By Jonathan Nda- Isaiah and Andrew Essien, Abuja
In a bid to stave off reports making the rounds that President Muhammadu Buhari is suffering from speech impairment, the presidency yesterday released an audio tape in which the president felicitated with Nigerians on the occasion of the Eid-el-Fitr, thanking them for their consistent prayers for him.
The presidency had earlier published the Sallah message on Saturday before releasing the audio version on Sunday to some radio stations, including BBC Hausa Service.
The president who spoke in Hausa in the audio tape thanked Nigerians for their consistent prayers for his quick recovery.
Buhari had left the country for the United Kingdom on May 7, 2017 where he is convalescing from his ill health.
In the audio message, President Buhari also admonished Nigerians to desist from making reckless statements, while resolving to live in peace.
He said, “I am immensely grateful to God for his mercy in guiding us successfully to conclude another Ramadan fast. My greetings to all Nigerian Muslims and our brother Christians on the occasion of Eid-el-Fitr.
“May the lessons of Ramadan namely; piety, self-denial, prayers and generosity to the poor and needy be with us for all time. I, again, appeal to all Nigerians to avoid reckless statements or actions against our fellow countrymen. We should all resolve to live in peace and unity in our great country, which is the envy of many less endowed nations.
We Will Do Everything To Sustain Nigeria’s Unity – Osinbajo
Meanwhile, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has assured that the Buhari administration will do everything to sustain unity of the country and peaceful co-existence among the citizens.
According to him, doing so will give room for more development and enhance welfare of the people.
The Acting President made the remark at his official residence, also known as Aguda House, where he received the Muslim community in Abuja and who paid him Sallah homage to mark the 2017 Eid-el-Fitr.
Receiving the delegation on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari, the acting president said, “Your ethnicity doesn’t matter and that is why for us unity is so important that we must work together to make sure that our country is able to take care of the millions of people we govern. God expects us to take care of the poor and those suffering, to ensure that we use government resources only in such a way that will be of good to the majority of our people”.
While re-echoing President Buhari’s sallah message to citizens, saying that the country must remain united, Osinbajo enumerated the gains of unity to include love towards one another, integrity, enjoying the endowments of the nation, gaining respect globally and diversity among others.
“Our unity is not negotiable. We should make sure that we remain united in order to enjoy the resources God has blessed Nigeria with. So many nations envy what we have as a nation,” he said.
The Acting President used the opportunity to pray for President Buhari’s quick recovery and return to Nigeria, adding that the president still has a lot to do for Nigeria.
His words: “We are praying everyday and we know that the Lord God Almighty who we serve will bring our president back in good health and that he will serve this nation with the same determination and the same spirit of oneness, the same spirit that he has always served this nation from when he was a young man.
“He will serve this nation and complete the period of his service in good health, in good shape and our country will be the better for it”.
Speaking earlier, leader of the delegation and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello, said paying Sallah homage was customary as a mark of respect for the president.
He thanked security agencies, religious and traditional rulers in the FCT for playing a great role in sustaining the peace being enjoyed in Nigeria’s capital city.
He said the kind of harmonious relationship they have exhibited needs to be replicated in the 36 states of the federation.
There were goodwill messages from the acting Imam of Abuja National Mosque, Mohammad Kabir Adamu and the Chairman of the Christian Association off Nigeria, FCT Chapter, Reverend Samson Jonah, who both prayed for the quick recovery of President Buhari.
The clerics commended the acting president for guiding the country so well in the absence of his principal.
The delegation that paid Osinbajo the annual traditional Sallah homage also included Imams from the National Mosque, Abuja; representatives of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN); the Aso Villa Chapel and Traditional Rulers from the FCT.
Also present were senior government officials, including the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Walter Onnoghen; Deputy Chief of Staff to the president, Mr Ade Ipaye; members of the National Assembly; Security Chiefs, including the National Security Adviser, Chief of Defence Staff, Inspector-General of Police, Director General of the Department of State Services and acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission; FCT Area Council Chairmen and senior officials of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA).
President’s Speedy Recovery Nigeria’s Greatest Sallah Gift- Ayade
Meanwhile, Cross River State governor, Professor Ben Ayade said yesterday that the people of the state are fervently praying for President Muhammadu Buhari’s speedy recovery as well as quick and safe return to the country as it is the best Sallah gift for the country.
He noted that his government and the people of the state have ceaselessly been praying for Buhari to regain his health and return to the country.
Ayade in an Eid-el-Fitr message congratulated the president and the Muslem Ulama on the occasion, stating that the people of his state were more encouraged by the message that underscores the celebration to pray for the president.
He said, “As we celebrate this holy month of Ramadan, which is a commemoration of God’s word in the Holy Quran to Prophet Mohammed, we in Cross River join our teeming Muslim brothers and sisters in our fervent prayers for our President’s speedy recovery and a quick and safe return to continue the diligent and focused stewardship of the country.
“We pray God to imbue our dear President with the strength, wisdom and long life to accomplish his vision of making Nigeria a truly organic society”.
Ayade said the thirty days of soul purification and spiritual engagement embarked on by Muslim faithful should spark a fire of tolerance, understanding and mutual respect amongst the citizenry in the country, irrespective of tribe or religion.
He continued: “As we come together after 30 days of sacrifice through fasting, to celebrate the Eid-il-fitr, let me use the occasion to call for a demonstration of love, peace, understanding and mutual respect for all that humanity represents.
“It is important for every Muslim and non-Muslim alike, to seek the face of God in prayer and be the promoter of peace which the society needs at this challenging times we have found ourselves as a nation.
“The moral lesson after the last 30 days is that we should emphasize issues that will strengthen us as a people and eschew hate and bigotry”.
Aisha Buhari Thanks Nigerians For Praying For Her Husband
Meanwhile, wife of the president, Aisha Buhari has expressed appreciation to Nigerians for all their prayers for the country and for President Muhammadu Buhari.
In her sallah message, she called on all Nigerians to imbibe the spirit of love, compassion and unity as basic lessons of Ramadan.
The statement made available to LEADERSHIP reads: “On this occasion of Eid el Fitr celebration, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, I felicitate with Nigerians and the Muslim Ummah over this opportunity to get closer to Allah (SWT).
“I also thank Nigerians for all their prayers for our dear country and the President, and call on all to imbibe the spirit of love, compassion and unity as basic lessons of Ramadan.
“I appeal to all to show true sense of patriotism for national cohesion to ensure that Nigeria attains the greatness for which it was destined”.
APC Urges Nigerians To Pray For Peace, Unity
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has urged Nigerians to pray for the unity of the country even as it advised them to shun divisive and hate speeches.
The party also noted that the economic progress and development the country seek cannot be achieved in a state of rancour, disunity and discord, urging all to exercise understanding at these times.
In a message signed by the party’s national publicity secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, the party congratulated the Muslim Community for successfully completing the Ramadan fast, while urging them to continue to pray for the peace, unity and prosperity of the country.
The statement reads in part: “As a Party, we note that the economic progress and development the country seeks cannot be achieved in a state of rancour, disunity and discord. The Party therefore urges all Nigerians, especially the people of faith, to exercise temperance, love and understanding, while shunning divisive and hate speech.
“The Party thanks all Nigerians for their support of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, and urge them to remember our dear President in their prayers for God to restore his health and for the success of his administration.
“The APC notes that although the country has gone through several challenges recently occasioned by the economic recession, the future is bright as the Federal Government implements policies and programmes to diversify the economy, secure the future and ensure enduring legacies”.