Muslim faithful, scholars and preachers across the South-West on Thursday converged on Ibadan to witness the conferment of the award of ‘Most Equitable Governor in the History of Oyo State’ on Governor Abiola Ajimobi.
The award was presented by the Muslim Community of Oyo State for what they called the governor’s promotion of religious harmony through equitable, fair and just relationship with Christians, Muslims and traditionalists across the state.
The event was witnessed by the Muslim Umah of Southwest (MUSWEN), led by the Secretary, Prof. Dawud Noibi; Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Edo and Delta States, Alhaji Dawud Akinola; Chief Imam of Ibadanland, Sheikh Abul-Ganiyy Abubakar; popular Islamic preacher, Sheikh Muideen Bello and Prof. Kamil Oloso, among others.
Speaking on the essence of the award, the Chairman of the Muslim Community of Oyo State, Alhaji Kunle Sanni, said that the governor had proved to be sensitive to the yearnings and aspirations of all citizens.
He said that the Muslim community decided to honour the governor in appreciation of his ‘unprecedented disposition’ to legitimate demands by Muslims when compared with some of his predecessors.
Sanni made particular reference to the declaration of first Muharam, which is the beginning of the Islamic calendar, as public holiday and celebration of Maolud Nabiyy which is the birth of Prophet Muhammed.
He also listed the decision of the governor against the return of mission schools, permission of wearing of hijab by Muslim pupils, breaking of fast with a large population of Muslims during Ramadan as part of the reasons for the honour.
Sanni said: “When we ask that our Muslim girls be allowed to wear hijab, we did not say Christian girls should be forced to adorn same, in spite of the fact that the mother of Jesus (Christ) and Catholic Sisters also wear hijab.
“The day we went to the governor on the hijab proposal, he did not think twice before granting our request. That was 10 years after two Muslim governors rejected our appeal. May Allah bless the soul of one of them. The other is still alive.
“Since January 1 is the beginning of the Christian year imposed on us by the Colonialists, the governor has made history by righting the wrongs that had been done against Muslims for ages.
“The governor has succeeded in maintaining religious peace in Oyo State where his predecessors have failed. That is why he is being honoured today. May Allah elevate him beyond his imagination.’’
Also applauding Ajimobi for advancing religious harmony, Bello urged him to ensure the emergence of a successor that would sustain his legacy projects and complete any project he might leave behind.
He said: “Lagos is working today because Governor Akinwumi Ambode started from where former Governor Babatunde Fashola stopped by ensuring the completion of all the projects he inherited.
“I want to beg you (Ajimobi) not to install anybody who will not sustain your legacy or abandon any project you may leave behind.
“You are a listening governor unlike some of your predecessors. Now that they are out of office they have ruined the chances of any of their family members to aspire to such position again because of their maladministration and incompetence.’’
Other speakers, including the Chief Imam of Akobo Central Mosque, Sheikh Abibullah Buhari and Are Musulumi commended the governor for his efforts at promoting good governance and peaceful co-existence among religious adherents.
In his acceptance speech, Governor Ajimobi expressed appreciation to the Muslim community for finding him worthy of the award.
He said: “This is symbolic because Muslims don’t just give this type of award to anybody. When I was contesting for governorship, I told God that if I would not use the position to worship Him and serve humanity, He should not allow me to win.
“I thank God that what we are doing today is a celebration of answered prayer. I’m what I’m today because God has destined it. I want to appeal to the people of the state to always thank God for his good deeds.
“I want to also advise that we should always forgive any wrong done to us by our brothers and sisters in order to have our prayers answered.”