By Sam Eyoboka
AS Muslims in Nigeria join their counterparts around the world to celebrate this yearâ€™s Eid-el-Kabir today, eminent Nigerian Christian leaders have called on Nigerians to show more love for one another and continue on the path of peace.
The President, Pentecostal Fellowship (PFN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, prelate, Methodist Church Nigeria, His Eminence Sunday Ola Makinde, Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie and his director of Social Communications, Monsignor Gabriel Osu also appealed to Nigerians to pray for the good health of President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua.
Anxiety heightened Wednesday night when rumours were flying across the length and breadth of the nation that the nationâ€™s number one citizen, President Yarâ€™AduaÂ may have passed on in Jeddah hospital that morning.
But the Federal Government through the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Michael Aondoaka denied the rumours, saying that the president was hail and hearty, receiving treatment in an undisclosed Saudi Arabian hospital for an ailment.
In four separate goodwill messages to their Muslim counterparts in Nigeria, the foursome urged everyone to pray seriously for President Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s soonest recovery, stressing that the effectual and faithful prayers of the Nigerian people are strong enough to restore Mr. President to good health.
The clerics were unanimous, saying â€œit is all thanks to God that our Muslim brothers and sisters are celebrating yet another Eid-el-Kabir. Surely, this period calls for joyous celebrations but more importantly; it calls for sober reflections, prayers and love.
â€œWe cannot over-emphasise the role of peace and love in nation building and we must say this has been missing for a long time in our journey as a nation. We must strive to end religious bigotry and extremism, killings and wanton destruction in the name of God, and edge towards peaceful co-existence, respect for one another, tolerance, religious harmony and understanding which are key in our quest for a better Nigeria,â€ the clerics said.
By doing this, they say, â€œwe would not only be making life better for ourselves and our unborn children but would also be laying a solid foundation for the future and lifting our country to greater heights.
â€œWe cannot afford to continue to live in hatred and disdain for one another because itâ€™s obvious effects that have set us back in our pursuit of economic growth and social development cannot be overstated. It is indeed time to overcome our evils and enormous, but surmountable challenges,â€ they added.
The clerics then called on all Nigerians to tap into the spirit of this season by praying in unison for the soonest recovery of President Yarâ€™Adua who is reported to be undergoing medical treatment abroad.
â€œThis is a critical moment in our history considering the state of our presidentâ€™s health. We need to shove aside our differences, disagreements and sentiments and unify ourselves in prayers for his recovery and safe return to the country.
â€œWe must remember his immediate family in our prayers as our support is all they need at this trying moment. As people of faith, we trust God that he would be restored to good health and then focus on the job of delivering purposeful governance and providing the dividends of democracy to the people of this great nation,â€ they added.
Also, the Secretary-General of NSCIA, Dr. Lateef Adegbite, yesterday urged Nigerians irrespective of their religious background to imbibe the spirit of sacrifice if that is what it would need to make Nigerians leave in peace with one another.
In his own Eid-El-Kabir message, Adegbite said anybody who believes in Allah should eschew violence and other non-peaceful activities, adding that the essence of sacrifice was to please God on his commandment.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â He therefore urged Nigerians to, in the spirit of sacrifice, offer everything they have to the Almighty Allah, pointing out that Nigerians must do everything to please Allah, and not Allah alone, but our country. â€œWe should be prepared to make sacrifice to our country,â€ he said.