By Idowu Abdullahi,
As Muslims faithful across Nigeria prepares for this year’s eid-el-Fitri festivities, President Muhammadu Buhari, has called on Nigerians, particularly those of Muslim faith to engage in low-key celebrations as part of sacrifices needed to defeat the dreaded coronavirus pandemic within the nation’s border.
Other notable personalities and political figures who shared the President’s concerns include former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar; President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmed Lawan; the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; the Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde amongst others.
Buhari explained that since Muslims had endured the harsh conditions that come with this year’s Ramadan, including being prevented from the important traditional practices that would usually go along with the fasting, they would do well by topping it with a low-key celebration to solidify the gains already recorded against the virus in the country.
The President while felicitating with the adherents, through a statement released to newsmen his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, on Saturday, regretted the harsh condition which culminated to the thirty days exercise and accompanied tough measures imposed by the government to flatten the curve of the virus.
“For the first time in recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the people’s spiritual, social, and economic lives. This year’s fasting period was particularly challenging for Muslims because they had to forgo many important aspects of their daily worship, including the routine congregations for prayer and the recitation and interpretation of the Holy Qur’an as well as traveling for the lesser pilgrimage to Makkah. It is not easy to give up many of these important duties and activities, but it became imperative to do so in order to control or limit the spread of this deadly disease,” the statement read in part.
The President, however, called on Muslims to celebrate alone with their family and loved ones while avoiding social and religious gatherings which can aid the spread of the deadly respiratory disease.
“This year’s Eid event is an occasion for sober reflection rather than celebration because of the long shadows of gloom that the coronavirus has cast on people’s lives,” the statement added.
On his part, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, in his eid-el-Fitri message to Nigerians described the celebration as an epochal event that was different from the ones the world has seen due to the outbreak of coronavirus globally.
According to him, the current situations meant that Muslims must uphold all the safety measures and guidelines put in place by the government to mitigate the spread of the pestilence even as they celebrate eid tomorrow.
“I am sure there would be very few Muslims alive today – if any – who had witnessed a Ramadan fasting like the one we just had, and Eid celebration such as we would have this year without the mandatory congressional prayers.
“The current situation of the Covid-19 pandemic is a test from Allah and, having fasted as we are enjoined as Muslims, let us continue to remember that it is part of our faith to protect all lives and to abide by regulations from those in authority, especially during a time of great uncertainty like this.
“Those protocols about avoidance of crowded places, social distancing, and regular washing of hands are for our own benefits and the benefits of humankind in general. As Muslims, it is incumbent upon us to do our best both in action and in prayers to ensure that the world is healed of this deadly virus at the earliest possible time,” the statement read.
Atiku, however, urged governments at all levels to prioritize the welfare of the people in planning for the post-COVID-19 era, while advising people in leadership positions all over the world to learn from countless examples of how Prophet Muhammed (SAW) and his immediate disciples took the welfare of the people as a priority in the administration of a state.
Also, Lawan, on his part, urged the Muslim faithful to continue to pray for Nigeria in its fight against the pandemic while enjoining them to observe all health precautions as well as sustain their acts of purity, charity, perseverance, and tolerance in their daily lives and general conduct as they celebrate eid and after.
“ I congratulate the Muslim faithful on the successful completion of the fasting period despite the formidable challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic which stood between us and total observance of key rituals of the period. Even as the holy month has ended, I enjoin us to continue to observe the health precautions and sustain the acts of purity, charity, perseverance, and tolerance in our daily lives and general conduct. We should also continue to pray for Nigeria, our dear country, for God’s intervention against all the challenges that confront our nation and our world,” a statement the Senate President signed on Saturday read.
Meanwhile, the Speaker of the House of Representatives Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila also corroborated the Senate President’s stance by urging Muslims not to engage in extravagant celebration by breaching the safety protocols put in place by the government.
Gbajabiamila, through a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, reminded the adherents that celebration remains a season of remembrance of the good things that the Almighty Allah has done despite the challenges that came with the thirty-days exercise.
“Unfortunately, this year’s Eid-el-Fitr will be celebrated low-key, not for our own making, but that is how our Creator wills it. That is why we all must return to Him in prayers to bring an end to this COVID-19 pandemic. I enjoin every Nigerian Muslim to be of good character and remain the best of examples, taking after the Holy Prophet (SAW). Let’s also pray for an end to insecurity and other challenges that we face as a nation,” the statement said.
Also, the Oyo State Governor, Makinde, who regretted that the Muslims across the country cannot observe Eid-el-Fitri prayer, as usual, this year, maintained that the development should be seen as part of the sacrifice needed to defeat the global scourge.
The governor, through a statement released to newsmen by his Chief Press Secretary, Taiwo Adisa, called for the continued support and cooperation of the Muslim Ummah and all residents of the state in adhering to the COVID-19 protocol such as wearing of face masks, observing social distancing, regular washing of hands and eating of immune-boosting foods and others, to solidify the gains being recorded against the virus in the country.
“As we look forward to an end to the current gloom and a return to normalcy, let us continue to work together for the safety, wellbeing, and prosperity of our state. “Once again, I felicitate our Muslim brothers and sisters and our community,” the statement read in part.