As Islamic faithfuls across the world mark Eid-el-Kabir, which is the culmination of the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca and a day of communal prayer, Nigerian leaders have felicitating with the adherents.
Among the leaders who exhibited solidary with the Muslim community and Nigerians generally are President Muhammadu Buhari, Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, former Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki and Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege.
In his Eid-el Kabir message by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, President Buhari called on Nigerians to put the interest of the country above selfish interests and “use religion as a motivation for the love of our common humanity.”
He said that “if we are putting the teachings of our religions into practice, most of the evils afflicting our society would have been solved”.
According to the President, “religion shouldn’t just be used as a mere badge of identity, but as a motivator for doing good for our country and humanity”.
He explained that “the exploitation of the people by traders and the stealing of public funds by civil servants and other holders of public trust is a reflection of the abandonment of the teachings of our religions.
“Our society is a bundle of contradictions. People display external religiosity without fear of God; they make life difficult for others; money becomes their god; leaders abandon their oaths of office by taking money meant for the welfare of the people and divert it to their private pockets”.
President Buhari congratulated the Muslim Ummah in Nigeria and the world on the occasion of the Eid, citing for special mention, “the brave men and women in uniform fighting terror on many fronts and their families, as well as others held hostage and kept away from their families by wicked and heartless terrorists”.
He used the occasion to call on all Muslims to reflect on the significance of the sacrifice epitomised by Eid.
According to the President: “We should show love and care to our neighbours and others while celebrating this spiritually important event in our lives”.
President Buhari also advised Muslims “to promote the good virtues of Islam through personal examples and practice,” adding that “Muslims should avoid association with violent extremist ideas that have wrongly given Islam a negative image or poor perception”.
On the current security challenges and costs of living in the country, the President assured Nigerians that “I won’t rest until I bring relief to Nigerians”, adding that “I am quite aware of the difficulties people are facing and working to resolve them”.
For Governor Sanwo-Olu, peaceful co-existence among Lagos residents and Nigerians was the thrust of his message as he rejoiced with Muslims on the occasion of the Eid.
He also advised Nigerians, especially Muslims to imbibe the lessons of the sacrifice made by Prophet Ibrahim and work for the unity, peace and progress of the nation.
Sanwo-Olu’s message issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Gboyega Akosile enjoined Lagosians to draw lessons from the Prophet’s examples by eschewing tendencies that could disturb the peace, unity and stability in the country.
“On behalf of my family and the Government of Lagos State, I wish all our Muslim brothers and sisters in Lagos State and in Nigeria a happy and peaceful Eid-el-Kabir celebration. Eid-al-Adha is a symbolic event in the history of mankind, given the bountiful rewards that followed the patience and perseverance of Prophet Ibrahim, who held on tenaciously to his faith in God despite being afflicted.
“This symbolic Islamic festival is a reminder to us that there will always be great rewards when we have abiding faith and patience in trying periods; persistence in prayers and tenacity in our beliefs. It also reminds us of the sacrifice we are expected to make not only for the purpose of spiritual fulfillment but also for the progress of mankind and development of our society”, he said.
The governor, who is seeking re-election in next year’s governorship election, also urged Lagos residents to continue to support his administration’s efforts in building a “Greater Lagos” that works for all, adding that he is committed to delivering his campaign promises in line with the six-pillar THEMES developmental agenda.
He also called on Nigerians to continue to support the President Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) government to keep Nigeria on the path of unity, peace and development.
In his own message, former Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki congratulated Nigerian Muslims and other faithfuls across the world on this year’s Eid-el-Kabir festival, while also urging them not to get tired of praying for peace, security, and prosperity around the globe.
Saraki, in the message signed by the Head of his Media Office, Barrister Yusuph Olaniyonu, reminded Muslims of the significance of Eid-el-Kabir which symbolised obedience to Allah, genuine sacrifice to and faith in their Creator as well as the desire for peace, as he further advised the faithfuls to always demonstrate these values in their daily activities.
He advised the Ummah in Nigeria to use the occasion of the festival to pray for peace, security, unity and prosperity in the country because, as he emphasised, “the lack of these elements is threatening to disintegrate Nigeria and set her people against each other”.
“One cannot but note that this Sallah period has only advertised the endemic poverty, unemployment, and anger in our country as people in millions of homes cannot happily celebrate Sallah due to economic hardship, violence that has displaced them from their homestead, the resultant loss of dear ones due to untoward activities of non-state actors who have waged war against the state, family members who are being held in kidnappers’ den and the ones who suffer from various ailments without the ability to pay for good health care.
“The situation in the country is very dire and is threatening to drive happiness away from the land. Even then, millions of people will troop to the various praying grounds on Sallah day to give glory to Almighty Allah for preserving them and to also make more requests to the ultimate provider. I enjoin those who are fortunate to go to the praying grounds to remember to pray for our country and our fellow citizens who wish to join the prayers but could not make it because of one unfortunate incident or the other beyond their control.
“Nigerian Muslims should rise together and pray for the country and the citizenry. We should ask Allah to forgive our sins and restore peace and prosperity in our country. We should call on Almighty Allah to heal our land and help us defeat all those who have waged wars against the country.
“Muslims should use the Eid-el-Kabir festival to rededicate ourselves to Allah and truly demonstrate the values recommended by our religion in our actions, activities, and transactions. Those who are fortunate to have should share with the less privileged and live happily and with tolerance for people of other faiths and tongues.
“As we get ready to go to the polls next year to elect new leaders, we should pray for the guidance of Allah in doing what is right and working honestly for the elections to produce leaders whose policies, programmes, and projects will restore unity, peace, stability, prosperity, inclusivity, justice, equity and patriotism in our country.
“It is necessary to reiterate my usual prayers for the men and women in the various security services who are on the frontlines and genuinely fighting to secure the country and halt the menace posed by the deviants seeking to destroy the country. May the protection of Almighty Allah be on such patriotic and loyal security officials and may He give them victory against the warmongers”.
Senator Omo-Agege anchored his own felicitation on faith, hope and commitment with which he believed Nigeria would surmount its challenges.
The Deputy President of the Senate, who is also the APC governorship candidate in Delta State, called on Muslims to use the period of Eid- el-Kabir to renew hope and pray for Nigeria to overcome its present challenges.
In the statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Yomi Odunuga, the Senate’s No 2 urged Nigerians to sustain hope, faith and commitment in the manner that Abraham and his household did, adding that the country’s current challenges would be overcome in due course.
Omo-Agege expressed the readiness of the ninth National Assembly to work with the Buhari administration to ensure that Nigerians enjoy the dividends of democracy by actualising all the people-focused programmes as espoused by the APC’s ‘Next Level’ agenda.
He also called on Nigerians not to allow themselves to be weighed down by negative news, rumours and speculations from the social media, stressing that the preoccupation of a few individuals’ with bad news should not be allowed to destroy the hope and optimistic outlook of many.
“As Nigerian Muslims join the rest of the world to celebrate the Eid- el-Kabir festivities, I rejoice with them and wish them a hitch-free Sallah celebration.
“We must continue to sustain hope, faith and commitment to the nation’s cause, irrespective of our vocational callings and we must strengthen the spirit of oneness, regardless of religious, ethnic, regional, and political diversities, for that is the only way to build a greater Nigeria”, he stated.