President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday fired back at advocates of secession, saying they are desperate in their quest for political power and are seeking to achieve it through blackmail.
He however called for unity and oneness among Nigerians, noting that it is the way they can overcome present challenges and achieve the lofty dreams of the nation's founding fathers.
In his Sallah message yesterday, the president sent his best wishes to all Nigerians and Muslims across the globe as they mark the Eid el-Fitr celebration following the completion of a month of fasting.
On those calling for secession, Buhari said, "We should jointly pray against the tragic incidents of kidnapping and banditry and the desperate quest for political power expressed through blackmail against the existence of our country as a united entity.
"We must resist the temptation to retreat into our communities. I urge our political and religious leaders as well as traditional rulers to encourage our citizens to turn towards one another in love and compassion."
In a message signed by him, President Buhari expressed hope the Eid festival would bring with it peace, safety, security, brotherhood and love amongst all.
He noted: "Unity and solidarity among all citizens, Muslims and Christians, are imperative especially at a time when our country is faced with multiple challenges which are surmountable only when we come together as one.
"It is important that we remember how we share, through our faiths, common bonds that should serve to unite us and not allow ourselves to succumb to those who seek to divide us using our two great religions, for their own selfish advantages.
According to the president, it is noteworthy and delightful to see Christians breaking fast and, in some instances, extending goodwill and gifts to Muslim faithful during the Ramadan.
"This model also shone through with Muslim groups joining Christian festivities. These are practices that promote brotherhood and forgiveness," he said.
President Buhari also urged Nigerians to continue to observe all COVID-19 prevention measures and celebrate responsibly during the holidays.
... Pray For Nigeria, Lawan Urges Muslims
In his sallah message, Senate President Ahmad Lawan felicitated with the Muslim Ummah in Nigeria on the completion of this year's Ramadan fast and urged them to pray for Nigeria to overcome its security challenges.
According to a statement issued by his media aide, Ola Awoniyi, the Senate president said due to its current security and economic challenges, Nigeria needs the prayers of every patriot now more than ever before to achieve the peace, unity and progress as dreamt of by its founding fathers.
"I assure us that the government, including the National Assembly, will not waver in its determination to provide robust security in the country that guarantees every law abiding citizen the liberty to live in peace and pursue their legitimate businesses anywhere they choose.
"Let us remain strong in our hope that Nigeria will become what we fervently want it to be: a nation that fills its citizens with happiness and pride," Lawan added.
Northern Governors Urge Prayers For Nigeria's Unity
The Northern Governors Forum also canvassed prayers for the unity, peace and progress of the nation.
Chairman of the forum and governor of Plateau State, Simon Bako Lalong, in a message said Nigerians should not lose hope because hard times do not last forever.
In a statement issued in Jos by his director of press affairs, Simon Makut Macham, Lalong said God did not make a mistake by creating Nigeria with all its diversities, adding that He will not allow evil to prevail or destroy the country.
Lalong said the current security situation demands more action from both government and citizens who must work together to isolate bad elements that are desperate to make Nigeria an unstable entity.
The governor also urged Nigerians, particularly political and religious leaders to avoid rhetoric that further inflames passions and further divides the nation along religious, ethnic and parochial sentiments.
Be Prayerful, Gombe, Bauchi Governors Tell Nigerians
On their parts, Gombe State governor, Alhaji Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, and his Bauchi State counterpart, Bala Mohammed, tasked the citizenry not to lose sight in face of the current security challenges bedeviling the country but to remain resolute and prayerful with faith that the nation's trying moment will be over and Nigeria will emerge stronger and more united.
Governor Yahaya felicitated with the Muslim Ummah in the state as they join other faithful the world over in celebrating the Eid el-fitr, which marks the successful completion of the Ramadan fast.
In a goodwill message, the governor urged the Ummah to sustain the lessons of the holy month and replicate them in their daily lives for the good of the society.
He strongly condemned those calling for the balkanization of the country, describing such agitations as self-serving and orchestrated plan by some few Nigerians to cause unnecessary tension and division among the citizens who have lived in relative peace and harmony.
He emphasized that his administration will not condone any act that will undermine the corporate existence of the country but will remain focused in delivering the dividends of democracy to the people of the State and by extension Nigerians who may find the State as home to do legitimate business.
For his part, Bauchi State governor, Mohammed, called on Muslims Ummah to use the occasion of eid-el ftr celebrations to pray for peace and unity of Nigeria as the country faces existential security threats.
Mohammed, in a Sallah message signed by his media aide, Muktar Gidado, appealed to the people of the state irrespective of their ethnic and religious background to use the occasion of the celebrations to pray for Nigeria.
"As you all know, ours is an ethnically and religiously heterogeneous State. It is however gratifying that in spite of this palpable heterogeneity we have been enjoying relative peace. I would like to appeal to you all, irrespective of your ethnic and religious backgrounds, to use the occasion of the Eid-el- Fitr to consolidate this harmonious coexistence", the governor stated.
