Ordinary citizens and prominent Nigerians on Thursday called for commitment from leaders towards addressing various challenges confronting the country.
While expressing hope for positive days ahead in their messages as part of the Eid-el-Fitr celebrations, the citizens including artisans, students, former leaders and clerics, called for those in the position of authority to confront terrorists, bandits, kidnappers, secessionists and other assailants for peace to reign.
Millions of Muslim faithful around the world observed the two-raka’at prayer in Eid grounds in towns and villages, signifying the end of the 30 days Ramadan fasting.
Our correspondents report that despite enormous challenges, Muslims in Nigeria were not left behind in the Sallah celebrations as they exchanged visitations, shared food and other gift items and also prayed for peace and harmony.
We need more understanding – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari while speaking to reporters at the State House shortly after observing the Eid prayer appealed for more understanding.
“I expect Nigerians to be more understanding on the issues involved, looking at the time and available resources. For example, when we came in, in the North East, ask people in Adamawa and Borno states and the South South in terms of security. Without security, you can’t do anything. Our big surprise and disappointment is what is happening in the North West and we are dealing with it,” he said.
President Buhari also appealed to the elite to show a better appreciation of the problems facing the country.
“The elite should make the attempt to understand the military. If we order for weapons and armoured vehicles, it takes time for the manufacturers. It takes time to ship them and when brought here eventually, they are taken to training institutions, train the trainers before sending them to the field. This is a very long process,” he said.
President Buhari and members of his family were joined for the Eid at the forecourt of the Villa by Senate President Ahmed Lawan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, cabinet members and the heads of security and intelligence agencies.
Be alive to your responsibilities, Sultan urges
The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, has appealed to the federal and state governments to live up to their responsibilities of protecting the lives and property of their people.
In his message shortly after observing the Eid-el-Fitr prayer at the Fakon Idi in Sokoto on Thursday, the monarch regretted that the situation was getting out of hand.
He noted that people were living in perpetual fear because of the high rate of insecurity in the country. “I am appealing to governments at all levels to devise ways of nipping the situation in the bud,” he said.
The Sultan of Sokoto also reiterated his call on Muslims to continue seeking God’s intervention.
“We should continue with our fervent prayers, repentance and positive change in our attitudes; Allah will restore peace in our country,” he said.
Abdulsalami: Keep hope alive
Commenting on the significance of Eid-el-Fitr, former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar urged Nigerians to keep hope alive as security agencies were working tirelessly towards bringing an end to the current security challenges bedevilling the country.
Abdulsalami said this at the Minna Eid Prayer Ground after performing the two raka’at prayers.
He also urged Nigerians to keep praying and remain hopeful saying the solution to the problem was near.
Abdulsalami, however, said to achieve this, there was the need for Nigerians to support security forces in the onerous task of securing the country.
Deputy Governor of Niger State, Ahmed Mohammed Ketso, assured citizens of the state of their resolve to bring an end to the current security challenges, while former Governor Muazu Babangida Aliyu also advised Muslims to put into practice what they learned during the Ramadan fast and expressed confidence that the current security challenges were surmountable.
The Grand Imam of Kano State, Professor Sani Zahraddeen urged citizens to embrace the habit of praying for their leaders and the nation as a whole. He also prayed for peace, unity and progress in the country.
‘We’ve been praying, leaders should work hard’
Alaramma Muhammad Auwal, a resident of Kaduna, said he observed this year’s Eid-el-Fitr with mixed feelings but expressed hope that things will be better despite the economic and security challenges in the country.
“We observed the Sallah celebration peacefully and we thank Almighty Allah for that. However, many things are not going well in this country,” he said.
Being a farmer, Auwal said this year was the most challenging because he was unable to access his farm in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State and therefore could not cater for his family.
On her part, Aisha Ahmad, a tailor in Kawo Market, said many Nigerians celebrated Sallah under difficult conditions.
“The little we have is what we used. The security challenges in the country are increasing by the day and it seems we are not safe anywhere anymore,” she said.
A resident of Benin, Edo State, Usman Jibrin, lamented that Nigerians could no longer put food on their table.
