PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has appealed to Nigerians to jettison their prejudices and strengthen the bonds of friendship and unity so as to keep the country together. President Buhari in his message to Nigerians on the occasion of the Eid-El-Kabir celebration thanked “all Nigerians who prayed for my recovery and have continued to extend their goodwill and support after my return to the country. Indeed your fervent and sincere prayers, which cut across religion, political and ethnic divides, has energised me to re-dedicate myself and this administration to the task of building a great Nigeria.”
He said further: “On the joyous occasion of this year’s Eid-El-Kabir celebration, I appeal to all Nigerians to rise against the odds, keep our prejudices aside and strengthen the bonds of friendship and unity to keep our country together.”
Other eminent Nigerians, including Bukola Saraki, president of the Senate and Yakubu Dogara, speaker of the House of Representatives, admonished Muslim faithful to work tirelessly, for a united and virile Nigeria.
Saraki predicted that the celebration of Eid-El-Kabir and jummat on the same day (Friday) meant economic rebound and assurance of double blessings to Muslim faithful across the country.
He said he had no doubt that this year would witness the rebound of the nation’s economy and that the positive effects would trickle down to individual homes and help citizens to realise their aspirations.
Saraki’s message was contained in a statement by Yusuph Olaniyonu, his special adviser on Media and Publicity issued on Thursday, August 31, in Abuja. He called on all Nigerians, irrespective of religion, to use the occasion to pray and rededicate themselves to the dreams of building a strong, united and economically and politically stable country.
He urged all Nigerians to be law-abiding and support the administration in its bid to tackle insecurity, unemployment, corruption and underperforming economy.
In his sallah message, Dogara said Nigeria could only fulfill its great potential as a nation if the citizens continued to foster unity, peace, security and stability as well as show greater respect and love for one another.
“This is a moment for sober reflections; I enjoin you to use the period to uphold the spiritual benefit of the celebration by extending a hand of friendship and solidarity across all divides and imbibing the spirit of sacrifice and obedience to the higher authority as exemplified by Prophet Ibrahim and upheld by Prophet Muhammed,” he said.
The speaker reiterated his call for sustained prayers for the leadership of the country at all levels, saying: “This is an opportunity for us to reflect and pray for our nation; pray for our dear president for God’s guidance and good health and pray for all those in leadership positions so that God in his infinite mercy will continue to guide them as they steer the affairs of the country.”
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar enjoined the Muslim faithful to join hands in tackling the nefarious activities of extremists bent on destroying the humane virtues of Islam. In his sallah message to Muslims, Abubakar advised Muslims to reclaim the religion which is being hijacked by violent extremists whose atrocities portray Islam in bad light.
The Wazirin Adamawa expressed sadness that the activities of the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency group have economically destroyed the north, in particular the north-east, and disrupted its social life.
“As a citizen of the north-east, I have a firsthand experience of the impact of terrorism on our people’s daily lives,” he said. He called for rigorous scrutiny and vigilance to guard against the influence of extremism, including exposing innocent students and followers to their virulent ideas.
Abubakar advised parents to be wary of letting their children follow any preacher and thereby, falling victims of indoctrination, warning that poisonous ideas are as destructive as a bomb.
While wishing Muslim leaders a happy and hitch-free celebration, the former vice president said they should show increased commitment to peaceful coexistence and tolerance in line with the demands of the Muslim faith and Nigeria’s diversity.
According to him, love and peace should not only be preached, but must also be put into practice for the sake of sustaining the peace in the land. The former vice president advised Nigerians to eschew religious bigotry, and condemned politicians who use ethnic and religious sentiments to gain power.
In his message, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, who congratulated Nigerians on the sallah celebration, said: “The significance of the season should be beyond the festivities but towards a sincere commitment to righteous conducts in private and public lives.
“As we celebrate this auspicious occasion, let us renew our faith in our nation and implore the almighty God to restore to us those values that place high premium on human life, love of neighbour and sharing even as we ventilate our faith in the unity of our dear country. This period requires more patience, fortitude, tolerance, endurance, patriotism and a greater willingness to make personal sacrifices for the good of all.”
Kayode Fayemi, minister of Mines and Steel Development, in his message, urged Nigerians to continue to uphold the lessons of love, loyalty and sacrifice which are the hallmarks of the festival.
“We can collectively confront our challenges as a nation and build a truly peaceful and prosperous Nigeria by acknowledging the supremacy of God, demonstrating genuine love and respect for one another and commitment to peaceful living,” Fayemi said in a statement.
Also, the All Progressives Congress, APC, in a statement signed by John Odigie-Oyegun, its national chairman, advised Nigerians to eschew all forms of violence, live in peaceful co-existence and be their brother’s keeper.
“Recently, the nation has witnessed some agitations with the potential of undermining the unity and our relationship across religious and ethnic divides. As a party, we believe it is in our collective interest to support and remain steadfast to the cause of a united Nigeria as our strength remains in our diversity,” the party said.
Similarly, David Mark, a former president of the Senate, canvassed for justice, righteousness and peaceful coexistence among Nigerians.
Mark, in a statement, asked Nigerian authorities at all levels to cultivate “a peace building mechanism for the various groups so that the present misconceptions in some quarters would not snow ball into bigger crises.”
The Eid-el-Kabir celebration kicks off on Friday. Already Friday, September 1 and Monday, September 4, have been set aside as public holidays for the celebration.
– Sept. 1, 2017 @ 13:31 GMT /