This Day (Lagos)

28 April 2013

Nigeria: Aregbesola - Love, Respect for Values Necessary for Religious Harmony

The Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, has called for tolerance, forbearance, love and accommodation among people of all faiths even in the face of persecution and harassment.

Aregbesola, who was the special guest of honour at the centenary convention of the Nigerian Baptist Convention held in Osun, made the call even as he urged the congregation to transfer to the nation the demonstration of love and affinity.

The call also came on a day Aregbesola, a devout Muslim, was pronounced an Evangelist of the Baptist Faith and conferred with a doctorate degree of the Nigerian Baptist Institute by the President, Nigerian Baptist Convention, Reverend Supo Ayokunle.

Aregbesola, who led all the members of Osun State Executive Council to the convention, appealed for change of attitude from adherents of all religions by strictly imbibing the doctrine of Jesus Christ.

He said Nigeria will be a new nation on earth if love takes the centre stage in all religions.

The governor quoted from the Holy Bible Luke chapter 3 verses 4-6 and expressed appreciation to the Nigerian Baptist Convention for spiritual and material blessings brought to the state through the centenary convention.

The governor attributed the pervading religious peace and harmony in the state to the understanding and respect for the values holding people of all faiths together.

He averred that people hold these values in high esteem in defiance of the divisive antics of some demagogues, who exploit religious differences to generate crisis.

The governor equally commended the Nigerian Baptist Convention for its intervention in the education sector, a sector, he said, is very pivotal to his administration.

He said that leaders of faiths in the state play crucial roles in fostering this regime of peaceful coexistence, noting that government is equally complementing the efforts of the religious leaders in deepening the values that bind the people.

"The show and demonstration of love without discrimination that Jesus Christ came, lived and died for should be emulated by all if Nigeria as a nation must fulfill her mission.

"As a government, we are similarly doing our part in strengthening these higher values of Omoluabi that bind our people together," Aregbesola added.

"An Omoluabi will keep the peace at all cost; he will be good to his neighbours at all times; he will extend the hands of fellowship to a fellow human in all circumstances.

"This is the fundamental goal of all religions - to make us better persons, and keep us together in a better society," he said.

Aregbesola said that the moral standards set by God remains constant and hold true for all time and place and cover the whole area of human conducts in life, both personal and interpersonal.

He continued: "Therefore, religious leaders also have a responsibility in bringing about a better society.

"The leaders of faiths have a duty towards God and their human followers. They are very much like the shepherd; they lead, they guide, and they direct.

"It is for them to impart on their flock the moral teachings and values of God. The importance of these values cannot be over-emphasised. Values are the essence and basis of any human society; they are the very core of social existence.

"Values make and break society. A society holds together when there is general agreement on its core values. A society falls apart when those fundamental values no longer command consensus. This essential fact is summed up in the Biblical question posed in Amos 3 v 3: 'Can two walk together, except they be agreed?' (KJV)."

In his remarks before pronouncing Governor Aregbesola an Evangelist amidst jubilation from the crowd, the President of Nigerian Baptist Convention, Reverend Supo Ayokunle described Aregbesola as amiable, visionary, a gift to this generation, a friend and a man of the people.

Ayokunle also appreciated the governor for show of love to Christians and the Baptist family in particular.

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