President Muhammdu Buhari on Thursday said the coronavirus pandemic had made it difficult for people to gather in places of worship as they were used to, cautioning worshippers to follow the guidelines set by experts for their safety and that of their loved ones.
Buhari, in his message to Muslims on the occasion of Eid-el-Kabir celebration reiterated his call on Nigerians to continue to exercise patience and understanding over the inconveniences created by the precautionary measures taken against COVID-19, especially the regulations on places of worship.
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“The coronavirus has had devastating adverse impacts on our social, economic, and spiritual lives. The preventive guidelines we have introduced to contain the spread of this deadly disease have unfortunately limited peoples’ 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. I, therefore, call on Muslims and people of other faiths to continue to show more understanding with the government as we take correct steps to protect our people through social distancing.
“No elected government would intentionally take away its people’s religious freedom by limiting the number of persons that will gather in worship centres at the same time.
“These guidelines are dictated by necessity in order to safeguard public health and should therefore not be perceived as an infringement on people’s right to worship.’’
The President, who had earlier announced that he would not entertain visitors during the eid celebration in compliance with the social distancing protocol, commended sacrifices of Muslims and Christians in abiding by the COVID-19 guidelines.
He assured that: “On our own part, we shall continue to provide economic relief to the people to minimize the unintended hardships these guidelines have inflicted.”
Buhari reminded worshippers that COVID-19 was a worldwide affliction with Churches and Mosques closed around the world and social distancing imposed to safeguard public health.
While wishing Muslims a happy celebration, the President called on worshipers not to forget the symbolic significance of the sacrifices of the Eid-el Kabir.
“Muslims should imbibe the noble virtues of our great prophets in order to establish closer connectivity between religious teachings and practice.
“We can create the greatest impact by putting into practice the noble teachings of our religion. In whatever we do in life, we must put the fear of God in our daily activities in order to make our society better.”
Buhari reminded the people of his efforts to root out corruption in the country, stating that the efforts had so far brought a lot of changes in the polity and appealed for support and understanding as investigations are carried out into both legacy and fresh cases.