... Don't Despair, Kwara Governor Urges Nigerians
According to Kwara State governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, Nigerians should not to despair in the face of the tough times the country is passing through.
The governor prayed to the Almighty Allah to reward the faithful for the Ramadan fast and their devotions and almsgiving before, during and after the holy month.
He said, "Going forward, and in the spirit of the holy month we have just exited, I implore everyone to continue to pray and work for peace and tranquility in our country and our state, while the government and citizens play their respective roles to build a better society.
"I urge our compatriots to also play their own part through constructive engagements and being one another's brother's keeper. Our country is going through a tough phase of nationhood, as had other great nation-states in world history.
"The solution is not in despair. Let us instead look after one another and be deliberate about building a country whose strength truly lies in the diversity and resilience of its people, while shrugging off anything and everything that may tear us apart."
... Obaseki Preaches Tolerance, Peaceful Coexistence
Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki has called for tolerance and peaceful coexistence among Nigerians.
The governor, in his message congratulating Muslims on the occasion of this year's Eid el-Fitr, urged the faithful to remain steadfast and continue to pray for peace and unity of the country, saying that development and growth could only take place when the people were united.
"I urge you to embrace the spirit of love, selflessness, tolerance, sacrifice and charity, as taught by the Holy Prophet Mohammed.
"The holy month of Ramadan is an opportunity for our Muslim brothers and sisters to deepen their relationship with Allah.
"I urge you to use the season as a period to reflect on our individual and collective roles in promoting and sustaining love, peace and harmony in the country," he said.
Governor Ugwuanyi Calls For Prayers, Sober Reflection
For Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Nigerians should take advantage of the occasion to reflect soberly and intensify prayers for the peace, security, unity and progress of the country.
In his Sallah message, Ugwuanyi stressed that the religious event has great positive impact on the nation's efforts at surmounting its security, socio-economic and public health challenges.
The governor therefore enjoined all Nigerians to continue to trust in God and embrace the cherished virtues of love, charity, peace and sacrifice as exemplified by the Holy Prophet Mohammed.
While wishing Muslims the blessings and guidance of Allah, Ugwuanyi advised Nigerians on peaceful celebration and strict adherence to all precautionary measures for the containment of the spread of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).
Atiku, Saraki, Obi, Olawepo-Hashim Canvass Unity, Peaceful Co-existence
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and former Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki have joined the call for unity among Nigerians and the need for continuous prayers for Nigeria in the light of the security crisis and economic hardship.
Similarly, former vice presidential candidate and governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, and a presidential candidate in 2019, general election, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, have also called for all stakeholders in the Nigerian project to unite in the interest of the country.
Atiku in a statement he personally signed said this year's Eid el-Fitr is coming at a time when Nigeria is going through a challenging moment concerning the security of lives and property and when a large number of people are hard hit by the ravaging scourge of poverty.
Congratulating Muslims in Nigeria and across the world on the Eid el-Fitri festival, Saraki, in a statement signed by his special adviser and head of his media office, Yusuph Olaniyonu, said "The current situation in our country requires sincere change of mindset by all Nigerians. We should use this post-Ramadan period and the lessons we learnt from the fasting period to steer clear of any action which does not bode well for our country. This is a period when we all need to pray to Allah to once again pull the country back from the precipice.
"With the level of insecurity and economic crisis which have combined to worsen the rate of poverty in Nigeria, all Nigerians must unite and demonstrate patriotism that will help our country overcome the present challenges", Saraki added.
The former Anambra governor and vice-presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 general election, Mr Peter Obi, however, urged Nigerians not to allow the prevailing hardship and mounting insecurity in the country to adversely affect their spirit of love, brotherliness and peaceful co-existence.
Obi said the people should use this year's Eid el Fitri festivities to engender the spirit of oneness and also re-dedicate themselves to the virtues of love, patriotism and unity for the desired national development.
The former Anambra state governor, in a statement from his media office, noted that Nigerians should allow the solemnness of the last one month of Ramadan to positively influence their thoughts and actions in relating with one another.
On his part, a presidential candidate in 2019 election, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim called on political leaders and other stakeholders to unite and save Nigeria from imminent collapse.
He said political leaders in the country, irrespective of their political or ideological leanings, should put heads together in order to agree on a workable agenda to stabilise the nation.
Tinubu Urges Muslims To Be Better
A national leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has urged Muslims to be better and treat one another with greater compassion and understanding as Ramadan ends.
Tinubu who gave the advice in a statement yesterday in Lagos also advised Muslims and other Nigerians to build a better society that would be free from violence and hatred.
"We must never condone works and words of those who would do evil or put a brother against a brother and Nigerian against a Nigerian.
"Now that the holy month of Ramadan is ending, we must counsel ourselves not to forget its great lessons. We must be better than we were," said.
He implored Nigerians to continue to pray to for the country.
