The Chief Press Secretary to Oyo State Governor, Taiwo Adisa has stated the reasons the Oyo State government did not declare a public holiday for Hijrah 1442 AH, which signifies the beginning of the new year in the Islamic calendar.
Muslims leaders and organizations in the state had accused Makinde of reneging on his campaign promise that he would protect the rights of Muslims if he became the governor and that he would not cancel the Hijrah holiday declared by the immediate past administration.
However, Adisa, while speaking on an Impact Business Radio programme, “Bottom Line” anchored by Anuoluwapo Omorinde in Ibadan, on Saturday, counselled some Islamic leaders and elders, who he accused of mixing politics with religion, to stop trying to derail the government with unfounded allegations.
According to Adisa, the claim that Governor Makinde has reneged on a campaign promise is false, noting that the position that Engr. Makinde as a governorship candidate promised not to cancel Hijrah holiday is not a statement of fact and that there is a difference between words from the candidate and those from his campaign handlers.
According to him, “I was not in the state at that time, but I have interacted with the person that they quoted to have spoken on behalf of Engr. Seyi Makinde as candidate then, Prince Dotun Oyelade. His statement was a reference to another statement credited to the camp of the candidate of APC in the 2019, Bayo Adelabu in the build-up to the gubernatorial election. They issued a statement that Muslims should not vote for Seyi Makinde because according to them, Makinde as Governor would cancel public holiday for Hijrah.
“This prompted the Prince Dotun Oyelade who was Mankinde’s spokesperson then to refute that claim, stating that if elected, Engr. Makinde would not cancel any holiday that is properly gazetted.”
He said: “There are many issues surrounding the Hijrah holiday. Firstly, the particular date the Hijrah falls into became a problem, because some persons had announced Thursday, 20 August before the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs headed by the Sultan of Sokoto actually issued some letters to Governors stating that 21st August, 2020 should be observed as Hijrah day.
“Even if any government in power wanted to go on to declare holiday, which one would you declare? Then, in the case of Oyo State, somebody raised the issue and informed the governor that Hijrah day was on the 20th and that Isese day, (Traditional Worshipper’s day) was also on the 20th. Do you declare holiday in such a date and say half of today is for the traditionalists and the other half is for Hijrah?
“There was never a gazette which states that there must be holiday on Hijrah day in Oyo State. The Sultan of Sokoto in his letter never wrote that holiday must be declared, even President Buhari didn’t declare holiday for the whole country. Should we say Buhari has marginalized Muslims because he did not declare Hijrah holiday? What about the governors in the North where they are predominantly Muslims, are they marginalizing Muslims by not declaring the holiday?
Speaking further, Adisa warned those he described as politicians interested in 2023 who are masquerading and pushing religious leaders to use religion as a political tool to desist from such, saying: “Whoever signed that statement about the governor not declaring holiday is allowing himself to be used for politics. Someone said 2023 is coming, is that not politics? That’s far away from the realm of religion, religion belongs to God.”
When asked if the government would take the statement seriously? He said “why will you not take any statement seriously? Except you are not a serious person, why would someone make a statement above his capacity and you are not taking it seriously? Makinde is an epitome of religion tolerance, his personality encompasses that, he built mosques, he has been sending Muslim faithful on pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina and we have continued to state that our government is here to promote religious harmony. We will not tolerate anybody to distract us with religious dichotomy.
“I don’t believe that the statement issued represented the Muslim community, because we are all together in this state. This is a state of religious harmony, there are no families that do not have people of the two faiths either as husbands or wives or as brothers, sisters, uncles, cousins and all that.
When asked if he was of the opinion that some persons were behind this, the Chief Press Secretary said “I am not suggesting but confirming that it was an agendum by some persons to use religion and it has been stated right from 2019 by one particular candidate that he would use religion to frustrate Governor Seyi Makinde and that he would use religion to get into power.
“You can conduct your investigation, we know ourselves. One thing I will put on notice for you is that when these faces come up, ask them, they have had chances of being in power before, they have had chances of holding offices before, what was the scorecard in their tenures?”
Meanwhile, according to the Muslim Community in their statement, for the second consecutive year, the current administration of Governor Seyi Makinde has sidelined the Muslim faithful in the state, cancelling the yearly Hijrah public holiday which marks the beginning of a new Muharram 1.
They alleged that Makinde’s intolerance for Islam and Muslims would make him cancel the yearly Hijrah holiday, return public schools to the missionaries and stop the use of Hijab.
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