By Ismaila Chafe
Abuja – President Muhammadu Buhari has urged Muslims to keep their spirits up in spite of the coronavirus pandemic.
Malam Garba Shehu, the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, in a statement in Abuja on Saturday, said the President made the call in his Sallah message to Muslims on the occasion of this year’s Eid-el-Fitr.
According to President Buhari, the deadly virus, which caught the world off guard, and has put a damper on what would otherwise have been ”a time of celebration for the Muslim faithful to mark the end of the Ramadan fasting period.”
The President said, “for the first time in recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the people’s spiritual, social and economic lives.
”This year’s fasting period was particularly challenging for Muslims because they had to forgo many important aspects of their daily worship, including the routine congregations for prayer and the recitation and interpretation of the Holy Qur’an as well as traveling for the lesser pilgrimage to Makkah.
“It is not easy to give up many of these important duties and activities, but it became imperative to do so in order to control or limit the spread of this deadly disease.”
The Nigerian leader commended the sacrifices of both Muslims and Christians for their cooperation in the enforcement of the social distancing guidelines.
He said: ‘ ‘I am well aware of the inconveniences these tough measures have brought on the lives of Nigerians, including limiting religious activities and gatherings in large numbers.
“No government would intentionally impose these tough and demanding measures on its citizens if it had a choice.”
President Buhari also appealed to other Nigerians “whose businesses and means of livelihoods were badly affected by the prolonged lockdown measures for their understanding and cooperation.”
He assured Nigerians that the lockdown measures would not go on longer than necessary because they would be reviewed from time to time to ease the increasing hardships on the people.
He also urged people with means to continue helping their neighbours and the less well-to-do “so that we can all come out of this pandemic stronger and more united.”
The President told the Muslim faithful that “this year’s Eid event is an occasion for sober reflection rather than celebration because of the long shadows of gloom that the coronavirus has cast on people’s lives.”
Buhari prayed to Allah to ease the hardship among the people as they struggle hard to flatten the curve, while wishing all Nigerians “Eid Mubarak.”