s popularity among the people. At the introductory part of his lecture, he said: “I greet you the Minister, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. It is clear that God loves you and the people love you because when you entered this hall, all the people were shouting your name and the hall became unsettled for a while. What you are seeing today is a reflection of your actions when you were the governor of the state.”
Standing to give his remarks, Aregbesola thrilled the audience with his usual Islamic prelude. Aregbesola’s core of message was love: love for God, love for humanity and love for Nigeria. Aregbesola also spoke on the Coronavirus pandemic.
Aregbesola urged Nigerians to go about the fast-approaching festive period with caution, saying that Coronavirus pandemic is still very much on. Aregbesola said that Nigeria could not afford to return to the peak of the COVID-19, urging Nigerians not lower their guards as index cases are being recorded on daily basis.
The former governor of the State of Osun urged Nigerians to adhere to the Holy Prophet’s teachings that state that when there is an outbreak of epidemic in a particular place, nobody should go there and the people in the affected place should not also go out until the epidemic subsides.
He said: “Coronavirus is still very much with us. We can’t afford to return to when the virus was at its peak in the country. That is why we must observe physical distancing and the use of our face masks always. Cases are still being recorded everyday. During this festive period, we must be cautioned. We should obey the Holy Prophet’s teachings that say when there is an outbreak of epidemic somewhere, we should not leave there and those outside should not go to the place until the epidemic is over. We must take responsibility for our lives.”
Aregbesola also said the President was aware of the hardship facing the people; which was occasioned by the pandemic and #EndSARS protests, assuring the people that life would be more abundant for them in no distant time.
“The President is aware of the hardship facing the citizens of the country. This was caused by the pandemic and the #EndSARS protests which erupted in many states of the federation. The President is doing all his best and I can assure you that very soon, all will be well and we will be happy again”, he said.
Aregbesola left the hall to commission Iwo Symbol of Islam Mosque, built by the Jama’atu Ta’awunil Muslimeen Society of Nigeria, led by Sheik Daood Imran Molasan.
Also at the event was the incumbent Governor of the state, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola and some members of his cabinet, the Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrasheed Adewale Akanbi, Telu I, members representing state constituencies in Iwo zone at the Osun State House of Assembly, among others.
Aregbesola was warmly received by the people of Iwo and Ijebu-Ijesa.
While Aregbesola’s convoy was making its entry into Ijebu-Ijesa through the Iloko axis, some residents, led by an aged man, trooped out and started shouting ‘Aregbesola….ori e wa nibe. Oo lota. Oti s’orire. Osun a dara. Ati miss yin losun, kaabo.’; literarily translating to: “Aregbesola, you are our person. You don’t have enemies. You are a fortunate being. Osun shall progress. We have missed you so much in Osun. Welcome.” The excited residents rushed at the bus conveying Aregbesola, who was also waving at them in his usual style.