By James Ameh
ABUJA--- President Muhammadu Buhari and members of the first family Sunday, celebrated the Eid- el Fitr in line with the directives of Presidential Task Force, PTF, on COVID-19 pandemic.
Buhari and members of his family observed the Eid-el-Fitr prayers at the Presidential Villa, Aso Rock in Abuja just as the President of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, Comrade Samson Ugwoke asked Muslims to use the opportunity of the celebration to pray for world peace, quick solution to the pandemic, end to insurgency and banditry in the country as well as quick recovery of the economy.
Buhari had Friday, canceled the traditional Sallah homage on him by the Muslim faithful and residents of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja.
He had also said that he would be conducting his Eid prayers with his family at home instead of the mosque.
According to a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, Buhari had explained that the decision was in obedience to the lockdown measures put in place by the FCT administration “to save lives and protect people from all dangers.”
Shehu further stated that Buhari's decision was also in line with the directive of the Sultan of Sokoto and President General of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III suspending Eid congregational prayers across the country as part of the protocol against mass gathering issued by the PTF on COVID-19.
The statement read, "Further to this, the President who has traditionally shared the joyous moment with top government officials, political leaders, community heads, Muslim and Christian religious leaders and children, will not be receiving these homages in a bid to stop the coronavirus from further spreading."
Speaking after the Eid- el Fitr prayers Buhari said, “Even as we mark the successful end of the Ramadan, and the commemoration of Eid-el-Fitr, we are doing so mindful of the times we are in.
“I held Eid prayers at home today, with my family, in keeping with the protocol of the PTF on Covid-19 against mass gatherings, as well as the directive of the Sultan of Sokoto and President General of the JNI, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, suspending Eid congregational prayers across the country.
“I urge all Muslims to continue to reflect on the lessons and virtues of this season, and sustain them beyond the celebrations. I wish you all Eid Mubarak.”
Also in his message, the SSANU President, Comrade Ugwoke said the emergence of Covid-19 in Nigeria in February changed the political, economic and social dynamics of doing things not only in Nigeria but the whole world.
"It has affected our mode of worship, burial, meeting, shopping, celebration working and so on. Covid-19 for the first time in our lives brought about lockdown, a social restriction on the citizenry.
"In April, 2020 ,we celebrated Easter without the Easter traditions such as Carol of 9 lessons, visitations and the usual Easter Church Service.
"We thought that by this time in May, Covid-19 would have been history but that's not to be. Here we're with the disease spreading like wildfire through community transmission.
"Today is an important day in Muslim calendar, the Eid-el-Fitr celebration and Muslim faithful are almost in isolation. The occasion is devoid of the traditional fanfare associated with the season.
"However, our Muslim brothers and sisters must be happy for being alive to witness this year's celebration bearing in mind that Nigeria lost over 200 persons to this deadly Covid-19 within a short period in three months.
"To our Muslim faithful, I enjoin you to pray for world Peace, solution to Covid-19, end to insurgency and banditry in Nigeria and quick recovery of the economy.
"SSANU Muslim members should use the occassion to pray for the success of our forthcoming National Delegates' Conference and for a seamless transition to a new administration."