The age long adage says that when a handshake goes beyond the elbow, then it is no longer a handshake and one must prepare for a fight. This statement best explains the relationship between the governor of the state of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola and his friends and admirers from the Baptists Church in Nigeria on one hand and the Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN) Osun Chapter on the other. It is hoped that the spirit of Christmas will reunite the once cordial friends who fell apart following the ongoing reclassification of schools in the state. The restructuring has not gone down well with the Baptists Church in Nigeria and it has punctured their hither to robust relationship.
It will be recalled that in April 2013 during the Baptist National Centenary Convention in Osogbo that Governor Aregbesola was the guest of honour. Prior to the convention, the Baptist Church had approached the governor for financial aid and were given the sum of N25 million as well as 3 acres of land to use as convention ground. The governor also facilitated the issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) by directing the Commissioner for Lands, Arc Muyiwa Ige to prepare and hand over the the C of O to the Baptists. As a matter of fact, the governor did not leave the convention ground until the documents were expressly prepared, signed and handed over to the Baptists. This action of the governor was more than a miracle to the leaders and laities. The whole convention ground erupted in ecstasy. The convention ground was charged with the shout of praise to God and commendation to a Muslim governor that gave the Baptists all their requests.
Aregbesola who commended the Baptists national convention for choosing Osun as venue of their centenary celebration had observed that, “your intervention in education at the primary, secondary and University- Bowen University at Iwo is undisputed. The first generation of the parents in Osun benefited from the Baptist education. The hand of God is in this state and that is why your presence here is welcome.” He further told the congregation that “it is religion and moral values that keep the society together.”
The President of the Baptist convention, Rev. Dr. Ayokunle was more than happy with the governor for his unusual generosity and hospitality and thereafter, pronounced the ‘baptismal’ name of the Osun governor to be “Rueben” as he thanked the governor for his financial and moral support given to them.
However, Governor Aregbesola preferred the name Nathaniel to Rueben. Quoting the Gospel of John1:47, where Jesus Christ said “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile”, the governor said religion will have no meaning if people do not know we are representative of God on earth, arguing that religion means love harmony, oneness with your maker.
As 2013 is about to end, the Baptists leaders had forgotten that Aregbesola did not just prefer Nathaniel as a name but share all that characteristics of the Biblical Nathaniel. Aregbesola believes that the purpose of man on earth is to serve God and render services to fellow being in whatever position he finds himself.
The Baptists have also forgotten the message of Nathaniel Aregbesola on the purpose of religion which he claimed was for us to live in love and harmony. Today, Rauf ‘Nathaniel’ Aregbesola is seen as a man on the course of Islamising the State of Osun.
But Governor Aregbesola can be likened to Cassius Clay who later became Muhammed Ali. Ali got pleasure in being different, most of all he liked being himself. He refused to fight in conventional way. A boxer usually keeps his gloves up towards his head and upper body, ready to parry a blow. Ali likes to keep his hands low, apparently inviting attack- but he is quicker than other boxers, and the best way to lure the opponent’s chin just close enough for Ali to snap a jab, by lowering his hands. Ali’s unconventional tactics defeated Sonny Liston twice, forced Joe Frasier to kiss the canvass in Kinshasa at-“the rumble in the Jungle” fight.
Nathaniel Aregbesola, a Muslim gave them money to complete Christian convention ground, nobody accused him of religious bigotry, when the C of O was issued in an unconventional manner, and he was celebrated as the Nathaniel on who is no guile. When Iwo Baptist High school was chosen as one of the model schools to be built at the cost of N1.3billion, the governor was on the good book of the Baptist Church. How come that the goods that Aregbesola have done not only to the Baptists but to the Catholic and Methodists were suddenly forgotten under six months only to be labeled a jihadist. If Baptists were in trance, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) cannot fall in to the same trance. Earlier in the year the Christian Association of Nigeria Osun chapter sought and gotten approval for a sum of N10 million for their secretariat from the same government they now accuse of islamisation.
The composition of the state executive is biased towards the Muslims. Out of the 34 members, the Christian members are 22, the legislators too comprises of 2/3 Christian members. The majority of the judicial members are Christians.
In Yoruba land, the people don’t fight over religion, this is because there is no community in the South West that has a mono religion; our secularism in Yoruba land allow husband and wife to belong to different religion without any trouble. Two of our governors in the South West even though practicing Muslims are married to Christians.
The bitter truth is that all public schools belong to the government since the promulgation of September 1975 decree that gave the power of ownership of schools to the government. If there is any state in the Federation that may return schools to the missionaries out of kindness, such gesture must not be abused, this is because if such gesture is challenged in the court the plaintiff stand to win. This is due to the supremacy of the Laws of the Federation over that of the states
The names of these schools merely reminded us that they were once established by the former owners. If we look at the Tenancy Law in Nigeria when an individual abandon its property for 12 years without collecting any rent it loses its property to the occupier, if on the other hand, it affect individual and the state the forfeiture take place after 20 years. So, the schools that the government have taken over for the past 35 years, is there any law that can support the repossession?
As we celebrate the Christmas, we must remember the love of Christ that is peace personify, we must adhere to Apostle Paul message that says in Romans 12 verse 18 “if it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men,” the same Paul further stated “in 1Timothy 2 verses 1-2 “ I exhort therefore, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may live lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”
If we all adhere to the biblical teaching as we enter the New Year and leave politics for politicians, more souls will be won for Christ and the glory of the Lord will be seen in our lives.