President Muhammadu Buhari, top officials in the National Assembly and state governors have felicitated with Nigerians observing the religious festival, Eid-ul-Adha.
The festival is the second of two Islamic holidays celebrated worldwide each year, and considered the holier of the two.
The Coronavirus pandemic has however restricted worshippers from observing the festival in a grand style.
Some state governments have cancelled the annual congregational prayers, banned public gatherings and reeled out safety protocols in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.
So far, Nigeria has recorded over 40,000 infections across all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT Abuja.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in a message signed by his spokesperson, Garba Shehu, reiterated his call on Nigerians to continue to exercise patience and understanding over the inconveniences created by precautionary measures taken for COVID-19, especially the regulations on places of worship.
Mr Buhari said the outbreak of coronavirus has made it difficult for people to gather in places of worship as they are used to, urging worshipers to abide by the guidelines for safety of their lives, and loved ones.
“The coronavirus has had devastating adverse impacts on our social, economic and spiritual lives.
“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.
“The guidelines are dictated by necessity in order to safeguard public health and should, therefore, not be perceived as infringement on people’s right to worship,” the statement said.
President Buhari commended the sacrifices of Muslims and Christians in abiding by the COVID-19 guidelines for the good of society, assuring that: “On our own part, we shall continue to provide economic reliefs to the people to minimize the unintended hardships these guidelines have inflicted.’’
Also, Mr Buhari reminded Nigerians of his efforts to fight corruption in the country, stating that the efforts had so far brought a lot of changes in the country’s polity.
He appealed for more support and understanding as investigations are carried out on both legacy and fresh cases.
In similar manner, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, advised Nigerians to continue seeking the face of God against insecurity and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we celebrate the feast of sacrifice with worship, I enjoin us to be mindful of the risk of the COVID-19 pandemic and adhere strictly to the safety protocols prescribed by our public health authorities,” he said.
He said the National Assembly was collaborating with the Executive in responding to the pandemic as it affects our economy and general public system.
“Those of us in leadership positions must continue to be aware of our covenant of service with the Nigerian people. On our part as your elected representatives and lawmakers, we pledge to always respect your trust and serve your best interests,” he said.
Call for peace, unity
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, urged Muslims to rededicate themselves to their Creator and pray for unity.
Mr Gbajabiamila said the need for prayers became more pressing at this time that the coronavirus pandemic is ravaging the world, including Nigeria.
In the message signed by his spokesperson, Lanre Lasisi, the Speaker said with fervent prayers, Nigeria would be able to surmount the numerous challenges bedevilling the country, including insecurity.
Mr Gbajabiamila urged Nigerians, irrespective of their differences, to embrace one another and be united for the progress of the country.
He also called on religious leaders to preach unity and peaceful coexistence among the citizens at this time and always.
Meanwhile, the governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, enjoined Muslims and all Nigerians, to use the occasion of this year’s Eid-el-Kabir, to rejuvenate their faith in God and pray fervently for the peace, security and progress of the nation.
In his Sallah Message, the governor urged Nigerians to embrace the virtues of love, charity and sacrifice as exemplified by the Holy Prophet Mohammed.
While wishing all Nigerians a peaceful and healthy celebration, Mr Ugwuanyi advised them to stay safe and adhere strictly to all precautionary measures for the containment of the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
Also, the governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun, congratulated all Muslims in Ogun State and Nigeria for God’s grace to witness it.
He called on the Muslims to use the season to have a sober reflection on the principles of love, kindness and sacrifice which are the very essence of the season.
“As we solemnly celebrate in our different homes, let’s pray to the Almighty for a quick and permanent way out of this pandemic that has altered the congregation of faithful and glamorous celebrations that usually come with Sallah. Even as we are unable to gather, let’s remember persons of other faiths in our prayers, as it is only our collective wellness that can move us forward,” he stated.