Former Governor of Ogun State, Gbenga Daniel, has urged Nigerians to use the occasion of the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ to offer special prayers for peace to reign in the country and the world at large.
Mr Daniel, who stated this in a Christmas message on Sunday, tasked both Christians and Muslim faithful to rededicate themselves to love, peace, unity, equity and justice, in order to further strengthen their spiritual confrontation of the ills plaguing the society.
According to him, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and the fulfilment of God’s great love for humanity.
“We must remain committed to the worthy ideals of the season and spread the joy of God to others irrespective of their religion affiliations.
“Despite myriad of challenges facing us as a nation in poverty, diseases, crimes, violence and insurgency, our continued existence as a nation was a great testimony that God is still with Nigeria and will continue to protect us the more if we come closer to him.
“Celebrate the season with prudence and remember the less privileged as it is a season of humility, goodwill and selflessness as taught by the scriptures and must be observed with moderation and care for fellow citizens, as we join others in recognising the renewed hope and reaffirmation of God’s great love for the people of the world and Nigerians in particular,” the former governor said.
Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, has promised to empower at least 100,000 youths and women through the line-up empowerment programme of the state government.
He said his administration had prioritised the well-being of youths and promised to empower them so as to prevent some politicians from using them to cause crises in the state.
The Governor made the pledge on Tuesday while addressing the multitude of people who paid him a solidarity visit in the spirit of the Sallah celebration at the Government House in Lokoja, Kogi State’s capital.
He urged the people of the state to be patient with President Muhammadu Buhari over Nigeria’s economic recession.
Governor Bello also urged them to uphold peace and unity among themselves, irrespective of their religion and ethnicity.
He promised equity in carrying out his duty as governor and vowed to wipe out corrupt practices in the state in north-central Nigeria.
The traditional ruler of Lokoja, Muhammadu Maikarfi and his subjects were among the multitude at the Government House, to show their support for the administration in power.
The monarch, who is also the state’s Chairman, Traditional Council of Chiefs, thanked the Governor for his patience in leading the people of Kogi State.
He appealed to him to forgive those who threw stones at his convoy and called on Muslim faithful to embrace good conduct which he described as the basis of the Eid-el-Kabir.
The harsh economic tides the nation is in started with the drop in crude oil price and then the resurgence of militant activities in the Niger Delta, dipping the nation’s output by 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 1.56 million bpd in the last six months.
Despite the reduced revenue for the nation and some state’s inability to pay salaries due to lowered allocations, the cost of goods are on the increase.
Many in celebration mood lament the high cost of items needed for the celebration.
Removing The Hardships
They blame the high cost of rams on the economic recession and inflation, with prices soaring by 80 to 100 per cent.
The sellers are also feeling the pinch as their rams are in excess with few buyers.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday congratulated Nigerians, particularly Muslims on the occasion of the Eid-El-Kabir, saluting their steadfastness in spite of the difficult economic times Nigeria is going through.
In a special message to Nigerians, the President said, “the lessons of the Eid are piety and sacrifice and, my dear brothers and sisters, you have exhibited these in equal measure”.
“The present recession is as a result of cumulative effects of worldwide economic downturn and failure in the past to plan and save for difficult times. It is impossible to separate the present from the past to appreciate the extent to which mistakes of the past are affecting everyday life today.
“I assure you that this administration is working round the clock to remove the hardships the country is going through. Rail and road constructions, projects in the housing sector, support for farmers and for small and medium scale industries, youth and women’s empowerment programmes, support for revival of industries are all designed to reinvigorate the economy and enhance living standards of ordinary people.
“We are getting security right. We are stopping corruption in its tracks and we will get the economy right by the Grace of God.
“I enjoin Muslims to live by the dictates of Islam, to keep good relationships with their Christian brothers and sisters and as patriots to maintain the spirit of the Nigerian nation.
“I wish everyone happy holidays,” the President stated.
