.Wants use of religion for unity and improvement of people’s lives
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the weekend said in the last seven years of working closely with President Muhammadu Buhari, there has not been any religious dispute between them.
The Vice President has also canvassed for the use of faith by religious leaders to unite the nation as well as improve the lives of the citizenry.
Speaking while playing host to the Senegal-based Grand Khalifa of Tijjaniya Movement, Worldwide, His Eminence, Sheikh Muhammadu Mahi Ibrahim Niass at the State House, Abuja, Prof. Osinbajo described President Buhari as a model of a leader who accommodates people of different religious backgrounds, citing his relationship with the President spanning over seven years as a perfect example.
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande quoted Osinbajo as saying, “President Buhari is a serious Muslim and I am a pastor, both of us have worked together for about seven years, we have not had any issues.
“The President has shown great leadership, he has shown that he wants a country where people of different faiths live in harmony and with love for one another.”
He also stressed that beyond the spiritual upliftment of individuals and communities, religious leaders must use faith to promote peace, ensure prosperity for the people as well as the development of society
Osinbajo who emphasized the importance of religion in human development said “we must use our faiths to promote peace and prosperity for our people. We need to work together to ensure that our people benefit from religion.
“We tend to underestimate the importance of religion despite the fact that it plays a key role in the development of the society, not just in the spiritual aspect but physical.
“There are many nations of the world that have benefitted from the impact of religion both spiritually and physically. So, we must use religion in our countries (in Africa) to help our people to live better lives because in other parts of the world, leaders of faith have used religion to better the lives of the people,” he added.
Speaking further about the need for leaders of faith to close ranks for the purpose using religion to address emerging challenges in the society, the Vice President noted that “no matter what the situation may be, we in Africa must be able to sit together and talk. We must never allow situations where we cannot sit together.
“With what is going on across the world, people of faith must continue to emphasize that both major religions (Islam and Christianity) promote peace and we must allow our people to practice whatever religion they want to practice.”
Osinbajo praised the leader of the group while commending the Tijjaniya Movement for its progressive ideals and compassion for the needs of the people.
Earlier in his remarks, Sheikh Niass who spoke in French with interpretation by a spokesman thanked the Vice President for the opportunity to meet with him and his delegation while describing the VP as a great personality, the type needed both Nigeria and Africa.
His words: “the Vice President is a great personality with an exceptional character, standing on two feet: one as a political leader concerned about the progress of his people and the second, as a man of God.
“Africa needs a person of your nature with a very strong background in religion and politics. I pray that the Almighty Allah will upgrade you and enable you to achieve your desires and aspirations because, as I said, not only Nigeria but Africa will benefit from your leadership qualities.”
He added that Nigeria “is the heart of Africa and whatever Nigeria becomes, Africa becomes.”
The Tijjaniya leader also expressed the group’s sincere gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for his support, while praying for his safety and that Nigeria will overcome all its challenges. The VP promised to convey Sheik’s warm greetings and appreciation to the President.
He also prayed for peace in Nigeria, Africa and the world, and pledged his continued prayers for the Vice President and the country.
The Grand Khalifa of Tijjaniya worldwide and other members of the Movement across Africa had converged on Gusau, the Zamfara State capital to celebrate the 36th International Maulid Anniversary in honour of the Movement’s late leader Sheikh Ibrahim Niass