By Yakubu Bayambe |
Religion, as they say, is the opium of the masses. While it should ordinarily be a means of maintaining peace and harmony since major religious faiths preach peace, religion if not well managed could be a tool of unbridled activism, violence and destruction, principally activated by some nefarious elements to serve some narrow interests.
It is for this reason that political leaders in particular, have to take keen cognizance of this critical issue and work assiduously towards bridging and uniting the populace for peace and progress strengthened by a common understanding.
But the extent this could be achieved will have a direct relationship with the acute perception of adherents of the different faiths in society, either Islam or Christianity, being the two major religious groups in Nigeria. For it is such perception premised on practical steps that dictates to them the convictions that the political leader, in this instance, is purposeful, forthright and fair to all concerned.
The above insights arguably demonstrate the subsisting relationship between Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya and the leadership and members of both the Muslim and Christian communities in Gombe State since he assumed office.
Of course, Governor Yahaya was aware from the outset that the issue of religion, has a critical value in political leadership and management and by extension the mutual working relationship he shares with the generality of the people.
With this background, the governor has actually cultivated both major religions and their leaders to let them understand that he is in the state mainly to lead as an elected leader whose primary interest is the development of Gombe State and indeed the overall benefit of the people without any recourse to partisan religious leaning even when we all know that he is a Muslim by faith.
So far, Governor Yahaya has lived up to expectation as a forthright and fair- minded leader who believes in equity and justice as the basis for religious harmony in any social formation. He understands that he is the governor for all, not a sectional leader and it is a good thing that the people of Gombe State have come to identify him with this characteristic which is making a huge difference in inter-ethnic and religious co-existence.
Besides the importance of democratizing governance which has now culminated in the various policies and programmes leading to a kind of revolution in the basic areas of development like education, health, agriculture, infrastructure especially roads, hospitals, and the laudable tree planting project, the Gombe Goes Green to checkmate effect of climate change, we have also seen clearly that the governor is in the forefront of creating a clement environment for religious harmony in Gombe State with the attendant peace and progress. This is quite instructive because without peace and common understanding, there can hardly be any meaningful development.
A major interpretation of the governor’s sincerity of purpose and realistic leadership in this regard was the recent commissioning of the ultra-modern guest house complex of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Gombe State, which had the governor’s signature in its establishment by virtue of his promise and commitment to the project.
The project was first mooted in January during the usual CAN’s New Year visit to Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya who incidentally was also instrumental to its institutional establishment as Finance commissioner during the Senator Danjuma Goje administration. So the whole idea was not new to the governor who on request acceded to the request and immediately doled out a N25 million capital outlay to carry out the project as a strategic facility and it is gladdening that the guest house has now been completed and commissioned.
“On coming to office in 2019 I swore by the Quran as a Muslim that I shall lead the people with fairness, justice and equity and I believe am doing my best in order to actualize it”, the governor had remarked during the interface with the CAN leaders in January.
At the recent commissioning, the governor reiterated that his administration will continue to cherish and maintain the brotherhood subsisting among the adherents of the two major faiths in the state while emphasizing commitment in providing the necessary support for people to practice their beliefs freely, saying that the essence of leadership is service to humanity.
He also acknowledged the contributions of religious groups in the development of the society and commended CAN for its role in maintaining peace and stability which he described as the fulcrum of sustainable development.
“And let me reiterate that this peace we have in Gombe State is non- negotiable. We cannot afford to throw it away and no matter what the devil will do, God will see us through and we shall maintain our strength in unity and our faith in Him and we believe He will deliver us at the point of need”.
Governor Inuwa Yahaya described the commissioning of the CAN Guest House as an important milestone in the development of the Gombe CAN centre, congratulating the Christian community in the state for the opportunity and the gift that came from God.
He elaborated:”As a party to the development of the CAN Centre during the Danjuma Goje administration, I will continue to remain steadfast to its growth and development.
As a leader, I am aware that the state can only be a complete unit if the interests of all citizens are taken into consideration. And these are my watch words always.
“If you are looking for a place that you feel secure, you come here. If you are looking for a place that you can meditate and relate with your God as a Christian this is a place to be. So development of this place to the highest level is something that we need to pursue and cherish, I will personally be happy to see the CAN Guest House blossoms to be among the best in the country”.