Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) on Monday charged ministers of God to take better control of the pulpits and be more restrained with the kind of utterances that comes out of there.
The Governor who against the backdrop of a story making rounds about the insistence of a religious group that only a Christian must emerge as the next Governor of Lagos, addressed a large gathering of religious leaders at the opening of the Lagos State Inter-faith conference held at the Golden Tulip Hotel, Festac Town, maintained that the choice of who would rule the State should not be based on religion. He said could not recollect when last a Governor was chosen on the basis of his religious belief.
He wondered whether a clear line could be drawn between Christian blood and Muslim blood or between a Muslim and Christian water and urged the people to continue to promote unity and brotherhood instead of discrimination in whatever form, reminding them that there is no way a Muslim may not have contributed in the building of a church or vice versa.
Fashola urged Lagosians to always remember that choosing a Governor is by elections where a choice has to be made but that such outright pronouncement limits the ability of the people to have a say.
“I know that for some, religion is a business and for some a business calling. You can criticize us because you elected us but we cannot criticize you but many people hide behind the clothes and it is only you who can clear that”, he stated.
He added that it is only God who can insist and be definitive about a choice, as all mortals making the insistence do not know if indeed they would be alive in an hour’s time to witness the ascension to power of whom they are clamouring about.
He stated that in terms of the theme of the conference Peace, religious harmony and good governance, the people must first seek religious harmony before peace can follow and that the ways Nigerians ventilate complaints on religious and ethnic grounds means that they do not trust themselves enough to understand that expression of one faith can go on without limiting the other.
He reiterated that insecurity does not discriminate or ask if people to be affected are Muslims or Christians and explained that the location of such incidents are usually a matter of coincidence, admonishing that and that meanings should not be read to why some people were affected and some were lucky not to be affected.
He added that even if in some instances some government’s policies rub off wrongly with some set of people being on the wrong side of a government policy, such people must refrain from saying they were affected because of their places of origin.
Fashola said what most Nigerians should be concerned with is how to get good governance which could come in the form of getting food on their table or getting a job to keep body and soul together.
He said good governance is about giving an opportunity to everyone who wants to work, having a fair chance to compete and about the government setting a fair chance for everyone.
The Governor recalled that as a child, he was trained to pray for forgiveness of sin and not miracles but to work and pray to God to bless the works of one’s hands.
He said each time people draw allusion to lofty heights attained in the educational sector in the days gone by and attribute it to the government; little did they know that such were never achieved by the government but by the missionaries who ran most of the schools then.
He added that presently, out of the almost 14,000 schools on the state database for the primary and secondary levels, less than 2000 of them are government owned and that the same situation obtains in the hospitals and health sector where out of the almost 3000 health institutions, only 10 percent are run by the government.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Home Affairs and Culture, Hon Oyinlomo Danmole said the Inter-faith conference is about fostering mutual coexistence among the different cultures and ethnic origins that live in Lagos.
He said that the democratic experience in Nigeria has been threatened by religious conflicts but that with the convening of such a conference it would go a long way in ensuring peace and religious harmony among the residents.
SPECIAL ADVISER TO H.E ON MEDIA
MAY 19, 2014