The Director General, Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA), Dr. Debo Akande has debunked a story linking him to the deliberate closure of Islamic praying ground at the agency’s headquarters located at Total Garden area of Ibadan.
It would be recalled that Muslim Community in Oyo state MUSCOY had in a statement accused director general of the Oyo State Agricultural, Oyo State Agri-Business Development Agency, OYSADA, Dr. Debo Akande of shutting down the Mosque and Christian Fellowship Centre within the agency’s premises.
According to the statement, the DG asked the adherents of the two faiths to worship in the same place.
Dr. Debo in a copy of the statement made available to journalists on Thursday stressed that the development came as a shock to him and other good people of the state.
He also maintained that the description of him by the statement as “anti-Islam” and a despot who unilaterally decided to “stop Muslims from obeying the command of Allah,” runs contrary to everything that OYSADA stands for and represents.
He said: “OYSADA will not spend so much time dissecting the MUSCOY press statement, it is important to clarify the circumstances which led to the OYSADA management requesting that the praying areas used by both Muslims and Christians at the agency be discontinued”.
The statement maintained “We have deliberately used the phrase “praying area” because to describe the structure used as a “mosque” is demeaning.
OYSADA DG further stressed that the buildings in question are Muslim praying ground (mosque), Christian praying ground (Chapel), Toilet and Store, noted that the facilities are currently not fit for use.
He maintained:” These were the major considerations that led to the temporary closure of these areas, contrary to what was presented in the statement, stressing that separate rooms were provided and assigned for prayers to Muslims and Christians.”
Some of the staffs of the Agency that spoke with journalists that were on assessment tour of the facilities on Wednesday also confirmed that the closure of the facilities became necessary due to the deplorable state of the affected structures.
A senior staff who briefed journalists on condition of anonymity stated that after returning from the pandemic break, they met the toilet in a deplorable condition, the stench was so bad that they had to restrict the use of the worship centres as well as the storage facility.”
He said, “The plan was to quickly renovate the place, so that we can go back to using them. But as I speak to you the file is still being processed, we held a meeting with our boss Dr. Debo Akande that we are expose to security threat as unknown faces were seeing sleeping inside our worship centers
during productive hours and even over night.
” After the fruitful meeting with our boss, this gate was constructed by boss himself, but promised a befitting toilet, storage and praying areas for us.
“He continues, “We have been living together in peace and harmony here, there is no any rancour between the Muslim and christians faithful workers here. Some people just want to aggravate the situation to suit a narrative”.
In his contributions, Mr Fajimi, the former Director of Administrative Services at OYSADA and a Muslim who was also on ground to brief journalists on the matter at hand said he was privy to be at the meeting held with members of MUSCOY.
He further maintained that there was no plan to keep the area permanently closed stressing that Dr. Debo used his personal resource to fix the entrance gate when the staff approached him over the insecurity of staffs and theft of the agency’ materials.
“We all agreed for the temporary closure of those affected structures due to their deplorable states and this was communicated to the leadership of MUSCOY, who were urged to enable needed rehabilitation to be done.
Fajimi further stressed that, “there was no plan to leave the place permanently closed. Dr Akande has said the place will be re-opened after meeting with management. [MUSCOYS] should have reported exactly what happened and not present this story the way they did. It is high time journalists verify their stories before dissemination, they should always try to find out the true situation before they begin to tell stories.”
“Come to think of it, if he is anti-Muslim for closing a mosque as stated in the falsehood report, is he also anti-Christian? Surely, if one religion was being exalted above the other, the Christians would be allowed to continue using their space while Muslims were stopped.”
“Interestingly, Alhaji Dawud Makanjuola Akinola the Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Edo and Delta States, who has waded into the matter, saw the need to ensure the hygienic and pious worship by Ummah, by commencing the construction of modern toilet facilities for the OYSADA mosque.If there was nothing wrong with the facility, why would they want to expedite repairs?
“It is worthy of note that Dr Akande, who is being accused of being anti-Muslim, attended Islamic Mission Primary School, Bode Ibadan, after which he attained a Diploma in Islamic Studies to deepen his knowledge of the Islamic faith.”
“In his previous role with the British Council, he designed a major project on climate and faith where he worked extensively with His Eminence Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto and the President General of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA); Sheikh Dr. Qaribullah Sheikh Nasir Kabara, the spiritual leader of Qadiriyya Sufi Order in Nigeria and West Africa; and Christian leaders like Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Prelate of the Roman Catholic Church in Nigeria and other similar faith leaders across 12 countries in Africa.”
“Similar to many families in Oyo State, although he is a Christian, Dr Akande has relatives that are of muslim faithfuls. While this is election season, it is important that the good people of Oyo State resist any attempts to use issues of religion to divide and polarize us. Governor Seyi Makinde has always maintained zero tolerance to religious discrimination, and it is these very tenets that everyone in his administration, including Dr Debo Akande, has strictly adhered to. Fajimi said.
Journalists that visited OYSADA were conducted round the structures of the agency, met some affected facilities under locks, and also attested to the fact that the structures really needs proper renovations for conducive usage of staffs, most especially the toilet and storage facilities situated in between the chapel and mosque at the agency.
It is very obvious that proper renovations of the facilities will put an end to the stenches coming from the toilet which is not only affecting the worshippers but the staff at large.