Clement Adeyi, Osogbo
Former Head of State General Yakubu Gowon (retd) has described Osun State as a role model for other Nigerian states in regards to peaceful coexistence among Nigerians of all backgrounds.
The leader of the Nigeria Prays Movement, who arrived the state on Saturday, had led a prayer for the country through the movement with a view to achieving a peaceful, secure and more united Nigeria.
The former military leader and devout Christian expressed delight at the warm reception accorded him by Governor Gboyega Oyetola, a Muslim, who agreed to host him during the Muslim Eid festival.
Whilst expressing satisfaction with the level of understanding and tolerance in the state, despite differences in religious beliefs, Gowon encouraged other states to follow suit.
Gowon said that among the states of the predominantly Yoruba South West that he and his Nigeria Prays Movement team had been to, Osun State stood out.
He appreciated God for blessing the state with the governor who believes in the efficacy of prayer.
Gowon maintained that Nigerians needs to develop a sense of unity, love and respect, adding that his greatest wish was for Nigeria to continue to dwell in unity and peace.
He thanked the governor for the warm reception and prayed that God supports him in his determination to take the state to greater heights.
“I am delighted to tell everyone that Osun is a role model state for other states in the country because it has attributes that must be adopted by all to have peaceful co-existence,” the former head of state said.
“All the religious bodies – Christianity, Islam and traditional religion – are clearly playing out their roles here as prayer warriors for the good of the state, for the good of Nigeria, and for the good of mankind.
“Honestly, among the states that we have been to as Nigeria Prays Movement, Osun State stands out. We were well received, and we saw your good character on display. The governor told me he is a man of prayers and he believes in prayers.
“I can confirm the manifestation of his prayers and strong belief in God on the life of the people. You certainly made us to feel very loving towards one another and I will say thank you very much indeed.
“Honestly, I think I have fallen in love with Osun State and its people, and this is where I see the faith in Nigeria that Muslims and Christians as well as traditionalists go hand-in-hand to celebrate one another in truth, by bringing a sense of unity, love and respect for one another.
“Nigeria needs this more than anything else. My prayer has always been: let Nigeria continue to dwell in peace and unity.”
Governor Oyetola said he felt honoured to welcome the former head of state.
He described the retired general as a man of history that could not be forgotten, adding that National Youth Service Corps was established during his time as the country’s military leader and that the scheme has fostered national unity
He commended Gowon for serving Nigeria well to ensure development and unity.
He said that the retired general had continued to demonstrate great statesmanship because, even after leaving office, he still had the love of Nigeria at heart as expressed in his establishment of the Nigeria Prays Movement, a major spiritual body in the country.
The governor maintained that God resides in Osun because, according to him, Nigeria’s foremost spiritual leaders hail from the state. He disclosed that the decision by government to return History as a subject to the school syllabus would avail the younger generations of the opportunity of learning about the history of great men like Gowon, particularly on his role in leading Nigeria to victory during the country’s 3-year civil war in the late 1960s.
Oyetola, who appreciated Gowon for tagging Osun a model to other states of the federation in terms of living together in peace and unity, called on the people to eschew violence and maintain peace and unity.
He added that Osun thrived on prayers of which he the governor has been beneficiary.