Behold! Biggest Mosque in South-west, Nay Nigeria
*Historic mosque inaugurated in Aiyepe-Ijebu
*Built on a land area of 30,000 square metres
*Main mosque area covers 6,400 square metres
**It can accommodate 5, 000 worshippers
*Ablution centre occupies 850 square metres
*Mosque took 27 years to build
It is easily the biggest mosque in South-west, perhaps in Nigeria. No wonder Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun, his Osun State counterpart, Ogbeni Rauuf Aregbesola, and many other Islamic faithful all converged on Aiyepe-Ijebu for the inauguration of the mosque. ADEBAYO NURUDEEN reports…
When an invitation got to him about the plans to open the edifice, Sultan of Sokoto, President General, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, was reported to have said: “A mosque of this magnitude, if I’m still alive on that day, I will be there.” And true to his promise, Sultan Abubakar breezed into Aiyepe-Ijebu in Odogbolu Local Government Area of Ogun State recently for the opening of the biggest mosque in South-west – the Aiyepe Central Mosque.
The 5,000-capacity-mosque is situated in an historical town, Aiyepe-Ijebu, which came into existence in1831. The town is a product of the people’s resolve to live together as one community. Prior to their union, the people of present Aiyepe-Ijebu used to live in different enclaves, then referred to as Orile. They were six in number then and these included: Orile Aba; Orile Idobiri, Orile Odobiwisanwa; Orile Odolowu; Orile Afo and Orile Ilafo.
The centre of the quarters was occupied by Odolowu and this informed the unanimous decision to stay very close to Odolowu. The decision also bothered on security as the time coincided with the Yoruba inter tribal war era. After their resolve to come together, the next task was a name for the new town and Oju Aiyepe, which was modified to Aiyepe, was adopted. Despite living as an entity, the originality of each of the six Oriles remained and this is evident in each having separate monarch. They are Alaiye Oba of Aba; Obiri of Idobiri; Olubisanwa of Idobisanwa; Olowu of Odolowu; Alakan of Ilakan and Akalako of Afo, Aiyepe-ijebu. The traditional rulers from the outset shared traditional faith. But after coming together, many embraced Christianity and Islamic religion. But Islam brought unprecedented glory to the town, placing it on the world map for tourists to visit. Even an Egba-born Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun marveled at the structure of the mosque. He promised to liaise with Imams in Egbaland to see how they could replicate such gigantic edifice in their domain.
Arrival of Sultan, Awujale Enlivened Atmosphere
The arrival of Sultan Abubakar and Awujale and paramount ruler of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona enlivened the atmosphere.
Visitors could easily dub the event as ‘carnival like’. To the indigenes, it was another ‘Aiyepe Day’ being celebrated.
Only those privileged to have the information before hand via media and other publicity apparatus knew the essence of the arrival of the two great monarchs.
The event attracted Islamic scholars and Chief Imams across the South-west and neighbouring Edo State. They were led by Sheikh Mustapha Ajisafe, President-General, Council of Chief Imams and Alfas in South-west and Edo/Delta.
Also royal fathers came in their large numbers to felicitate with their fellow monarchs in the town. It was a day of cultural displays with Yoruba and Hausa displaying the best of their culture.
While the Yoruba shone in their traditional Agbada, Buba and Sokoto, the Hausa capped their dresses with turban.
When the Yoruba proudly employed the use of Gangan and Iya Ilu – talking drums to praise their monarchs, the Hausa retaliated with their Kakaaki – long flute. The crowd yelled in response to the excellent show of culture and brotherhood and chanted
Allahu Akbar (Allah is the greatest!).
Aiyepe-Ijebu Christian Community Also Came Out
The religious tolerance that distinguishes South-west from other regions was brought to the fore. The Aiyepe-Ijebu Christian community came out in their numbers to felicitate with their Muslims brothers. They embraced one another to the delight of the gathering. An elated Oba Adetona enthused: “This is our culture, this is what gives us pride and we cannot thank Allah enough for the peaceful co-existence between different tribes and religious sects.
“There is no house or family in the South-west that you do not have Muslims and Christians as members of the households and we live in peace; we do not discriminate because we are brothers”.
Amosun’s and his Osun State counterpart Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola’s arrival further electrified the atmosphere. The duo, who came in one after another, went round to exchange pleasantries with the low and the mighty as if they planned it together. The gathering was impressed with their humility gesture.
The three hours event started on a prayer note. It featured recitation from the Holy Quran, keynote address, soul-inspiring lecture and prayers for the nation.
Oyefeso: Mosque Built on Land Area of 30,000 Square Metres
In his welcome address, Aiyepe Muslim Community Chairman, Alhaji Musibau Oyefeso, described the mosque as one of the biggest in the country. Oyefeso said the mosque is built on a land area of 30,000 square metres with the main mosque covering 6,400 square metres and ablution centre on 850 square metres. According to Oyefeso, work on the over 5,000 worshippers capacity mosque commenced in 1987. The mosque is worth two billion naira.
“It is indeed a great honour and privilege for me to welcome you all to this historic event representing a major milestone in the life of Aiyepe Community and Ogun State in general. It is a well-known fact that Aiyepe is predominantly populated by Muslims, who in so many ways, have demonstrated their unusual love for the practice of Islam. This edifice before us all is a testimony to that fact,” he said. Oyefeso paid glowing tributes to those who pioneered the project in October 1987 and saluted those whose efforts have seen the mosque to its present state.
Oba Adetona: Mosque Testimony to Great Things Happening in Ijebuland
Oba Adetona, who chaired the occasion, congratulated the people of Aiyepe for the wonderful initiative. The mosque, he said, is another testament to the great things happening in Ijebuland.
“It is rare to see a community in this country to have this kind of structure. May Allah bless those behind this project especially the late Prince Shaffi Shittu and the late Alhaji Salabiu Ladejobi. Like the name of this town- Oju aye pe si aaye yii (the world eyes are here),” he said. The revered monarch showered encomiums on Sultan Abubakar for his efforts at uniting the Muslims in the country and peaceful co-existence with non-Muslims.
NSCIA Secretary-General, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, delivered a keynote address on the Importance of Mosque.
Mosque, Oloyede said, is not only a worship centre, rather a place of learning. “The mosque is also a temporary accommodation for visitors to any town, a court of law, centre of socialisation and training centre. We are not surprised that the first university in the world started in the mosque,” he said.
Erudite scholar Sheikh Muyideen Ajani Bello in his lecture, enjoined the community to remain united and refrain from assisting one another in evil deeds. He challenged them to ensure the maintenance of the mosque.
Aregbesola Commends Those Behind Mosque
Ogbeni Aregbesola described the mosque as great development for Islam and Muslims.He said: “If not that Makkan mosque is bigger and has more reward to stay than other mosques in the world, I would have come here to perform I’tikaf (seclusion in the mosque for the last ten days of Ramadan) but we all know that mosque is bigger than mosque,” he said.
Amosun praised Insight Communication boss, Mr. Biodun Sobanjo, a Christian who donated one million naira during the fundraiser for the maintenance of the mosque.
“Though you are Omo Alhaja, you have demonstrated that whether you are a Muslim or Christian, we are one,” he said.
He congratulated Oba Adetona for witnessing the opening of the mosque he laid its foundation 27 years ago.
After the commissioning of the mosque by Sultan Abubakar, the NSCIA President-General led the Jama’ah (Congregation) in Zuhr prayer. Afterwards, the large gathering was entertained with various cuisines including the Ijebu dishes – Ebiripo and