Leadership (Abuja)

23 November 2012

Nigeria: Northern Governors, Islamic Leaders Praise Obasanjo

Northern governors, Islamic leaders and other prominent Nigerians on Friday extolled the virtues of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, describing him as an epitome of religious tolerance.

They spoke in Abeokuta at the Foundation-Laying and Fund Raising ceremony for the completion of the Baytus-Salam Central Mosque of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL).

The governors, who attended the ceremony included Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto, Usman Dandingari, Kebbi, Musa Kwankwaso of Kano State and Ibrahim Shehu Shema of Katsina State.

The Islamic leaders at the occasion included Alhaji Alao Arisekola, the Are Musulumi of Yoruba land, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria and Chief Imams of various states in the south-western region.

Arisekola, the Chairman of the occasion, described former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the chief promoter of the project, as a Nigerian who lived above tribal and religious sentiments.

"With this singular act, Obasanjo has demonstrated that he is a Nigerian with a large heart and an elder statesman, whose political stature transcends religious or tribal leaning."

Wamako, who coordinated the fund raising segment, described the former President as an epitome of peace and harmony, whose religious tolerance was worthy of emulation.

The host governor, Sen. Ibikunle Amosun, in his remarks, lauded Obasanjo for conceptualising the idea of having a mosque and a church within the OOPL.

He said that Obasanjo had demonstrated that peaceful co-existence was possible if Nigerians could be tolerant and accommodating, irrespective of religious or tribal inclination.

"This is a clear demonstration that we can co-exist regardless of our religion, culture, tribe or language."

Obasanjo, in his remarks, said the idea was to provide a state which transcended religious, cultural or tribal bounds.

He said the mosque would have facilities such as the Imam's residence and an Islamic school, adding: "the more you know about your God, the better would you be to serve him."

"If you are religious, you will be a good citizen because religion imposed a responsibility on us to be good citizens," Obasanjo added.

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