By Akeem Abas
Ibadan – Gov. Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State has declared Monday, Oct. 3 as public holiday to mark the Islamic New Year, 1438 AH, which begins on Monday.
He made the declaration on Sunday at the 1438 Hijrah Grand Rally organised by the National Council of Muslim Youth Organisations (NACOMYO) at Ibadan.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Oct. 3 is the lunar month of Muharram, which is the first month of the Islamic calendar.
The Islamic year calendar had started counting in 622 AD after the emigration of Prophet Muhammed from Mecca to Medina in Saudi-Arabia.
Ajimobi stated that Hijrah, the beginning of the new year in the Islamic calendar was another opportunity for Muslims worldwide to reflect on their past and channel a new way of life.
“Hijrah symbolises a new beginning. It is the state of improving on the past into a new status. Hijrah began when the holy Prophet Muhammed migrated from Mecca to Medina,” he said.
He enjoined Muslims to exhibit good character towards their neighbours, saying it was the only way their prayers could be answered by God.
Ajimobi urged parents to give their wards proper upbringing and mentoring, as it was the only way to prepare them for greater heights in life.
Speaking on education, the governor said that the new education policy to be implemented in the state would be all-inclusive.
To this end, he noted that all stakeholders would be involved in the implementation and supervision of the schools.
He assured the people of his administration’s determination to improve the standard of education in the state through the employment of quality personnel and standard facilities.
Ajimobi commended the Muslim community in the state for their unflinching support at all times.
Dr Sakariyau Babalola, the Deputy President-General, Nigeria Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), urged Muslims to use the occasion of Hijrah to reflect on their past deeds.
Babalola, who was represented by Alhaji Afeez Timehin, his Personal Assistant said that reflecting on their past deeds would enable them to improve on their attitudes in line with the virtues of the holy prophet.
Earlier, Alhaji Dawood Afolabi, the Coordinator, NACOMYO, Oyo State chapter, appealed to the governor to also declare the first day of Muharram as public holiday in the state.
Afolabi said that the theme for the year’s Hijrah; “Recession or Depression: Islam Holds the Hope’’, was timely.
“At a time like this when the nation is faced with economic recession, and the Islamic nations have been turned to theatres of war, we need to resort to prayers like the holy prophet did for Saudi-Arabia.’’
Afolabi stated that there was the issue of hijab across the world, but expressed joy that many more important non-Muslims were embracing Islam on daily basis.
“Simon Collis, the British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia has accepted Islam and performed hajj this year with his wife.
“I appeal to those who are still sitting on the fence to embark on the Noah’s Ark of the time in accepting Islam,’’ he said.
NAN reports that the event featured match past by Islamic schools across the state.
NAN also reports that the event was attended by the Minister of Communications, Mr Adebayo Shittu, Secretary to Oyo State Government, Alhaji Ishmael Alli, Sen. Adesoji Akanbi, and a former Deputy Governor of the state, Alhaji Hazeem Gbolarumi.
Others are; Alhaji Kunle Sanni, Chairman, Muslim Community of Oyo, Prof. Kamil Oloso, Alhaja Sekinat Adekola, Iya Adini of Yorubaland, Alhaja Segilola Badmus and hosts of other dignitaries.