The General Overseer of Oketude Ministry, Dr. Samsindeen Saka has said that religion is a very sensitive part of human existence to which a lot of sentiments are attached.
Saka disclosed this while speaking on his idea of advocating for peaceful co-existence between Christians and Muslims, an idea that was conceived while he was on the pilgrimage to Mecca in 1989.
Continuing, he said he had initially resisted the idea when it came to him but on his return home he got a divine direction.
“This idea was something I initially resisted due to the complexity and sentiments religious beliefs generates in a country like ours but on my arrival to Nigeria I prayed over it for divine guidance and direction. Based on my belief and conviction, I informed my father, grandmother and wives about this vision but as expected, the idea was resisted as my families could not marry me, a successful herbalist to be an advocate of religious tolerance and co-existence.
“They also argued the motive and intention towards this course since there was no immediate gain of monetary value but it will rather attract wide spread condemnation and criticism from the general public and alas it did,” he explained.
The visioneer said he dropped the idea since there was no support for it but the seed won’t die in him.
Due to his strong conviction and belief in the course, he took up the challenge despite his limited knowledge of the Bible and the Quran.
The three questions that confronted him he said were:
“How do I convince people to buy into the vision and the goal? What name do I call this vision that will be accepted to all and catch the fancies of people? When and how do I launch this vision?”
On how he came about the name “Christlamherb,” Saka said, “The name was coined out of the desire for Christians and Muslims to heed the call of a so called herbalist.”
According to him, the name has nothing to do with any idea of fusing the three religions.
Aim and objectives of the movement he said are –
- To advocate for tolerance, love, peaceful co-existence between Christian and Muslims.
- To bridge the gap between Christianity and Islam
- To propagate the message that Christians and Muslims are cousins as they share a common source from Abraham who is regarded as the father of all.
- That they are promises of God made to Abraham.
- To preach good news to the broken hearted and give hope to the hopeless through prayer and counseling
- Support the less privileged and vulnerable in the society.
Saka also said the vision of the organisation include –
- To raise evangelists on religious tolerance, love and peaceful co-existence, who will spread the message throughout the country in particular and the world in general.
- To be a reference point in all religious conflict resolution.
He however did not fail to list the achievement of the group. According to him, the group since the inauguration at the Tafawa Balewa Square in Lagos has achieved numerous goals including a successful familiarization tour of the south west geo political zone of Nigeria during which traditional and religious leaders were visited.
He said he sent letters to the government at different tiers. Another major achievement of his ogranisation was the publishing and distribution of literatures including “The true message,” and “Similarities in Bible and Quran.”
However, the organisation has also matched its words with action as it has set aside every 28th February as a day to support the less privileged.
“We have set aside 28 February of every year to invite, entertain and give food items, clothing and money to the less privileged. One of our major achievements is the acceptance we are beginning to get from the two religious bodies as some Churches and mosques are now encouraging their pastors or Imams to learn to read the two Holy books.
“It will also interest you to know that some Muslims through our radio programs are motivated to read the Holy Bible same with the Christians who are also motivated to read the Holy Quran. As a result of our message of religious tolerance, issues of hate speech at religious crusades between the two religious bodies have greatly reduced, with both parties now complimenting themselves on the pulpit.”
Saka who noted the challenges he has encountered during his 30 years advocacy, also said he would not be discouraged but would forge ahead in the next level and aspirations of the mission.
“We intend to surpass or consolidate on the present achievements by reaching out to other geopolitical zones of the country to enlighten them about the economic and social benefits of religious tolerance, love and peaceful co-existence irrespective of our religious divide and bias,” he said.
He is of the opinion that with his kind of movement, religious intolerance would be a thing of the past in Nigeria in a short while.
“The major cause of this crisis can be attributed to ignorance. We wish to achieve this objective by using the same template we used in the south west in other areas of the country but this will require more efforts, human resources and of course enormous resources which we envisaged is far above our present human and financial resources,” he said.
According to him, to achieve the goals of the mission, there would be a need to establish a school to teach people on religious harmony and thus the mission would need massive support.
Saka who has run the ministry with proceeds from his agriculture/animal husbandry projects however said the mission would need sponsors to expand and achieve its aims.
The needs of the ministry according to him include an upgraded auditorium, a means of transportation for the students/members, a recreation centre for the retired persons, adequate power supply via an independent power source for its estate.
Other needs include an entrepreneurial centre, a farm land from the government for those who want to engage in agriculture, a music studio for students and members of the mission, a secured accommodation, a hospital, a Bible and Quranic library.
The visioneer also said, the mission has already acquired 2,500 hectares of land at Ogijo, Igode in Ogun State, Nigeria where he wishes to establish the camp.
“All the above challenges and incapability made me to reach out for intelligence, physical and financial supports in order to achieve our aims.
“Our mission can also assist the government in de-radicalising the restive religious groups in other parts of the country and by extension stop the present insurgency in the northern part of the country so that we can once again experience love, peace and brotherhood just like in the days of our heroes past hence their labours shall not be in vain.
“This work cannot be completed by me alone but with your support and a good foundation being laid for the success of this mission, I strongly believe that the vision will be achieved and peaceful co-existence shall be a norm between all religious in the world and the era of radicalisms and hate speeches shall be a thing of the past,” he concluded.