“We are celebrating Sallah and people can’t even buy rice for the family and you expect people to remain hopeful?”
Some residents interviewed at the Eid ground in Kano expressed different views on the call for prayers by leaders.
Ashfa Mansur said it was obvious that every good citizen prays for his country to live in peace.
Sulaiman Abubakar Sulaiman said prayer was important for rapid development but leaders must also do their best because God had given them the power and opportunity to deliver.
In Lagos, some Muslim faithful said the Eid-el-Fitr festival was celebrated with mixed feelings.
Rasheed Ayodeji, a lawyer, said, “For me, it is hard to take my mind off the current challenges we are facing in Nigeria. However, my heart is full of gratitude to my maker for the opportunity given to me to complete the fasting and being able to celebrate Eid without any form of discomfort.
“Further, the sermon presented by the Imam today is very straightforward as it is about our current realities. The Imam gave out a rallying cry to our leaders citing various Qur’anic verses and Hadiths to remind them of their duties to their followers.”
Also speaking, Akinrisola Ayomide, a businessman who lives at Oke Ira, Lagos, said, “I am not hopeful about Nigeria’s future because I don’t see all these ending anytime soon; all the kidnappings, the attacks and all our leaders are not making sincere efforts to contain the problems.”
In Osogbo, Osun State, a newspaper agent, Mr Olamiposi Eluyera, said things were very tight for most people saying those who used to buy newspapers before were now coming to the stand to read for free.
“A congo of rice is N1, 000 and most people cannot afford it. A congo of rice was just N300 during the tenure of former President Umaru Yar’adua. Most people resorted to gari when they cannot afford rice but the price of gari is also very high now. A congo of gari is now between N450 and N500 whereas it was just N150 during Yar’adua tenure.”
Also, Mr Kunle Amed, who sells clothes lamented that there was no patronage as many people said they spent all their money on food.
In Ilorin, Kwara State, Yakub Agodi said, “I think what we need most is increased prayer. We always think that our problem can only be solved by the government and that is why when Buhari came in 2015, we were very hopeful that things would change in the areas of security and corruption; but we have now discovered that it is worse.
“It appears they are already overwhelmed which points to the fact that only Almighty God has the solution,” he said.
Hajia Fatimatu Saliu said despite seeming hopelessness and despair, there was light at the end of the tunnel. “Our prayer is God keeps us alive to witness the good times again when they return. Nigeria is not the only country that is going through a difficult phase with extreme hunger.”
In Port Harcourt, Rivers State, some people said they were tired of messages of hope and assurances from leaders.
A resident of Oyigbo, Johnson Ekechukwu, said, “On any given occasion like this, what we hear from our leaders is messages of hope and assurances without any policy actions to back it up.”
Another resident, Musa Idris, said Nigerians were running out of patience as a result of the rising insecurity and poor economic situation in the country.
Nigerians acting happy, says Wole Soyinka
Nobel Prize winner, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has said Nigerians are not happy people as wrongly believed all over the world. He said Nigerians are only pretending to be happy.
Prof Soyinka disclosed this while speaking at a cocktail, book reading and singing event at the Orisun Gallery in Abuja.
The programme was organised by Rovingheights Bookstore and Orisun Gallery, titled: ‘An Evening with Prof. Wole Soyinka’.
Prof Soyinka read his new book, written almost five decades after his last one, titled: “Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth”.
He said the title of the book was partly ironical when speaking of Nigerians being the happiest people on earth.
“I have never considered Nigerians as the happiest people on earth,” he said, adding, “Nigerians like to act happy.”
Prof Soyinka stressed that: “Those who said that they [Nigerians] are the happiest people in the world are not actually wrong because what they see are people dancing, singing, feasting, ‘owambe-ing’, fashion, asoebi and so on.
“We love to perform here and when people come, they only see the performance, they don’t see what is underneath. That is why I said it is an ironic title. I am not saying that people are internally happy; I am saying that they act happy and as so, they deceive those who are just passing through. But those who live here know exactly what they feel.”
He also spoke of the government, saying it had failed the people. He added that religion was being misused in Nigeria to cause a lot of problems.