Yar’Adua on Jos violence: it won’t happen again
President Umaru Yar’Adua
It was the second time in 24 hours that the President had spoken on the blood letting that drenched the Plateau State capital.
In a message to mark Eid-el-Kabir, which was celebrated yesterday by some Muslims in Kano, Niger and Sokoto states as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, the President said his administration would ensure peaceful co-existence among Nigerians.
He spoke when FCT supervising Minister Remi Babalola visited him at the Villa – in commemoration of the Sallah.
Other Muslims will today celebrate the festival, which hallmark is the slaughtering of rams by those able to do so.
Senate President David Mark, the Sultan of Sokoto Sa’ad Abubakar III, Governors Babatunde Fashola (Lagos), Bukola Saraki (Kwara), Muazu Aliyu (Niger), Ibrahim Shekarau (Kano), Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta), Aliyu Wammako (Sokoto), the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) felicitated with Muslims.
Others who greeted Muslims are the AC governorship candidates for Ekiti, Dr Kayode Fayemi, Osun, Alhaji Rauf Aregbesola and their Labour Party (LP) counterpart in Ondo, Dr Olusegun Mimiko.
The President said: "I want to assure all Nigerians that the Federal Government will continue to take decisive steps to ensure peace and harmony and peaceful co-existence within and around the country.
"I want us to reflect on our services to our great nation. As we observe and celebrate, I want to call on all Nigerians once again to live in peace and be our brothers’ keepers. For all Nigerians, let us identify ourselves with our aspirations and vision of this nation.
"I call on all of us to ensure that we contribute each and every one of us to the peaceful co-existence of this country. And I call on all of us to continue to reflect on the service and sacrifices."
Yar’Adua also prayed that the unfortunate incident in Jos would not recur.
He said the incident showed that his administration took the right step on the reformation of the country’s electoral system.
He said the report of the Justice Muhammadu Uwais-led reform committee would be treated with all seriousness.
"The unfortunate incident in Jos further emphasises the need for us to ensure that this is the last time the nation will witness such a thing like this.
"Let me once again draw the attention of Nigerians to take very seriously the issue of this administration’s electoral reform programme. I want to assure all Nigerians that the Federal Government is fully resolved and committed to the electoral reform programme so that we can have a peaceful, transparent election in this country. As we await the submission of the final report, I want to assure all Nigerians that this administration will take the report and all the issues in the report of the reform of our electoral system very seriously," the President said.
Mark called for religious harmony among religious groups, urging Muslims across the country to emulate the teachings of Prophet Mohammed which are based on good neighbourliness, sacrifice, tolerance, love and charity.
He urged religious leaders to educate their followers on the true meaning of salvation and service to the society.
Stressing that the Jos mayhem was avoidable, Yar’Adua described it as barbaric and condemnable.
The Sultan called on Nigerians to live in peace, pointing out that no meaningful development could be achieved amid violence.
He described the Jos violence as unfortunate and pathetic, saying only peace and stability could usher in development in the country.
Sultan Abubakar urged Muslims to always respect the rights of non-Muslims living with them and shun acts capable of causing chaos in the polity. "It is the responsibility of Muslims to be their brother’s keeper and they should send their donations and widow’s mite and assistance to those that lost their lives in the Jos mayhem to enable them start a new life," he said.
He asked the security agencies to step up efforts towards protecting lives and property.
Sokoto’s Wamakko enjoined Nigerians to live peacefully with one another, irrespective of their religious, ethnic and political differences.
He condemned the Jos crisis, describing it as inhuman and barbaric.
Saraki urged Muslims to step up their spiritual devotion and rededicate themselves to the injunctions of love and perseverance.
He enjoined parents to obey Allah’s injunctions faithfully, and children to be obedient to their parents just as Ishmael did to his father, Prophet Ibrahim, in obedience to Almighty Allah’s instruction.
Niger’s Aliyu enjoined Muslims to imbibe the lesson of sacrifice which the season typified.
Former military president Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and the Emir of Minna, Alhaji Umar Bahago, among others, joined Aliyu to pray in Minna.
Aliyu admonished the people to be patient, faithful, dedicated and devoted.
Babangida enjoined Nigerians, irrespective of their religion, to work and pray for the country’s unity.
Fashola enjoined Muslims to imbibe the spirit of tolerance, sacrifice and mutual love for the country. This, he said, would enable the security and peace to prevail in the country.
He asked them to renew their commitment to the tenets of Islam so that they could maintain the high ethical standards of honesty, industry, faithfulness, discipline, contentment and sacrifice to enable them contribute meaningfully to the peace, prosperity and progress of the nation.
"The diversity of faiths, cultures, tongues and traditions that exist in our world, as typified by the multi-national and multi-cultural character of the multitude of pilgrims that converged on the holy land, is a testimony of the limitless greatness of the Almighty who is the source of all existence," the Governor said, adding that the greatest challenge facing the world today is "to expand the boundaries of tolerance in our time so that humanity can fulfill its potential to create a secure, safe and healthy world that enhances rather than desecrates life".
Oba Rilwan Akiolu I called on Nigerians to eschew bitterness, greed and other vices that could retard the country’s socio-political and economic development.
He also prayed for peace, unity and progress, urging the government to defend the welfare of the masses.
