President Muhammadu Buhari says this year’s Eid-el-Fitr is an occasion for sober reflection, not celebration.
In a statement which Garba Shehu, his spokesman, issued on his behalf on Saturday, Buhari said the coronavirus pandemic has affected people’s lives and brought “long shadows of gloom”.
He told the Muslim faithful to keep their spirits up in spite of the challenges.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Buhari prayed to God to ease the hardship among the people as they “struggle hard” to flatten the curve, while wishing all Nigerians “Eid Mubarak”.
The president added that the lockdown he ordered to curb the spread of COVID-19 will not go on longer than necessary.
Buhari had ordered a lockdown of Lagos, Ogun and Abuja on March 30 and he relaxed the lockdown after five weeks but imposed a nationwide curfew and banned interstate travel.
In his Sallah message, the president thanked Nigerians for the sacrifices they have made, saying he is aware of the inconveniences.
“Let me use this opportunity to commend 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.”
The president appealed to 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.”