As Muslim faithful begin the Ramadan first today, President Goodluck Jonathan, Tuesday in his felicitation urged them to offer special prayers during the period for greater peace, security, unity and rapid socio-economic development in the country.
The president also enjoined non-Muslims to strive to imbibe the virtues of piety, self-discipline, tolerance, equity, fairness and sympathy for the less privileged which the Ramadan fast promotes.
Jonathan also urged all persons of the faith who may have been misled by extremists and agents of international terrorism into taking up arms against their fellow countrymen, women and children to re-open their minds, during this Ramadan season, to Islam’s true lessons of love and peaceful co-existence with others, adding that he wished the Muslim community a successful and spiritually gratifying Ramadan fast.
Also, former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar; Senate President, David Mark; his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, alongside other eminent leaders, urged the Muslim Ummah to pray for Nigeria as this year’s Ramadan fast begins Wednesday.
Specifically, Atiku called on members of the Boko Haram sect to disarm totally and permanently in the spirit of the Ramadan period by embracing dialogue and disarmament in order to save the country from the needless violence against innocent people.
Similarly, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State, his Plateau State counterpart and Chairman of the factionalised Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Jonah Jang; Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi and Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, all charged Muslim faithful to use the Ramadan period to pray for peace, unity and quick resolution of security challenges confronting the country.
In a goodwill message to mark the beginning of the fasting, Atiku appealed to the Boko Haram insurgents to permanently abandon any form of violence against innocent people.
According to him, cold-blooded murder of innocent people was against the teachings of Islam and, therefore, advised the insurgents to embrace peace, using the Ramadan season as the beginning of the end of their violence against defenceless victims.
He urged the federal government and the military to adhere strictly to international best practices and conventions on engagement even as it waged the war against the Boko Haram insurgents in the affected areas.
According to him, “The deliberate violence against innocent people cannot be justified under whatever circumstances and it benefits nobody. The Boko Haram insurgents should take advantage of this Ramadan period to end all forms of violence once and for all, and save us from this endless trauma.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that Mark, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said:
“As you (Muslims) commence the season of Ramadan, do remember our nation in your prayers. You should also remember the poor, the less-privileged and the vulnerable in the society. We need to pray and work together for the peace, unity and progress of our country. We have no other place to call our country. We must, therefore, do all we can to protect and preserve our common heritage.”
Similarly, NAN reported that Ekweremadu, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media, Uche Anichukwu, said: “Muslims and all Nigerians must pray for divine intervention and work together to enthrone national reconciliation and respect for constituted authorities which are the core messages of Islam and the month of Ramadan.”
On his part, Tambuwal, in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Malam Imam Imam, said the ideals of service and good governance could only make meaning, when those in positions of authority see themselves as leaders with responsibility to serve the people.
“Unless and until we insist on what is right for the overall good of our people, our quest for good governance and its derivatives may remain elusive to us a nation. We must use this holy period to love one another, sacrifice for the overall growth and development of the nation, and cooperate with constituted authorities for the attainment of our national goals,” he said.
Equally, Shettima, who spoke in a Ramadan message to the people of the state, said what was needed at different levels of the country was leadership with strong passion to better the lives of citizens.
Corroborating Shettima’s position, Jang, in a statement signed by his Director of Press and Public Affairs (DOPPA), Mr. James Mannok, said since Ramadan signifies purity, Muslims should maximise the spiritual and physical benefits embedded in the fast by adding value to society.
Also, Fayemi, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Mr. Olayinka Oyebode, described Ramadan as “the glory of all months in the Islamic calendar”, adding that Ramadan fast was one of the five pillars of Islam that Muslims must strictly adhere to in line with the injunction of Allah.
Amosun, according to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mrs Funmi Wakama, encouraged all adherents of Islam to pray fervently for peace and progress in the country during the fasting period.
“With sincerity of purpose and supplication to the almighty Allah, we can overcome all our challenges,” Amosun said.
On its part, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in a goodwill message issued in Abuja, by its acting National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Tony Caesar Okeke, urged: “Muslims and indeed all Nigerians to use the occasion of this year’s fasting to reflect on Islamic teachings of love, peace, forgiveness and piety.” The party added that, “the
nation cannot make any progress unless the citizens imbibe and live by such.”
Meanwhile, the former governor of Kwara State and senator representing Kwara Central senatorial district in the National Assembly, Senator Bukola Saraki, has released the sum of N100 million for the feeding of less privileged people at various comprehensive locations within
his constituency for iftar.
He also released the sum of N35 million to buy food items as Ramadan gift for all Kwara monarchs, Chiefs, Imams, Islamic clerics and political followers.
Saraki, in a statement issued Tuesday in Ilorin, and signed by his Special Assistant on Media and Advocacy, Mr. Bamikole Omisore, said the gesture would go a long way to help needy people especially during this holy month of Ramadan.