Osinbajo at National Mosque Speaks on Aso Rock Chapel and Aisha Buhari’s Kitchen
By: Mikail Mumuni
Rabiu’ Thaani 03, 1441 | Friday, 29 November 2019.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Friday told guests at the General Assembly of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) about the religious harmony that exist between his family and that of President Muhammadu Buhari despite belonging to two different religions.
Osinbajo, a Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) was the Chief Guest of Honour at the General Assembly of NSCIA which has Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar as its President General. The theme of the General Assembly was Islam and National Development.
As Osinbajo rose to make his speech at the event held at the Conference Hall of the National Mosque, Abuja, he referred to Mrs. Aisha Buhari who was seated to his right hand side, as his neighbor at the Aso Rock President Villa.
Explaining the neighborliness, he said the Villa Chapel where he worships is by the precinct of the president’s residence, “and indeed next to the First Lady’s kitchen.”
His reference to the kitchen provoked laughter from the audience and the professor of law threw another jab when he said “please don’t ask if we go to the First Lady’s kitchen after our Sunday Church services.”
Saying that he was relating this story so that Nigerians would borrow a leaf on religious harmony, he said President Buhari, a devout Muslim, often asked him about how the services went.
Much to the delight of his audience, Professor Osinbajo quoted The Holy Quran to back up his claim that we all belong to the brotherhood of humanity despite our religious differences and that we must all maintain ties of good neighborliness.
The passage of The Quran, chapter 49 (al-Hujurat), verse 13 reads:
“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).”
The Vice president said there would be less rancor among people of different faiths if we all imbibe the lessons contained in the verse.
Drawing similarity with the parable of the Good Samaritan as taught by Jesus Christ, he said our neigbour that we are enjoined to love is not limited to the adherents of our religions alone.
Wikipedia said “The parable of the Good Samaritan is a parable told by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. It is about a traveller who is stripped of clothing, beaten, and left half dead alongside the road. First a priest and then a Levite comes by, but both avoid the man. Finally, a Samaritan happens upon the traveller. Samaritans and Jews despised each other, but the Samaritan helps the injured man. Jesus is described as telling the parable in response to the question from a lawyer, “And who is my neighbour?”. In response, Jesus tells the parable, the conclusion of which is that the neighbour figure in the parable is the man who shows mercy to the injured man—that is, the Samaritan.”
Professor Osinbajo said Imam Abubakar who saved about 200 Christians from being killed was following the injunctions of both The Quran and The Bible by his act. He urged Nigerians to emulate the Imam in their dealings with people of all faiths.
The Muslim cleric is the Imam of Nghar village in Gashish District, in Barkin Ladi local government area of Plateau State.
Herdsmen said to be on retaliatory mission were reported to have killed at least 100 people in several communities in the local government area between June 23 and June 24, 2018.
When some of the fleeing locals ran to Nghar village in Gashish District, Imam Abubakar shielded them from the attackers, despite threats to his own personal safety.
Many of those the Imam provided shelter for were indigenous Berom people, mostly Christians, who were believed to be the primary targets of the attacks.
Osinbajo also spoke about an unnamed Christian cleric who he said has a big church in one of the northern states. He said the man sought audience with him, saying he wanted to raise an issue about the governor of the state where the church is situated.
The vice president said the governor is a Muslim and that this made him to have a feeling that the Pastor wanted to raise complaints about him. He said when he eventually granted him audience, the Pastor told him that the governor had been very accommodating in the way he treats Christians in the state and should be considered for special commendation.
Professor Osinbajo said he was happy hearing a pastor speaking in glowing terms about a Muslim governor, just as he said it was a thing a joy that an Imam could open the doors of his mosque and home for Christians fleeing for safety when he too ran the risk of being killed.
He commended the Sultan and other leaders of the NSCIA for the roles they are playing in inter-faith harmony along with their Christian counter-parts and asked them not to relent.
He added that“It is my view that the weight of ensuring that this country is on the right track is on our leaders. We should be our brother’s keeper no matter the religion. We should always be ready to make sacrifices for one another.
“We have religious and tribal tension in this country. Many are beating the drum of ethnic and religious war. We are at a historic juncture of our nation.
“Every Sunday, my family and I and other hundreds of worshippers attend the villa chapel, and it is located in the premises of the President and his family, and located a few seconds away from the kitchen of the First Lady. That is the kind of tolerance we are talking about.
“It is the duty of leaders to show that attitude. Leaders should be committed to their call to service, especially political leaders. Their actions can transform the nation.
Also speaking at the event, the First Lady commended the NSCIA for its contribution to peace, security, socio-economic and political development of Nigeria.
Mrs. Buhari said the decisions of the Council needs to be converted into realistic template for practice by Muslims in the country. She called on the Muslim Ummah to embrace the decisions of the assembly, “especially those related to personal affairs and those that guide the relationship between them and members of other faiths as a tool for the promotion of peaceful coexistence in the country.”
She equally called on political leaders to do more with a view to improving the lives of citizens through the provision of basic amenities as a catalyst for development.
Asking political office holders to join hands with her husband in improving the lot of the common man, the First Lady said:
“We either fasten our seatbelts and do the needful or we all regret it very soon, because at the rate things are going, things are getting completely out of hand.
“The VP is here. Some ministers are here. They are supposed to do justice to the situation.
“People cannot afford potable water in this country while we have governors. Since this is the highest decision-making body of Islamic affairs, for those that are listening, we should fear God, and we should know that one day, we will return to God and account for our deeds here on earth.”
Earlier, the President-General of NSCIA and Sultan of Sokoto, his eminence, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, in his message said leaders must be accountable to the led and must demonstrate good example of humility and service. He advised leaders to do more on education, particularly to address the Almajiri System and girl-child education.
He commended the First Lady for the effort she is making to improve the lot of the common Nigerians through the various humanitarian activities of Future Assured Programme. He said her passion has led to opening up of discussion with the Council on the issue of divorce, which is becoming rampant and which has an impact on the welfare and well-being of children.
Secretary General of NSCIA, Professor Is-haq Oloyede thanked Osinbajo and the first lady on behalf of the NSCIA for attending the program.
He said the Vice president combines public administration with Godliness and prayed to God to continue to bless and protect him. He said Nigeria has benefited a lot from the Vice president’s conducts which he said, are worthy of emulation.
Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, delivering the keynote lecture on The Nexus between Islam and National Development said development is at the center of Islam.
He noted that many clauses of the United Nations Development goals were long incorporated in The Qu’ran.
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