President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday urged Muslims and Christians alike not to see the guidelines released to curtail further spread of COVID-19 as infringement on their rights to worship.
He said the guidelines were necessitated by the need to safeguard public health.
Buhari made the call in his Eid-el-Kabir message by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.
Shehu qouted Buhari as saying, “The preventive guidelines we have introduced to contain the spread of this deadly disease have unfortunately limited people’s freedom to gather and worship in large numbers in mosques and churches.
“Every measure that has been introduced to contain this disease may have its unintended consequences on the daily lives of our people, and I, therefore, call on Muslims and other faiths to continue to show more understanding with the government as we take correct steps to protect our people through the social distancing.
“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.”
In the same vein, the Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, in his goodwill message by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Yinka Oyebode, urged all Muslims to endure the inconveniences occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic which had reduced the pomp associated with the celebration of the Eid Kabir festival.
The governor, however, charged them to continue to pray and be optimistic that a lasting solution would be found through divine intervention.
Likewise, the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, admonished the people to continue to promote peaceful coexistence, religious tolerance and national unity, among other virtues that would ensure accelerated progress of the state and the nation.
His counterpart in Abia State, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, advised Muslims to celebrate responsibly.
In his goodwill message, Ikpeazu expressed his appreciation to the Muslims in the state for their commitment to peace and good neighborliness, adding that his administration was committed to the provision of an enabling environment which would allow everybody to practice their religion.
In his own message, Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State said, “My administration is committed to promoting peaceful co-existence between and among adherents of the different faiths in order to build a prosperous and peaceful state for everyone to realise their dreams.”
Also, the Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq in a statement by the Chief Press Secretary, Rafiu Ajakaye, urged Nigerians to see the pandemic as a test from God which required a combination of faith in the Almighty, collective discipline to the flattening of the curve.
“The governor appeals to everyone particularly the Muslim community to spend the Arafat Day and the blessed Eid days to pray to God for His mercies upon humanity,”the statement reads partly.
Similarly, the Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, in a statement he signed, cautioned clerics to ensure that worshippers comply with the health guidelines for the benefit of all.
“I urge you to continue to preach peace, show love, understanding, tolerance and good neighbourliness amongst ourselves and humanity at large,” he added.
Also in his message, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said, “As a people of faith, let us continue to seek the face of the Almighty in our various national wars, be they against insecurity or the COVID-19 pandemic, and as we strive to make Nigeria a comfortable home for all its citizens.”
Similarly, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, urged Muslims to rededicate themselves to God and pray for Nigeria.
The Speaker, in a Sallah message on Thursday by his Special Adviser on Media, Lanre Lasisi, noted that with fervent prayers, Nigeria would surmount the numerous challenges bedevilling the country, including insecurity.
In his sallah message, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar appealed to Nigerians to work towards promoting mutual respect, peace and tolerance in the country.
Atiku also urged political leaders to increase their connectivity to the people and move closer to the ordinary folks because doing so will give them access to firsthand information on the condition of the people.
Also, the Oba of Benin, Ewuare II, in his message on Thursday charged Muslims in Edo State to hold prayers and fasting sessions for the peaceful election in Edo State.
He said, “I urge Muslims to hold prayers, fasting sessions for politicians to be obedient to electoral laws and for the peaceful gubernatorial election in Edo State.”
Meanwhile, the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, in a message he signed, urged Nigerians to “gird ourselves for a great struggle, one Allah wants us to fight and win.”
He said, “It is in this spirit that I ask all Nigerian Muslims to observe this Eid with caution and utmost respect.
“During the days ahead, reflect upon this unusual time in which we have found ourselves, pray to Allah to pull us out of this situation but also ask Him how you may help a relative, a family member or even a stranger who may be in greater need than you are. We must pray that Almighty Allah lend wisdom and guidance to President Buhari and all those in government that they may continue to work to move our nation forward.”