The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Thursday, urged Muslims and Christians alike not to see the guidelines released to curtail further spread of COVID-19 as an infringement on their rights to worship.
He said the guidelines were necessitated by the need to safeguard public health.
Buhari made the call in his Eid-el-Kabir message made available to journalists in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.
The statement was titled “Sallah message: President Buhari commends Muslims and Christians for understanding in COVID-19 guidelines.”
According to Shehu, the President said the outbreak of coronavirus has made it difficult for people to gather in places of worship as they used to, urging worshipers to follow the guidelines for the safety of their lives, and loved ones.
Shehu quoted Buhari as saying, “The coronavirus has had devastating adverse impacts on our social, economic and spiritual lives.
“The preventive guidelines we have introduced to contain the spread of this deadly disease have unfortunately limited people’s freedom to gather and worship in large numbers in mosques and churches.
“Every measure that has been introduced to contain this disease may have its unintended consequences on the daily lives of our people, and I, therefore, call on Muslims and other faiths to continue to show more understanding with the government as we take correct steps to protect our people through the social distancing.
“No elected government would intentionally take away its people’s religious freedom by limiting the number of people that will gather in worship centres at the same time.
“These guidelines are dictated by necessity in order to safeguard public health and should therefore not be perceived as an infringement on people’s rights to worship.’’
The presidential aide further said Buhari commended sacrifices of Muslims and Christians in abiding by the COVID-19 guidelines for the good of society, assuring them that, “On our own part, we shall continue to provide economic reliefs to the people to minimize the unintended hardships these guidelines have inflicted.’’
The President reminded worshippers that COVID-19 is a worldwide affliction with churches and mosques closed around the world and social distancing imposed to safeguard public health.
While wishing Muslims a happy celebration, the President called on worshipers not to forget the symbolic significance of the sacrifices of the Eidel Kabir.
“Muslims should imbibe the noble virtues of our great prophets in order to establish closer connectivity between religious teachings and practice
“We can create the greatest impact by putting into practice the noble teachings of our religion. In whatever we do in life, we must put the fear of God in our daily activities in order to make our society better,” the President added.