The Ondo State governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, has appealed to Nigerians to see religion as a unifying factor rather than a doctrine that is meant to divide the country.
Akeredolu who stated this during the visit of the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, and his entourage to the his office in Alagbaka, Akure, the State Capital on Monday, urged Nigerians to look beyond their religious differences and give importance to the unity of this country.
Abubakar was invited to the State by the Deji of Akure kingdom, Oba Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade Aladelusi, to deliver this year Ulefunta Festival Public Lecture held at the Auditorium of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, (FUTA).
He was accompanied to the Governor’s office by the Oluwo of Iwo land, Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi, Osemawe of Ondo, Oba Victor Kiladejo, Orangun of Oke-Ila, Oba Adedokun Abolarin, Waziri of Sokoto, Prof. Aishatu Madawaki among others.
Akeredolu said he was glad that immediately the Sultan arrived the State Capital on Sunday, he held a meeting with the state religious leaders under the auspices of the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council on the need to shun religious crisis.
According to the governor, “I must appreciate the fact that you had the opportunity, sir, to attend a meeting with our state religious leaders on how to form amity among religions because here, particularly in Ondo State, and most parts of southern Nigeria, a number of families, if not most families, have Christians and Muslims co-existing as family members.
“Also, we have husbands and wives belonging to different religions. And usually, it is easier for us to point to our leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who is an Alhaji and his wife, a Pastor in RCCG.
“When we were growing up here as children, we celebrate Muslim festivals with our friends. We would go to their houses and eat in the same bowl. During our own festivals as Christians, they would come to us and they would even sow dresses and we wouldn’t even know the difference.
“This has changed. But I am sure that we will get back sooner to embrace ourselves because we are one and religion should not divide us
“Hausa and our people have lived together for a very long time. When we have one or two security problems, I am of the opinion that they are not with those who have been living with us.
“They are with those who are just strangers. Even those living with us don’t know them. Those living with us are peaceful and they have become part of us. Unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable.”
The governor, however, described the visit of the Sultan as a golden handshake across the Niger that will be cherished for a long time in the state.
Speaking earlier, the Sultan of Sokoto said he accepted to be in Akure to deliver the lecture because of the security challenges ravaging the nation.
He noted that it is the responsibility of all Nigerians to come together to fight the demons, extremists, and criminals among the people of the country, flush them out of the system and make the good ones continue to live their lives the way they want.
Abubakar praised Akeredolu for transforming the state within a short time and urged the Governor to continue to do more in the interest of the people.
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