"Let us remember President Muhammadu Buhari and his government in our prayers so that they may be given the strength and wisdom to protect the nation, defeat the challenges that confront us and help establish Nigeria as a more prosperous and just land.
"Let us pray for our brave soldiers and security agents confronting insurgents and bandits."
PDP Urges Unity, Patriotism
On its part, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has urged Nigerians to use the opportunity to unite in confronting the challenges facing our nation.
The party stressed that the virtues of self-sacrifice, love, perseverance and inner peace embodied in the lessons of the holy month of Ramadan should continue to guide the Nigerian people to face and overcome the challenges of life, particularly the evils confronting our nation today.
The national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said "as a people, we are faced by all sorts of new surge in terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, vandalism; recklessness and insensitivity in governance as well as the menace of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Indeed, this is the time for Nigerians to keep hope alive, believing that with trust in God and unity of all, this ugly phase in the life of our nation will surely pass."
The PDP urged Nigerians to also use the occasion to pray for the nation as well as show love to one another, especially the downtrodden and the victims of the scourge of terrorism and banditry in the nation.
Defence Minister Tasks Muslims On Prayer For Peace
On his part, defence minister, Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi (retired), urged Muslims to intensify prayer for the peace of Nigeria while they celebrate the Eid-el-Fitr.
Magashi made the appeal in a statement by his special assistant on media and publicity, Mohammad Abdulkadri, yesterday in Abuja.
"The sacrifice and love for the country, in addition to praying for its leadership for guidance and protection, are clearly stated in the hadith of Prophet Muhammad (SAW)," he said.
He also appealed to Muslim faithful to be patriotic by making peace in Nigeria their prayer point at individual, family and community levels.
Magashi assured Nigerians of the commitment of troops to decimate the enemies of the country and urged them to give timely information to security operatives on the activities of criminals in their domains.
IGP Orders Water-tight Security
The inspector-general of police, Usman Baba, has ordered a nationwide deployment of police officers and other operational assets of the force for water-tight security ahead of the 2021 Eid-el-Fitr celebration and beyond.
Force spokesman CP Frank Mba said the IGP's order was contained in a directive to assistant inspectors-general of police (AIGs), commissioners of police (CPs) and other strategic commanders of the force as part of efforts by the police leadership toward stabilising security, improving public safety and making the country a safer place for all citizens.
The IGP, who noted that the nation's security ecosystem is challenged, assured, however, that these challenges are not insurmountable.
The IGP, while restating his belief that the nation will soon overcome its security challenges, further noted that the force is equally up-scaling its collaboration with the military and other law enforcement agencies in both intelligence sharing and other target-oriented missions and operations.
The IGP, Mba further said, reminded the citizens of the newly introduced Phase-4 National Response on COVID-19 Health Protection Regulation and called for voluntary compliance with the protocols.
He equally directed commissioners of police in all the states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to ensure full enforcement of the protocols.
He, however, warned that police officers deployed for such enforcement must do so with utmost professionalism, while exhibiting compassion, decorum and due respect for the fundamental rights of the citizens.
Be Vigilant, FCT Minister Tells Residents
In his own Sallah message, minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Mohammad Bello, called on residents of the territory to remain vigilant and be security conscious at all times during and after the celebration.
The minister also advised residents to report to the security agencies all suspicious movements and characters in their communities and be more discerning with information that they imbibe or share, especially from the social media.
Bello further urged Muslim faithful to continue to practise the lessons learnt during Ramadan in order to strengthen the bond of brotherhood and unity within and outside the FCT.
"Let us be reminded that the Federal Capital Territory was built on a foundation of national unity with the strong conviction of our founding fathers - that it is only when we stay together and work together, with a single purpose, that we can truly reach our potentials as a great nation.
"We should therefore stand firm and resolute against divisive and unpatriotic elements in our society who do not wish us well as a nation and as a people by continuing to care for each other irrespective of ethnic or religious differences," he said.
Benue Governor Donates Food, Cash To Muslim Faithful
Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, has presented 1,200 bags of rice to Muslim faithful in the state and an undisclosed sum of money to enable them celebrate the 2021 Eid el-Fitr.
Governor Ortom, while presenting the items to the leadership of Jama'atu Nasril Islam (JNI) in Makurdi for onward distribution to the beneficiaries, said he believes in the secularism of Nigeria and has respect for all religious organisations.
Represented by secretary to the state government (SSG), Prof. Anthony Ijohor, SAN, Ortom said if not for the new order from the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, he would have hosted the Muslim community as he usually did.
The governor enjoined the Muslim faithful to intensify prayers for peace and security in Benue State and Nigeria as a whole as they conclude their Ramadan, stressing that despite security and economic challenges, there are many things to be grateful for.
Receiving the items, leader of the Muslim community in the State, Alhaji Garba Baba, said Governor Ortom believes in God and that is why he remembered the Muslim community on the occasion of the 2021 Eid el-Fitr.
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