Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, on Wednesday, declared that starting from next year, the government would declare Hijrah holiday in line with the yearnings of the Muslim community in the state.
Makinde, who made the declaration during the celebration of 2021 Mawlud Nabiyy, held at the Remembrance Arcade of the Government House, Agodi, Ibadan, stressed the need for the Muslim faithful and non-Muslims as well to continue to peacefully coexist.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, indicated that the governor equally declared that the state will always rise above the antics of perpetrators of evil, whom he said had tried all they could to plunge the state into chaos.
According to Governor Makinde, only peaceful and harmonious coexistence would lead the state and the country to greater heights.
He implored Muslim faithful in the state to emulate the peaceful way of life of the Prophet Muhammad by following his legacies, charging all residents of the state to live in oneness and be their brothers’ keeper.
On the request for Mawlud Nabbiyy holidays in Oyo State, the governor said the request would be attended to at the appropriate time, saying: “Some are saying the governor does not want us to be celebrating Mawlud Nabbiy. That is not true. Last year, I believe we missed it. And when S.A Islamic Affairs came to meet me that it will be nice to hold the programme this year, even despite the COVID-19 pandemic, I gave him the go-ahead.
“We agreed on the date to choose, which would be convenient for our Imams, Alfas and others and that was why we chose today. I even told him that it is better we are late on it than not holding the event at all. But now, we know what is right and the promise is, from this point forward, we will be celebrating the event at the right time.
On the need to declare public holiday for Hijra celebration, the governor said that the discussion has been extensive and that he had at a time summoned his Special Adviser on Economy and the Director-General of Oyo State Investment and Public, Private Partnership Agency (OYSIPPA) to brief him on the need for the holiday, he said that the matter could not be concluded at the end of the first year.
He, however, added that since the Aare Musulumi had raised the matter again, and following his consultation, which indicated that it was the wish of the people, he would declare the holiday from next year.
“For the first year, we could not have a landing. So, we continued with that discussion but since the Aare of Musulumi asked for it and because this is a government you put in place, we will be observing Hijra as a public holiday in Oyo State," he said.
Governor Makinde urged everyone in the state to contribute their quota to surmounting challenges of insecurity facing the state, calling on them not to exercise fear, as the government is doing everything it can to make the state secure and move it forward.
In his address of welcome, the Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Makinde, Mr. Mojeed Mogbonjubola, admonished Muslim faithful to emulate Prophet Muhammad, stating that the prophet used his lifetime to propagate and preach peace.
He further implored all residents of the state to support Governor Makinde efforts at promoting peaceful coexistence in the state.
Similarly, Sheik Adio Akinlapa, who delivered the sermon, called on both Muslim faithful and believers of other religions to support the Makinde administration in achieving success.
Akinlapa equally commended the present administration in the state for its tolerance to all religious bodies in the state, saying: "For those who are angry about Makinde becoming the governor of Oyo State, they have missed it. God made this possible and the people must accept what the Lord has said so they can have rest of mind. Any house that does not have a good foundation will be destroyed in no time.
“Any religion that does not give us the teaching on how to live a good life is not a religion. Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo ethnic groups are all the same. We the masses are like phones, a phone without a SIM card is valueless no matter how expensive it is. And the government can be likened to a SIM card that brings out the value of a phone. What I am saying in essence is, we need to live peacefully with ourselves.”
The celebration featured several events including Quranic recitations and special prayer sessions for those at the helm of affairs in the state and the country.
Government functionaries that attended the celebration included the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Olubamiwo Adeosun; Head of Service, Alhaja Ololade Agboola and Chief of Staff, Chief Bisi Ilaka, among others.
Other dignitaries in attendance were the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III; Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji, Aje Ogungunniso 1; Chief Imam of Ibadanland, Sheikh Ganiyu Agbotomokekere and the former state chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Benjamin Akanmu as well as the Chairman of the Oyo State Pilgrims Welfare Board, Christian Wing, Bishop Ademola Moradeyo among others.