On his part, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, urged Nigerians to never forget to pray for the nation, highlighting that the pains the citizens were undergoing were occasioned by decades of maladministration and the near collapse of a mono product economy.
The Federal Government of Nigeria has declared Friday, January 2, 2015 as public holiday to mark Eid el Maloud.
The announcement was made by the Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, on behalf of the government.
In a statement signed by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Interior, Makaji Abdulahi, Moro urged Muslim faithful and all Nigerians to pray for the peace and unity of the country.
Moro further urged all Nigerians to engage in violent free activities in the run off to the 2015 general elections and to support President Goodluck Jonathan’s transformation agenda to move Nigeria to the next level of development.
Moro also wished all Muslim faithful and Nigerians a very peaceful celebration.
Nigerians have once more been asked to shun their religious differences and love their neighbours as themselves.
Nigeria’s President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, made the call while receiving Vice President Namadi Sambo and other Muslim faithful resident in the Federal Capital Territory who converged on his residence to pay him homage.
The President condemned the killings by the Boko Haram and other terrorist groups in the name of religion, saying that no religion tolerates that kind of dastardly act.
He called on Nigerians to continue to pray for the souls of the many who have died as a result of terrorist attacks and asked for the forgiveness of those who carry out the terror act.
The President, who observed that this year’s celebration is significant in many ways, noted that despite the odds he was optimistic that the security challenges would soon end.
The occasion offered the opportunity for exchange of pleasantries between the President, the Vice President and other government officials, including some former and serving ministers and special aids to the President.
Vice President Sambo called it a special season and thanked the President for the support, while also thanking Allah for the success recorded so far in the administration’s transformation agenda.
The Vice President, joined by the Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory and other dignitaries, also presented a special Sallah card to the President.
All the guests then took turns to receive the presidential handshake which has remained one of the regular features at each years celebration.
The President expressed his appreciation of the commitment shown by Muslim faithful especially at festive seasons like the Eid-El-Kabir, describing it as a unique gesture.
More prayers were offered for the continuous blessing, unity, progress and peace of the country.
Muslim clerics have called on the government to foster frank and unbiased discussions at the proposed national conference to put an end to the lingering security crisis in the nation.
The clerics who declared their support for the conference maintained that the issue of religious tolerance should be given utmost priority to resolve the growing conflicts and terrorist attacks that have claimed thousands of lives across the country.
Although the main theme of the Sallah celebration is ‘share and be thankful,’ many challenges bedeviling the nation as a result of religious intolerance have continued to take centre-stage.
During a visit to some places of worship, the Muslim clerics and faithful agreed that rival ethnic and religious commuinities have been responsible for hundreds of thousands of killings across the federation. Hence, the proposed sovereign national conference is the right step to tackling the problem.
Chief Imam of the Ansarul Islam mosque, Ibrahim Usman, as well as Muslim faithful, Demola Abdusallam, made this known to our correspondent, Gloria Ume Ezeoke.
However, a cleric (Chairman, Ansarul Islam, Moshood Oyeleke) and faithful (Mohammed Yusuf) questioned the sincerity of the nation’s leadership, positing that if all is well, we would not need a natoinal conference.
The eid-el-fitr celebration in Jos, plateau state was marked amidst tight security as security personnel were at various spots monitoring worshippers and worship centres to avert any breach of peace.
Security chiefs led by commander of special task force, commissioner of police and the commandant of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) were seen in Jos metropolis and environs to make sure that security arrangements are in place.
Muslim faithful in Plateau state, north central Nigeria came out in large numbers to offer prayers at the end of the Ramadan fasting with maximum security measures put in place by security agents.
In spite of the warning by security agents on the ban of motorcycle and dangerous driving during the festival, there were some that disobeyed and the patrol team of the security chiefs was at hand to apprehend defaulters.
The security chiefs expressed satisfaction on the peaceful celebration and security arrangement with assurance that more security measures will still be put in place for the rest of the festive period.