By Tanko Mohammed
The scourge of coronavirus pandemic dominated Goodwill messages sent by Nigerian leaders, including President Muhammadu Buhari, to mark Eid-el-Kabir on Friday.
Nigerian Muslims on July 31, joined their counterparts in the world to hold a solemn and low key celebration in the face of increasing cases of covid-19 pandemic.
As part of Covid-19 safety measures, Muslims observed the two `Rakat’ prayers in their local mosques against the usual central prayer grounds.
President Buhari appealed to Nigerians to continue to exercise patience and understanding over the inconveniences created by the precautionary measures taken for COVID-19, especially the regulations on places of worship.
In his Eid-el-Kabir message issued by presidential spokesman, Mr Garba Shehu, Buhari said the outbreak of coronavirus has made it difficult for people to gather in places of worship as they are used to.
He urged worshippers to follow the guidelines for the safety of their lives, and loved ones, the president.
“The coronavirus has had devastating impacts on our social, economic and spiritual lives. The preventive guidelines we have introduced to contain the spread of this deadly disease has unfortunately limited people’s freedom to gather and worship in large numbers in mosques and Churches.
“Every measure that has been introduced to contain this disease may have its unintended consequences on the daily lives of our people, and I, therefore, call on Muslims and other faiths to continue to show more understanding with the government as we take correct steps to protect our people through social distancing.
“No elected government would intentionally take away its people’s religious freedom by limiting the number of people that will gather in worship centres at the same time.
“These guidelines are dictated by necessity in order to safeguard public health and should therefore not be perceived as an infringement on people’s right to worship,’’ he said.
The President of the Senate, Mr Ahmad Lawan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, state governors and some prominent Nigerians felicitated with Muslims and called for tolerance and unity.
Lawan said Islam’s feast of sacrifice was very significant to the faith as it reminds them of the imperative of unconditional obedience to Allah, the Most Merciful.
“Through total submission to His will, we can confidently confront our challenges as individuals and as a nation,” he said.
“As people of faith, therefore, let us continue to seek the face of the Almighty in our various national wars, be they against insecurity or the COVID-19 pandemic, and as we strive to make Nigeria a comfortable home for all its citizens.’’
Gbajabiamila, also advised Muslims to rededicate themselves to their Creator and pray for the country during this period of Eid-el-Kabir.
Gbajabiamila said the need for prayers became more pressing at this time that the coronavirus pandemic is ravaging the world, including Nigeria.
The Speaker said with fervent prayers, Nigeria would be able to surmount the numerous challenges bedevilling the country, including insecurity.
In a Sallah message the Speaker urged Nigerians, irrespective of their differences, to embrace one another and be united for the progress of the country.
Deputy Senate President , Mr Omo Agege called for celebrations that must necessarily include cautiousness about the lingering COVID- 19 pandemic.
The Senator also emphasised the significance of having a strong belief in God’s words, adding that as Muslims across the world come together to celebrate Eid-el-Kabir, it is an opportunity for Christians to celebrate with their compatriots.
Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau and chairman of the Northern Governors Forum also rejoiced with Nigerian Muslims and urged them not to allow the impact of the Corona virus pandemic to demoralise their faith.
Gombe State governor, Mr Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, admonished the faithful to remain steadfast in prayers for peace, prosperity and development of the state, as well as for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The governor said, “Although this year’s celebration is coming at a period the world is still grappling with the novel coronavirus pandemic and its devastating impact on lives and means of livelihood of the people, such should not distract us from learning the good lessons of the festival which teaches compassion, selfishness, love and obedience to the commands of Almighty Allah.”
Former Senate president, Mr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, called on Muslims to pray for the unity, development and security of Nigeria.
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