Former military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd), has described Osun State as a role model to other states in the country in terms of peaceful co-existence among the people irrespective of their religious differences.
The ex-leader, who arrived the state since Saturday for Nigeria Prays meeting, led a prayer session for the country through the Nigeria Prays Movement with a view of achieving a peaceful, secure and more united Nigeria.
He described as amazing the way and manner he found the good people of Osun State living together in peace and harmony and playing their roles well with prayer and unity for the good of the state, the country and mankind.
Specifically, he said, he was delighted the governor, who is a Muslim, agreed to host him during the Muslim festive period, a gesture the ex-leader noted, others would have politely turned down on the ground that it was a Sallah period.
Expressing satisfaction with the level of understanding and tolerance for one another in the state despite differences in religious beliefs, Gowon maintained that other states and even Nigeria as a country must imbibe such attributes.
He said among the states in the South-west that he and his Nigeria Prays Movement team had visited, Osun State stands out in all ramifications, confessing an increase in his love for Osun. He appreciated God for blessing the state with the governor who believes in the efficacy of prayers.
He maintained that Nigerians need to develop a sense of unity, love and respect for one another, adding that his greatest wish is for Nigeria to continue to dwell in unity and peace.
He thanked the governor for the warm reception given him and prayed God to support him in his determination to take the state to greater heights.
Gowon said: “I am delighted to tell everyone that Osun is a role model state for other states in the country, because it has attributes that must be adopted by all to have peaceful co-existence.
“All the religious bodies: Christianity, Islam and Traditional Religion are clearly playing out their roles here as prayer warriors for the good of the state, for the good of Nigeria, and for the good of mankind.
“Honestly, among the states that we have been to as Nigeria Prays Movement, Osun State stands out. We were well received, and we saw your good character on display. The governor told me he is a man of prayers and he believes in prayers.
“I can confirm the manifestation of his prayers and strong belief in God on the life of the people. You certainly made us to feel very loving towards one another, and I will say thank you very much indeed.
“Honestly, I think I have fallen in love with Osun State and its people, and this is where I see the faith in Nigeria that Muslims and Christians as well as Traditionalists go hand in hand to celebrate one another in truth, by bringing a sense of unity, love and respect for one another.
“Nigeria needs this more than anything else. My prayer has always been: let Nigeria continue to dwell in peace and unity.”
Responding, Osun State Governor, Gboyega Oyetola, said he felt honoured to welcome the former head of state to the state, describing the retired general as a man of history that cannot be forgotten, adding that National Youth Service Corps was established during his time as the country’s leader and it’s fostering unity till date.
He said Gowon was a man without controversy, commending him for serving Nigeria well to ensure development and unity.
He said that the retired general has continued to demonstrate how a statesman should be, adding that even after leaving office, he still has the love of Nigeria at heart, as this was evident in his establishment of the Nigeria Prays Movement, a major spiritual body in the country.
The governor maintained that God resides in Osun, as foremost spiritual leaders in the country are from the state. He disclosed that the decision by government to return History as a subject to the school syllabus would avail the younger generations the opportunity of learning about the history of great men like Gowon, particularly on his role in leading Nigeria to victory during a three-year civil war.
Oyetola, who appreciated Gowon for tagging Osun a model to other states of the federation in terms of living together in peace and unity, also called on the people to eschew violence and dwell in peace and unity as brothers and sisters, adding that Osun thrives on prayer and himself as the governor, is a beneficiary of prayer.