ADDRESS DELIVERED BY THE GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF OSUN, OGBENI RAUF AREGBESOLA, AS THE SPECIAL GUEST OF HONOUR AT THE CONGRESS AND INAUGURATION CEREMONY OF NEW EXECUTIVE OF THE CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA, OSUN BRANCH, HELD AT OS-CAN SECRETARIAT, OWODE-EDE ROAD, ON THURSDAY OCTOBER 17, 2013
EMPOWERED FOR SERVICE
It is my pleasure to be at this special occasion, the Congress and Inauguration Ceremony of the new Executive Council of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), State of Osun Chapter. May I respectfully thank the outgoing leadership of CAN for its service and contributions to our great state. We acknowledge your support. I should also want to express my gratitude to you for the honour of being invited to this ceremony as the Special Guest of Honour.
Today we are gathered here to witness the passing of the baton of responsibility from the council whose tenure has expired to a newly constituted one whose tenure begins today. I congratulate all the members of this new council. I should like to believe that this will be one of the most memorable days of your earthly existence. I say this because nothing compares with the indescribable joy that the call to service inspires in the heart. It is a call to work assiduously to heal the broken-hearted. It is a commission to labour sacrificially for the salvation of the lost. It is a charge to minister hope to the hopeless. Indeed, the call to serve as leaders in the vineyard of the Almighty God is nothing less than an empowerment for sincere service for the continuous wellbeing of people. And it is in the daily fulfilment of the mandate of the ministry to which you are called that you truly experience the joy of service.
Yet, there is something fundamentally ironic about the call to service. As I am sure you do very well know as spiritual leaders, the road to service – secular or spiritual – is often time rough. It has never been an easy road. Indeed, it can be very rough. Leadership for me is not a platform on which one lives large and enjoys the good things of life. It is a call to service which is never devoid of peculiar challenges. Both in words and deeds, Jesus made it clear that the service of leading people to the brook of salvation would never be smooth and without formidable challenges. What He assures the persevering, committed and faithful workers is victory. This is the source of the confidence that everyone who accepts to lead the flock of God has. They depend immovably on the unfailing grace of God to see them through the rough parts on the path of service.
As you take the truncheon of leadership as executive members of CAN in Osun, I invite you to work responsibly for the wellbeing of the body of Christ and the progress of the state as a whole. As a major stakeholder in the affairs of our beloved state, I invite you to make invaluable contributions to its continuous greatness. As you renew your commitment to the Lord in service, I invite you to make the insightful words of Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Philippians your watchword. He says to them in Philippians 2 verse 4: ‘Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interest of others’. In all the decisions you will take as Christian leaders in the state, I invite you to do so within a larger framework of the overall good of the vast majority of the people.
You have a great moral responsibility in working untiringly for a sustainable society in Osun. You have to see to it that you give insularity, naked greed, and lack of empathy for non-Christians a wide berth. They are destructive weeds that will lay waste the well-cultivated farmland of development. Your leadership must avoid anything that can cause social disequilibrium in this State. Your actions, words and undertakings as Christian leaders must be to build and lead people to the path of salvation, good neighbourliness and love. Religion in your hand must not be put to negative use. As the Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, rightly observes, ‘[o]f the various forms of culture, the religious exercises the most powerful, unpredictable influence on human conduct, more potent and domineering, evidently more enduring than secular ideology’. Religion in your hand must therefore be an instrument for the reformation and cultivation of the human mind.
In the same measure, I encourage you to work more closely with our administration. I enjoyed a good working relationship with the old CAN leadership in the state. I will never forget how the leadership was always by my side anytime reactionary forces and agents of destabilisation came up with any mischief; and how with its support, we were able to deflect the fiery arrows of the wicked. For this, I will remain eternally grateful.
I must let you know that, as a democrat, I welcome constructive criticism and healthy engagement. These are critical pillars on which a sound democratic edifice must be built. There is nothing wrong in making useful observations about a policy of government. As major stakeholders, you have the right to call government’s attention to areas you might think require attention.
In recent times, there have been vibrant exchanges between us over the reforms we are carrying out in schools. Let me assure you that these reforms are without malicious intentions. I am quite aware that revolutionary changes of this nature will surely bring some discomfort. The first generation of educated citizens of this country was produced by Christian missions, mostly. You will agree with me however that the state of our schools when our administration came on board on November 27, 2010 was not what you could be proud of anymore. On this, our purpose and goal (to provide education for the total man in spirit, soul and body) are coterminous. We only have differences on the path to take. We can easily maximise our areas of agreement and work closely on our differences in an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding.
Let us avoid name calling, confrontation and making false and unfounded accusations that are capable dividing our people, creating tension and heating up the polity.
Let me restate it here again that our government will never be found guilty of privileging any group above another. The state belongs to all of us. The mandate I was given applies to all people, all gender and all faiths. I am fully determined to defend this with all that it pleases the good Lord to give me. Government’s programmes will fail where they are meant mainly for a group, rather than for all the people. We will never compromise on our resolve to make Osun a thriving hub of socio-economic development. This is possible when all groups work harmoniously together.
Above all, as people of faith, I covet your prayers. The Apostle Paul enjoins Timothy in 1Timothy 2:1-3: ‘Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour’.
Again, I congratulate you on this occasion of your inauguration. I wish you a successful tenure of office.
I thank you for your assuring audience.