By Mohammad Audu
I was astonished if not dumfounded when I read in the national dailies recently that Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State visited the Central Mosque in Owerri road, Enugu, to felicitate with the Muslims during their Eid-el-Fitr celebration. I appreciated the visit more when I saw in the social media the images of the governor with the enthusiastic Muslims and the friendship that adored between both parties.
Gov. Ugwuanyi’s surprise visit has left me in a state of sober reflection, considering the avoidable wind of controversy rearing its ugly head to the detriment of our national unity. The governor’s visit has enriched my opinion about his quiddity as a humble, peace loving and detribalized Nigerian whose acts of love, generosity and accommodating spirit know no bounds. It has equally stood him out as a true democrat, nationalist and an agent of socialization, who strongly believes in the unity of Nigeria as an indivisible entity and peaceful co-existence of Nigerians, irrespective of our socio-political differences.
The visit painted a vivid picture of what the dreams and aspirations of the nation’s founding fathers represent – to live in peace with one another, make progress and defend the unity of the country. The exemplary action was also in keeping with the tenets of our National Anthem – “To serve our Fatherland with love and strength and faith” so that “the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain”.
Gov. Ugwuanyi by the visit exhibited maturity and firm commitment to the spirit of our nationhood notwithstanding the challenges confronting us as a nation. So, I was impressed with the governor’s bold initiative which is strange in our contemporary society, especially at this period the nation is experiencing some challenges capable of undermining her unity. I am also pleased to note that the governor prior to the surprise visit had earlier in the day sent Sallah gift items to the Muslims through his Special Adviser on Security Matters, Gen. Fred Eze (retd).
The message the governor sent out to Nigerians through the recent fraternization with the Muslims are enormous, instructive and emulative and need to be emphasized for the promotion of peace, love and national unity.
First, Governor Ugwuanyi’s action has reminded Nigerians that irrespective of our religion, ethnic and socio-political differences, we are one and should show love to one another in time of joy or sorrow. It has reaffirmed his commitment to the diligent responsibility of showing love to every resident of the state irrespective of religion or tribe. It has also shown that we can resolve our differences amicably, without any form of violence or bickering.
These are lessons to be drawn from Gov. Ugwuanyi’s recent disposition to the Muslims. The governor has taken the dance steps of peace, love, forgiveness and national unity to the market for us to emulate, purchase and practice in the overall interest of our nation. I sincerely salute him for this brave step geared towards the reinvigoration and sustainability of our founding fathers’ dreams. I also learnt that his arrival to the mosque caused a flurry of excitement which informed the rousing ovation he received from the Muslims.
I recall that the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji (Dr.) Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III had during his official visit to Enugu State, last year, expressed delight at the level of popularity Gov. Ugwuanyi enjoys from the people of the state including non-indigenes, disclosing that 95 percent of Muslims in the state are in support of the governor and what he is doing to promote peace, security, national unity and good governance.
I also recall that the former Senate President and Chairman of the Constitution and Electoral Reform Committee, Senator Ken Nnamani, had applauded the governor for his respect for everybody irrespective of socio-political differences, saying “that Enugu State is lucky to now have a governor who has “a listening ear and respect for everybody, old and young in spite of political divide”.
In his Sallah message, Gov. Ugwuanyi “called on the Muslim faithful to use the period to offer special prayers for peaceful co-existence and national unity for the continued progress and sustainability of the dreams of the country’s founding fathers”.
He noted that “Eid-el-Fitr offers an opportunity for both Muslim and Christian faithful to continue to live in harmony for the progress of the country”, adding that the country’s strength lies in its diversity and ability to overcome challenges despite socio-political differences.
The governor’s message summarizes that Nigerians should at all time demonstrate true love for one another as well as reaffirm their faith in God for peace, progress and unity to reign supreme towards the realization of the country’s full potentials.
It is also instructive to note that on the side of the Muslims in the state, their Leader, HRH Alhaji Yusuf Sambo, (the Sarkin Hausawa) while welcoming Governor Ugwuanyi praised him for the surprise visit after he had earlier sent gift items to them through a representative.
Alhaji Sambo according to the report said that the gesture was “a demonstration of his love for every resident of the state irrespective of religion or tribe”.
He added that the governor had paid similar visit to them last year and has continued to ensure that the harmonious relationship that has been existing between Muslims and Christians in the state is sustained.
The Muslims equally extended their gratitude to the people of the state for the existing harmonious relationship and promised to ensure that it is sustained for the benefit of the state and the country at large.
From the above fluid narrative, Gov. Ugwuanyi’s name has been written in gold in the book of history as one of the country’s nationalists, who have shown tremendous commitment to the unity and peaceful co-existence of Nigeria. I hope that more leaders should emulate his deep sense of patriotism to forge a common force that will continue to promote peace, love, progress and unity as one indivisible entity – the noble dreams of our founding fathers.
Audu wrote from Lokoja, Kogi State.