Oba Akiolu, who is on pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, said in a sallah message that more than before, Nigeria needed peace for development to take place.
Shekarau, who worshipped with the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, among others at the Kofar Mata praying ground, urged Muslims to imbibe the lesson of the festival.
He said every event in Islam is embedded in faith, adding that Eid-el-Kabir is one of such.
Uduaghan enjoined Muslim and Christian leaders to exercise restraint and maturity in their activities.
Doing so, he said, "is the hallmark of religious tolerance, peaceful and harmonious co-existence".
"This period should be a time for sincere sober reflection and soul-searching. We cannot afford to continue on the path of suspicion, hatred and needless bloodletting," he said, sympathising with those who died in the Jos crisis.
Aregbesola urged Muslims to sacrifice their personal weaknesses, limitations and vices for the symbolic slaughtering of the seasonal ram.
Suing for love among Nigerians, he regretted the Jos mayhem, insisting that there "is a challenge for us to advance the cause of justice, democracy, rule of law, freedom and respect for human dignity through unrelenting and unsparing efforts to confront and demolish all structures of oppression and injustice".
Calling for prayers for the country’s, Aregbesola said: "I call on our leaders, at all levels of governance, to know that leadership is a trust. The position you hold is justifiable only if it contributes to the welfare of the people."
Observing that religion cannot be separated from politics, Aregbesola urged leaders to be good role models.
Fayemi expressed optimism that the country’s political space especially Ekiti, would soon experience spiritual cleansing.
He commended Islamic clerics for their steadfastness in daily prayers for Ekiti, urging them to continue.
Fayemi said the lessons of Eid-el-Kabir was not lost on the people and that Prophet Ibrahim’s experience symbolises faith and fulfilment of a promise. He said the people of Ekiti would soon reap the rewards of the faith they have in him and in reclaiming the mandate given to him. He said he would in turn fulfil all his promises to them and that their sacrifices, steadfastness and perseverance would not be in vain.
Mimiko, who was on July 25, declared the duly elected governor of Ondo State by a tribunal, asked Muslims not to be carried away by the merriments of the season.
Rather, he enjoined them to imbibe the spirit of tolerance and peace.
"As we perform the symbolic but sacred slaughtering of the rams during this occasion, we must endeavour to sacrifice our personal aggrandisement, differences and other considerations with these sacrificial rams. We, as devout Muslims, must, at all times, emulate the unique character of Prophet Mohammed (SAW) who shunned religious bigotry in Medina as he interacted peacefully with Jews and Christians alike," Mimiko counselled.
The ACF asked Muslims to love their neighbours and live in peace.
A statement by its National Publicity Secretary Anthony Sani, reads in part: "ACF wishes to felicitate with all Muslims in Nigeria over the celebration of Eid-el-Kabir. May the spirit of the time inspire us to make peace with those whom we are at odds, and do penance with those we placed harm on their ways, so that Allah, the merciful, would forgive all our transgressions. As we celebrate, we must not forget that the central message espoused by all faiths is for man to love his neighbour as himself and to do to others as he would like done onto him.
"Democracy rooted in contest of survival, which comes with attitude of to your-tents-o-Israel, should not find tolerant accommodation within the polity.
"Rather, democracy should be contest of ideas and reasons, Nigerians must find ways of coming together in order to live up to their maximum potential because there is limitless strength in one united Nigeria in diversity.
"We must do away with politics of identity in favour of real issues of real concern to real Nigerians. Money politics has not helped improve our democratic practices, nor our standard of living precisely because money is not everything."
Kaduna State CAN Secretary Rev. John Joseph Hayab said: "We are rejoicing with our Muslim brothers and sisters on this important day of the celebration, and may Almighty God continue to bless our nation and give us peace in our country as we match towards moving to greater height.
"We have various things we can collectively look up to as a people and a nation. May God continue to give us unity in our dear nation."
Ekiti State Deputy Governor Sikiru Lawal advised Muslims and all Nigerians to always be humble and grateful to God as displayed by Prophet Ibrahim in exhibiting a total submission to the will of Allah.
Lawal pointed out that Eid-el-Kabir is an annual event that has taught Muslims to be patient and prayerful and never to lose hope in whatever challenges they are facing.
The Supervising Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr. Remi Babalola, urged Muslims to reflect on the lessons of the festival and the teachings of the Islam, which are premised on peace.
Babalola lamented the Jos violence, promising an enabling environment that would make Abuja maintain its lead of being an all-inclusive city.
The National Council of Muslim Youth Organisations (NACOMYO) urged Muslims to see the festival celebration as a period for the renewal of faith demonstrated by Prophet Ibrahim.
In a message by its Lagos State co-ordinator, Murtada Balogun, the council called on those in government to be sensitive to the suffering of the people.
The AC, Oyo State chapter, called on Muslims and other Nigerians to intensify their prayers for the country and learn to live together in peace.
In a message by its Director of Publicity and Strategy, Wasiu Olatubosun, the party said:
"Occasions like Sallah, which is celebrated globally, call for sober reflections if the world would learn anything from various examples of the departed righteous and rightly guided men of God who had worked tirelessly to perfect our respective creed. Our case in Nigeria is even peculiar because the rest of the world rates us as religious and courageous set of people in a land of untapped opportunities."