Traditional Religion Worshippers Association of Nigeria, Oyo State branch, has described a statement credited to the Chief Missioner of Nasrul–Lahi-l-Fathih Society of Nigeria (NASFAT), Imam Abdul-Azeez Onike, as reckless, divisive and lacking in qualities of a good spiritual leader.
Onike had in a recent interview said that granting public holidays to the traditional worshippers is an invitation to chaos in the country. The Muslim cleric also said traditional worshippers are not united, as they have no leadership structure, adding that human rights of citizens will be infringed upon if government grants holiday to traditional worshippers.
But the traditional worshippers in a statement issued over the weekend, and signed by its state Chairman, Adefabi Dasola and Secretary, Dr. Fakayode Fayemi Fatunde, warned the Missioner to be wary of utterances that could lead the country to disunity.
The group noted that claims made by Onike was a figment of his imagination and a carry-over of an age-long immersion of hatred for other religions, instilled in the Missioner from his youthful age.
The traditionalists argued that the essence of holiday to traditional religion worshippers is to celebrate with each other and people from other religions and not to use it to restrict movements or cause chaos.
“It is very stupefying that such statement, reckless and divisive as it is could come from someone as an Imam. We, in the traditional religion are peace-lovers; we are not the one causing crisis in the North Eastern Nigeria, as our religion is not against western education and the doctrine of human right.
“The likes of the NASFAT Missioner have lost substance in the issues facing our country today and are ready to cause aversion among religions. What is his take on the state of our economy? What has he to say to the daily rising number of killings in the North by Boko Haram and bandits? Does he know of the emigration of medical personnel abroad over unstable future, caused by religious fanatics like himself, who would rather goad incompetent leaders on?
“We urge people that are working day and night to make peaceful coexistence of Nigerians possible to warn the Missioner not to add religious crisis to the current problems our nation is facing. He should be seen preaching love, unity and religious tolerance and not to be gallivanting about the superiority of one religion above the other,” the statement said.
They also described the action of some of the South West governors who are yet to declare public holiday for traditional worshippers as unfortunate, saying that the average politician knows that in election, just one vote is important for victory.
The traditional worshippers said that every Yoruba traditional home has one or more deity before the advent of Christianity and Islam.
“The fact that we do not advertise our religion like Christians will do with Cross or Bible and Muslims with Quran and ‘Tesbiyh’ does not mean we do not have appreciable population. Politicians also know the value of number and the fact that no one individual is disposable when it comes to election, they should know that in every five Yoruba persons, there is a traditionalist,” the group added.