From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
The Traditional Religion Worshippers Association of Nigeria, Oyo State branch, and an Islamic denomination, Nasrul-Lahi-l-Fatih Society (NASFAT), are currently at loggerheads over a request for annual public holidays by the traditionalists.
Indications emerged Saturday when the traditionalists fired back at the Islamic group for allegedly saying that the traditionalists should not be given annual public holidays because they are not united and that they did not have a leadership structure. NASFAT Chief Missione Imam Abdul-Azeez Onike was quoted to have purportedly said that granting public holidays to traditional worshippers is an invitation to chaos in the country.
The traditionalists have described the statement credited to Onike as reckless, divisive and lacking in qualities of a good spiritual leader. The group said this in a statement issued and signed by its state chairman, Adefabi Dasola, and the secretary, Dr Fakayode Fatunde. They warned the Chief Missioner to be wary of utterances that could lead the country to disunity.
‘It is very stupefying that such statement, reckless and divisive as it is could come from someone as an Imam. We, in the traditional religion, are peace-lovers; we are not the ones causing a crisis in North Eastern Nigeria, as our religion is not against Western education and the doctrine of human rights,’ they stated.
‘The likes of the NASFAT Missioner have lost substance in the issues facing our country today and are ready to cause aversion among religions. What is his take on the state of our economy? What has he to say to the daily rising number of killings in the North by Boko Haram and bandits? Does he know of the emigration of medical personnel abroad over an unstable future, caused by religious fanatics like himself, who would rather goad incompetent leaders on?
‘We urge people that are working day and night to make the peaceful coexistence of Nigerians possible to warn the Missioner not to add religious crisis to the current problems our nation is facing. He should be seen preaching love, unity and religious tolerance and not to be gallivanting about the superiority of one religion above the other.’
The traditional worshippers described the action of some of the South West governors who are yet to declare public holiday for them as unfortunate, saying that the average politician knows that in an election, just one vote is important for victory. They claimed that every Yoruba traditional home had one or more Orisha before the advent of Christianity and Islam and that in every five Yoruba people, there is one traditional worshipper.
‘The fact that we do not advertise our religion like Christians will do with cross or bible and Muslims with Quran and ‘Tesbiyh’ does not mean we do not have appreciable population. Politicians also know the value of numbers and the fact that no one individual is disposable when it comes to election, they should know that in every five Yoruba persons there is a traditionalist,’ they said.
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