BY SAM EYOBOKA & CALEB AYANSINA
Lagos—Two former military Heads of State, Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, were among prominent Nigerians who felicitated with Muslim faithful as they celebrated the Eid-el- Kabir festival, yesterday.
Others included state governors, the Catholic Bishop of Lagos, Archbishop Adewale Martins, the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, the Lamido of Adamawa, Alhaji Muhammadu Barkindo, as well as Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN.
Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar in their messages called on Nigerians to pray for sustained peace and stability of the country.
Speaking shortly after the prayers to mark the celebration at the Minna Central Mosque, the duo, in their separate speeches, enjoined Nigerians to live in peace and love one another.
“We must respect the tenets of Islam which call for peace and I hope that each one of us will try to maintain peace and be our brother’s keeper,” Abubakar said.
In Sokoto, the Sultan, Alhaji Abubakar urged striking workers to call off their strikes and go back to the negotiating table.
”We wish to use this opportunity to call on all those on strike, especially university academic and non-academic staff to call off their strikes so as to reduce the sufferings of the people.
”And they should go back to the negotiating table in order to bring an end to the crisis.
”The strike of medical workers has on its part, caused loss of many lives and untold hardship to the sick who cannot afford going to private clinics,” Abubakar said.
He also expressed concern with the insecurity in the country, saying: “It is a matter of great concern.”
The Sultan appealed to all Muslims to live peacefully and avoid all acts of violence.
“We wish to call on the politicians, especially those holding executive positions, to help in ensuring the security of this country,” he said.
The CAN and Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan admonished Muslim faithful to use the celebration of this year’s Eid-el-Kabir to re-establish pillars of love and tolerance among their neighbours.
Onaiyekan gave the advice when he joined the FCT Muslim community to pay Sallah homage to President Goodluck Jonathan at the Presidential Villa.
CAN President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor said: “At occasions like the celebration of the Eid-el-Kabir, prayers should center on the re-establishment of the pillars of love and tolerance for which Islam is known and admonished Muslims to shun acts that are unpleasant to the senses which are qualities not assigned to Islam.
In his message signed by the Director of Social Communications, Very Rev. Msgr. Gabriel Osu, Archbishop Martins enjoined Muslims throughout the country to use this period to re-dedicate themselves to the life of sacrifice as exemplified by the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his only son in obedience to God’s will.
“So, you can see that there is a lot of similarity between the story of Ibrahim and Jesus. Both amplified on the need for us all to be ready to make sacrifices, to be tolerant of one another and to be obedient to the will of God,” Martins stated.
Also, several governors including Babatunde Fashola of Lagos, Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo, Dr Babangida Aliyu of Niger, Peter Obi of Anambra, Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara as well as Senator Chris Ngige also asked Muslims to use the opportunity of the Eid-el-Kabir to reflect on their relationship with Nigerians in other religious groups by making peace with them to ensure the progress of the nation.
Addressing newsmen at the Government House on the significance of Eid-el–Kabir celebration, Ajimobi said he was waiting for leaders of the All Progressives Congress, APC, to submit their nominees to enable him constitute his cabinet.
“I am waiting for APC leaders to submit lists of their various nominees to guide me in constituting a new cabinet,” he said. The governor said he dissolved the cabinet to reinvigorate administration of the state.
On Eid-el–Kabir, the governor, who said the celebration was all about sacrifice, urged the people of the state to rededicate themselves to the service of the state.
Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger said the country needed peace and unity in any circumstance.
According to him, peace and stability will enable the country to attain its goal of sustained socio-economic development in all spheres of human endeavours.
Lamido of Adamawa
In Yola, the Lamido of Adamawa, Alhaji Barkindo asked both the Federal Government and Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, to reconcile their differences with a view to re-opening universities closed three months ago due to strike.
According to the monarch, no nation can develop when its educational sector is stagnant.
On insecurity, he urged his people to live in peace with one another and assist government in maintaining peace.
He stressed that government alone cannot protect the lives and property of its citizenry without the support of the people.
“I, therefore, call on the good people of the state, irrespective of their differences, to support government’s effort toward ensuring security.”
Governors Rochas Okorocha of Imo and Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo states also urged Nigerians to use the occasion of the celebration to reflect on the challenges facing the nation.
In their goodwill messages, Okorocha and Mimiko on Tuesday in Owerri and Akure urged Nigerians, especially Muslims, to pray for peace and unity of the country.
In a statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Imo governor, Mr. William Unadike, Okorocha congratulated all Muslim faithful and called for tolerance among adherents of different faiths.
He expressed his optimism in the future of the country as one entity and pledged to take steps that would further strengthen the unity of the country.
Okorocha said that Nigeria would remain indivisible, in spite of the myriad of challenges it is facing.
In his message, Mimiko urged Nigerians, especially Muslims, to use the occasion of the Eid-el-Kabir to pray for peace, unity and progress of the country.
He further charged Nigerians to submit to the will of God in the belief that only Him could help solve the nation’s problems.
Also, Gov. Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa congratulated Muslims in the state and urged them to promote the positive attributes of humility, love and unity.
Dickson enjoined Muslim faithful to emphasise the importance of religious tolerance, noting that religious tolerance remained a vital ingredient for peace and development to thrive during and after the Eid-el-Kabir.
Gov. Theodore Orji of Abia State also felicitated with Muslims in the state by urging them to use the period to pray for peace and unity in the country.
“Nigeria is a great country that has great potentials, capable of dictating the pace in world affairs, hence all hands must be on deck to ensure that the nation’s progress is not hampered”, he stated.
Gov. Isa Yuguda broke a 37-year old tradition by performing this year’s Eid-el-Kabir prayer in Dass instead of the usual Bauchi emirate.
Yuguda told the Emir of Dass, Alhaji Othman Usman in his palace that he was starting a new tradition where a sitting governor would rotate the prayer in the six emirates of the state.
“This is the first time in the 37 years of Bauchi State that a sitting governor is performing the Eid-el-kabir prayer outside Bauchi emirate.
In Lagos, Gov. Babatunde Fashola urged Nigerians, irrespective of their ethnic and religious differences, to embrace peace and tolerate one another.
Fashola made the call at the Obalende praying ground, Ikoyi, Lagos, where he observed the Eid-El-Kabir prayers.
The governor, while describing the celebration as a day of thanksgiving, urged Nigerians to toe the line of peace for the stability and progress of the nation.
“We must seek forgiveness from God and forgive our neighbours and fellow human beings.
“We must pray that the philosophy and ideal of sacrifice to build our society exists. Because, it is only under the atmosphere of peace that we can prosper and bring economic prosperity to our people,” he said.
The Chief Imam of Central Mosque, Cable Point, Asaba, Alhaji Liman Umar, urged Nigerians to live in peace and harmony to overcome the country’s challenges.
Umar made the call while delivering the Eid-el-Kabir sermon at the central mosque in Asaba.