By Henry Umoru, Dayo Johnson, Rotimi Ojomoyela, Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Adeola Badru
As Muslim faithful celebrate the Eid-el-Kabir festival today, President Muhammadu Buhari has urged them to shun violent extremism, describing it as the greatest challenge facing Islam.
He particularly urged Muslims to distance themselves from the activities and teachings of those, who preach violence against people.
Toeing the same line, the Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawan and some state governors called on Nigerians to pray against the widespread insecurity in the country.
The governors, who made the call in their Sallah messages, include Oyo State governor, Mr. Seye Makinde; Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Enugu State governor, Mr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu and Osun State governor, Adegboyega Oyetola.
However, President Buhari, who reminded Muslims that Islam is a religion of peace, urged them to avoid violent ideas that give Islam a bad name.
President Buhari, who said these in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, explained that the only way to neutralise the evil influence of extremism is for Muslims to distance themselves from violence.
He said the greatest commitment to Islam is for Muslims to put its good characteristics into practice.
His words: “We should be the mirror through which others see the good virtues of our faith.
“Islam is a religion of peace and we should avoid extremist ideas that give Islam a wrong name because our conduct leaves more lasting impressions than what we say. Violent extremism is the greatest challenge facing Islam today and the only way we can neutralise its evil influence is to distance ourselves from the activities and teachings of those who preach indiscriminate violence against innocent people. And this flies in the face of the teachings of Islam. Parents should protect their children from exposure to violent extremists who manipulate and exploit those children for their evil agenda.
“Boko Haram became a deadly force and a major security scourge because Muslim societies were indifferent from the beginning to the activities of extremist preachers who manipulate innocent and gullible followers.
“Extremism is like cancer, which must be detected and destroyed from its early stages of growth.
“Despite occasional setbacks, the Boko Haram militants have been so militarily weakened and scattered by our Armed Forces. They are no longer in a position to occupy any part of Nigeria, let alone hoist their flag and impose their reign of terror longer than 24 hours.
“As our armed forces get more equipped and trained, in addition to being more motivated and reinvigorated, this administration is relentlessly committed to protecting Nigerians no matter what it takes to bring a permanent end to this evil.”
Pray for Nigeria —Sen Lawan
Sen Ahmed in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Ola Awoniyi, urged all Nigerians to be steadfast in their commitment to building the nation of their dream.
He said: “I urge all to take inspiration from the exemplary virtues demonstrated by Prophet Ibrahim through his sacrifice, patience, steadfastness, generosity, and obedience to Allah’s command and constituted authority.”
Lawan also enjoined all Nigerians to always remember their shared heritage and destiny, adding that they should be guided by the Nigerian spirit of confidence as they tackle the challenges of nation-building.
On his part, Governor Akeredolu in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Segun Ajiboye, urged Muslims to continue praying for the country, particularly as the nation continues to battle insecurity.
The governor said: “As the Muslim faithful celebrate this year’s Sallah, they should let moderation be their watchword. Nigerians should offer prayers for the military men and women and security agencies that are battling to maintain peace in the country.”
Ovie Omo-Agege’s message
In his Sallah message, Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege called on Muslims to use the period of Eid el-Kabir to pray for Nigeria to overcome its present challenges.
Omo-Agege, who urged Nigerians to be tolerant, expressed the readiness of the 9th National Assembly to work with the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to ensure that Nigerians enjoy the dividends of democracy.
Practice love, loyalty and sacrifice— Fayemi
Similarly, Governor Fayemi in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Yinka Oyebode, urged the Muslim Ummah to uphold the lessons of love, loyalty, and sacrifice which form the foundation of the Eid-el- Kabir celebration, during and after the festivities.
While congratulating the Muslim faithful for witnessing another celebration, he urged them to collaborate with adherents of other religions in the country in the quest for peace and progress.
He also urged them to keep praying for the country so that peace and stability will be restored in the troubled spots.
According to him, Nigerians need to imbibe the lessons of commitment, dedication, and obedience to higher authority as demonstrated in Prophet Ibraheem’s willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience to the word of God.
Also, the Senator representing Ekiti Central Senatorial District at the upper chamber of the National Assembly, Sen Opeyemi Bamidele, appealed to Muslims to continually pray for the survival of Nigeria.
He said: “It is time to come to terms with the reality that we need to erect a solid pillar of prayers for our leaders and nationals to be transformed in characters.”
Pray for peace, prosperity, stability —Makinde
In Oyo State, Governor Makinde in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, admonished Muslims in the state to reflect on the significance of the celebration, which he said bordered on encouraging piety, sacrifice, and love.
The governor further reiterated his administration’s commitment to uplifting the state through the expansion of its economy and ensuring that the state reclaims its pace-setter status in different sectors.
Makinde, however, enjoined the Muslim faithful to use the Eid-el-Kabir period to pray for the peace, prosperity, and stability of the state and the country, adding that for the state to prosper, its people must contribute their quota through prayers and support for the leaders.
In the same vein, a renowned Ibadan-based Islamic cleric, Prof. Sabit Olagoke, assured that the spate of kidnapping witnessed in the country, particularly in the South West region would soon become a thing of the past if Nigerians stand united against the trend.
Let’s live in peace, harmony—Ugwuanyi
In his Sallah message, Governor Ugwuanyi enjoined all Nigerians to take advantage of the celebration and supplicate for enhanced peace, security, and progress of the country.
He reiterated that “the ultimate goal remains our collective ability to live in peace and harmony in a secure environment, and to cherish one another irrespective of religious, ethnic and political differences, for sustainable development of the nation.”
Be sacrificial and work for Nigeria’s unity—Sanwo-Olu
Governor Sanwo-Olu urged Nigerians to imbibe the lessons of the sacrifice made by Prophet Ibrahim and work for the unity of the nation.
In a statement by his Deputy Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, the Lagos State helmsman said that Eid al-Adha became a symbolic event in the history of mankind, given the bounty of rewards that followed the patience and perseverance of Prophet Ibrahim, who held on tenaciously to his faith in God despite being afflicted.
He said: “ This symbolic Islamic festival is a constant 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 belief.
Emulate virtues of Prophet Ibrahim—Oyetola urges
In the same vein, Oyetola called on Muslim faithful to emulate the virtuous life of total obedience, love, justice, and self-sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim, which he described as the whole essence of Eid-el Kabir celebration.
He urged Muslims to ensure that they make only those promises they know they can keep.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Ismail Omipidan, the governor stated that the observance of such virtues would take the state to the promised land.
Former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki called on Muslims to pray for an end to the numerous security challenges in the country.
Saraki in a message signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, noted that the period of the Eid-el-Kabir which also coincided with the final hajj rites in the holy land provided the opportunity for Nigerian Muslims to devote their supplication to Allah for an end to insecurity in the land.
PDP urges selflessness, trust in God
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, also urged Nigerians, particularly Muslims to use this year’s Eid-el Kabir to imbibe the life of total trust in the Almighty God in all spheres of life.
The party in a statement signed by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the occasion of Eid-el Kabir “offers us great lessons on selflessness and absolute trust in God, as exemplified in the life of Prophet Ibrahim.”