Makinde approves resumption of public holiday for Hijrah

February 24, 2021
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Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, on Wednesday, pronounced that henceforth the state will resume the observance of Hijrah as a public holiday.

The declaration was in response to public demand for the annual public holiday, made by the Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Edo and Delta States, Alhaji Makanjuola Akinola, at an event to mark this year’s Mawlud Nabbiyy, held at Government House Arcade, Agodi, Ibadan.

Reservations had trailed the failure of the Makinde administration to declare the last Hijrah, which signifies the commencement of Islamic New Year, as a public holiday.

Speaking on calls for a declaration of public holiday for the Hijrah celebration, the governor said he had extensive discussions with some members of his cabinet on the need to declare the holiday but this was not concluded at the end of his first year.

He, however, added that since the Aare Musulumi had raised the matter again, and following his consultation, which indicated that it was the wish of the Muslims, he would declare the holiday from next year.

“You asked for a holiday for Hijrah. Some people said that a public holiday had been declared in the state before our administration came to power. But this administration cancelled it. I have travelled across the globe.

“I remembered that there was a time that my assistant then, who has become a great man today (Personal Assistant to the governor), Alhaji Akeem Azeez, was in Hajj. Then, I was flying from Dubai to Kuwait. I told him that we were flying through the border of Saudi Arabia.

“So, when this issue of Hijrah came up, I asked them that in all these Arabian countries if they do observe public holidays for Hijrah. I asked a few questions too. Why is it not a national holiday? Is it that some people are trying to play politics in Oyo and Osun States? Are they doing something that our religion mandates us to do? I also asked questions in line with the four major pillars of this administration, which are health, education, security and economy.

“If you look at our economy, we anchor it on two pillars. The first one is my Special Adviser on Economy, Prof Musbau Babatunde, and the person in charge of Oyo State Investment Promotion Agency, Hon Segun Ogunwuyi.

“One of them is a Christian and the other one is a Muslim. I called them and asked if the public will take us seriously if we declare many public holidays and we want our economy to grow. I said if at every opportunity, we declare a public holiday, will the public take us seriously?

“So, some suggestions and discussions came up on whether we should continue with it or not. But we could not conclude and we continue with the discussion. But today, since it is the Aare Musulumi that asked for it and you our clerics, you kept silent; it is like you approved of the demand.

The governor turned to the Muslim women at the programme and said: “You our mothers, do you approve of the holiday?” The response was in the affirmative that there should be a public holiday to mark the day in the state.

Then, Makinde responded: “Well, you put the government in power and what you want is what the government should do. So, from this point forward, we too will be observing Hijrah as a public holiday in Oyo State.”

On the request for Mawlud Nabbiyy holidays in Oyo State, the governor said the request would be attended to at the appropriate time, saying: “Some are saying the governor does not want us to be celebrating Mawlud Nabbiy. That is not true. Last year, I believe we missed it. And when S.A Islamic Affairs came to meet me that it will be nice to hold the programme this year, even despite the COVID-19 pandemic, I gave him the go-ahead.

“We agreed on the date to choose, which would be convenient for our Imams, Alfas and others and that was why we chose today. I even told him that it is better we are late on it than not holding the event at all. But now, we know what is right and the promise is, from this point forward, we will be celebrating the event at the right time.

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“For the first year, we could not have a landing. So, we continued with that discussion but since the Aare of Musulumi asked for it and because this is a government you put in place, we will be observing Hijrah as a public holiday in Oyo State,” he said.

On the request for Mawlud Nabbiyy holidays in Oyo State, the governor said the request would be attended to at the appropriate time, saying: “Some are saying the governor does not want us to be celebrating Mawlud Nabbiy. That is not true. Last year, I believe we missed it. And when S.A Islamic Affairs came to meet me that it will be nice to hold the programme this year, even despite the COVID-19 pandemic, I gave him the go-ahead.

“We agreed on the date to choose, which would be convenient for our Imams, Alfas and others and that was why we chose today. I even told him that it is better we are late on it than not holding the event at all. But now, we know what is right and the promise is, from this point forward, we will be celebrating the event at the right time.”

Sheik Adio Akinlapa, who delivered the sermon, called on both Muslim faithful and believers of other religions to support the Makinde administration in achieving success.

Akinlapa equally commended the present administration in the state for its tolerance to all religious bodies in the state, saying: “For those who are angry about Makinde becoming the governor of Oyo State, they have missed it. God made this possible and the people must accept what the Lord has said so they can have rest of mind. Any house that does not have a good foundation will be destroyed in no time.

“Any religion that does not give us the teaching on how to live a good life is not a religion. Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo ethnic groups are all the same. We the masses are like phones, a phone without a SIM card is valueless no matter how expensive it is. And the government can be likened to a SIM card that brings out the value of a phone. What I am saying in essence is, we need to live peacefully with ourselves.”

The celebration featured several events including Quranic recitations and special prayer sessions for those at the helm of affairs in the state and the country.

Government functionaries that attended the celebration included the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs Olubamiwo Adeosun; Head of Service, Alhaja Ololade Agboola and Chief of Staff, Chief Bisi Ilaka, among others.

Other dignitaries in attendance were the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III; Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji, Aje Ogungunniso 1; Chief Imam of Ibadanland, Sheikh Ganiyu Agbotomokekere and the former state chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Benjamin Akanmu as well as the Chairman of the Oyo State Pilgrims Welfare Board, Christian Wing, Bishop Ademola Moradeyo among others.

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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