Oyo State governor, ‘Seyi Makinde, on Thursday, appreciated the fathers of faith and the Christians in the state for their wise counsel, prayers and support all through 2023.
The governor equally acknowledged their efforts during the last electioneering, saying that the church has been a strong pillar of support for his administration.
The governor stated this during a special prayer and interactive session organised for him by the Fathers of Faith in Oyo State, a gathering that comprised notable General Overseers and Ministers of God in the state.
The event, held at his Ikolaba GRA residence, was attended by personalities such as the immediate past President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Reverend (Dr) ‘Supo Ayokunle; the President, Nigerian Baptist Convention, Reverend (Dr) Israel Akanji; Oyo State CAN Chairman, Col. Joshua Akinyemi (rtd); and the Chairman, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Oyo State chapter, Reverend Samson Ajetomobi, among others.
Governor Makinde explained that his administration was able to achieve his vision for the state under Omituntun 1.0 with the help of God, assuring that the government will make a greater impact under Omituntun 2.0, tagged Roadmap for Sustainable Development, 2023-2027.
He said: “This getting together to pray is very important to me. When we have a close gathering like this, I can speak my mind freely without being misquoted.
“I want to, on behalf of my family, say merry Christmas and compliments of the season and to wish all of us a happy and rewarding year 2024 ahead of us.
“Since after the election, this is the first opportunity I have to say thank you to the Christian body. By faith, we knew we were coming back for a second term. We achieved almost 90 per cent of all we wrote down in our Roadmap for Accelerated Development.
“We also put out a roadmap for sustainable development of the state for the second term and I pray that God will give us the enablement to achieve more than 90 per cent of those things we listed in the document.
“So, from the bottom of my heart I say thank you; the Church did not only pray to secure my second term but also went out. So, I want to thank you.”
The governor maintained that the country had been facing many challenges, but assured that better days are ahead.
He, however, warned individuals and groups looking for economic benefits for themselves to stop playing the religious cards so as not to divide the state.
“Of course, once you are on a trajectory where God is in control, envy will set in and that was exactly what happened a few weeks back when we were commissioning the Adogba mosque. I said it there that, look, a few individuals went out to tell Muslims not to vote for me but, when the result came in, 70 per cent of Muslims still voted for me. But then, they turned it and they were saying that I said 70 per cent of my votes came from Muslims.
“But let me thank the CAN Chairman; without even talking to me, he came to my defence. Officially, they went out and clarified the statement. I am saying here that without your prayers and the wise counsel coming from the fathers of faith and individuals from the Church, there is no way we can survive in this environment.
“So, I will give the assurance that I would not have accepted the pressure from the fathers of faith to run for a second tenure if I did not make up my mind to do even more than what we have done before. So, please put us in your prayers. Let the people know that the pillar of support for this administration is the Church,” he added.
The governor also addressed the ongoing controversy over the conversion of the Agodi Forest to Baywood Estate, noting that though the reality of global warming is not lost on his government, the decision on the estate was taken because it is in the best interest of the state.
He noted that his administration has always listened to the people of the state, because it is conscious of the fact that there will always be people who may know more than those in government, saying that the decision to construct a housing estate in the axis will serve the entire state.
“Some people were talking about Agodi Gardens. When they started the project, I asked somebody about the size of the forest and he said I should forget about the size, saying even if it is a tiny tree, we must protect it. And I said, no part of Agodi Gardens will be affected. What we said they should do is to convert the forest to an estate that will serve the people of Oyo State.
“I have asked some people involved in the issue of keeping the forest to come and debate with me on what we are trying to do on global warming and the rest. The challenges we are faced with are not like the ones the advanced countries are facing.
“What we need to do first is to take our people out of poverty. Once we can prosper, all of these things will come in properly.”
In his exhortation entitled, “the dialect of thanksgiving,” Reverend Ajetomobi charged people to be thankful in all circumstances, saying that only the living can change the situation around them.
He appreciated Governor Makinde for his unprecedented achievements, especially in the area of construction of roads, which has resulted in the expansion of the state economy, urging him not to relent in his efforts for more laudable impacts.