Former head of state, General Yakubu Gowon (retd.), 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 leader of the Nigeria Prays Movement, who arrived the state since Saturday, had led a prayer for the country through the movement with a view to achieving a peaceful, secured and more united Nigeria.
He described as amazing the manner he found the people of Osun 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.
Gowon expressed delight at the warmth reception accorded him by Governor Gboyega Oyetola, a Muslim, who also agreed to host him during the Muslim festival, a gesture the ex-leader noted others would have politely turned down on the grounds that it was a Sallah period.
While 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 stood out in all ramifications, confessing an increase in his love for Osun.
The former head of state thanked God for blessing the state with the governor who believes in the efficacy of prayer.
He maintained that Nigerians needed to develop a sense of unity, love and respect for one another, adding that his greatest wish was for Nigeria to continue to dwell in unity and peace.
He thanked the governor for the warm reception and prayed God to support him in his determination to take the state to greater heights.
“I am delighted to tell everyone that Osun is a role model 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 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,” he said.
Governor Oyetola said he felt honoured to welcome the former head of state to the state.
He described the retired general as a man of history that could not be forgotten, adding that National Youth Service Corps was established during his time as the country’s leader and it fostered unity till date.
He said Gowon was a man without controversy and commended him for serving Nigeria well to ensure development and unity.
Oyetola said the retired general had continued to demonstrate adequate statesmanship because even after leaving office, he still had the love of Nigeria at heart as expressed in his establishment of the Nigeria Prays Movement, a major spiritual body in the country.
The governor maintained that God resides in Osun because 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 of the opportunity of learning about the history of great men like Gowon, particularly on his role in leading Nigeria to victory during the three-year civil war.
Oyetola, who thanked 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.
He added that Osun thrived on prayers of which he the governor is a beneficiary.