Sylvanus Viashima, Jalingo
August 11, 2019, would have been just another Sunday for the peoples of Taraba State. It will go down as one of those rare occasions with huge opportunities for them to reflect on their differences and shared humanity. It was a day when the Muslims Sallah celebration coincided with the Christians’ Sabbath day.
This was not lost on the members of both religions. In a positive way, they forgot their differences, rejoiced and feasted together and celebrated their common humanity.
At dawn on this Sunday which is also a Sallah Day, Christians and their Muslim Ummah, all trooped out to their respective worship places and centres where they prayed in one voice for peace and progress and for an instant end to the security challenges bedevilling the state and the country in general.
The messages in most Churches and Mosques shared the same theme. In his Sallah message, Governor Darius Ishaku congratulated the Muslim community and assured all of the neutrality of his administration:
“I congratulate you for Allah’s blessings and protection for all of us as individuals and as indigenes of this great state on this occasion of Eid-el-Kabir, which comes always with the great lessons of humility and tolerance as exemplified by the Great Prophet of Islam.
“For Tarabans, this year’s Eid-el-Kabir must be for all of us an opportunity to reconcile with our friends and neighbours and to rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of peace which is the most critical need of the state today.
“Let us, therefore, resolve on this auspicious occasion to support the efforts of government to ensure a lasting peace throughout the state. No sacrifice is too much for this to be achieved.
“Let me also seize the opportunity of this Sallah celebration to restate my commitment to work with the adherents of all religions in the state to achieve peace. We will continue to provide the enabling atmosphere for the adherents of all religions to practice the faith of their choice freely as enshrined and guaranteed by our constitution.
“I urge our pilgrims currently in Mecca and Medina to pray fervently for peace and development in Nigeria and in Taraba State. I also urge the entire Muslim Ummah back home in the State to use the opportunity of this Eid-el-Kabir to do same.
“It is also important that I use this occasion to appeal to all the warring factions in the Southern parts of this state to sheath the sword in the name of God and allow peace to reign among them.
“I urge them to support the numerous peace building measures jointly put in place by my administration and that of my Benue State counterpart.”
Similarly, the Deputy Governor, Alhaji Haruna Manu, said: “Let me first of all congratulate all the Muslim community in the state on this great occasion of Sallah celebration. It is very important to note that, our celebration is not as fully as it should have been because we cannot ignore the fact that there are serious security concerns in our dear state, despite the enormous efforts of the state government.
“This day offers us the opportunity to once again look back deeply into the kind of choices we make to ensure that they are such as would foster peaceful coexistence and mutual development rather than cause crisis and retrogression.
“Today, we unite in prayers for a lasting end to the ongoing crisis in the southern parts of Taraba and indeed the whole state. We cannot make any meaningful progress if we don’t put an end to this crisis. Let me call on all the warring sides to sheath their swords. In this fight, there can be no winner. In the end, we are all losers.”
Emir of Gashaka, Alhaji Zubairu Hammangabdo called on social media users to refrain from posting unverified items in the state to avoid stirring crisis in the state. The monarch regretted that people were using social media to cause disaffection among communities, rather than exploring its potentials for the benefit of all. He urged the people to eschew bitterness and embrace peace to attract the desired development.
The state Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Isaiah Magaji, urged the people to embrace peace and religious tolerance.
He told Daily Sun: “Today is a special day. It is Sunday and it is also Sallah Day. I was waiting to hear that Christians refused going to Church because it is Sallah day, or that the Muslims have refused to celebrate Sallah because it is a Sunday. But that is not the case.
“So why are we finding it so difficult to tolerate one another and live in peace? This day among other things has taught us to live together in peace and harmony. We must put an end to all this bitterness among us and allow the peace of the Lord a chance to reign.”
Rev. Fr. Cyriacus Kamai called on the people to use the special occasion to forgive one another and embrace peaceful coexistence. He spoke after the Holy Mass on Sunday, saying that the rare coincidence of Sallah occurring on a Sunday should be a call for the people to embrace their differences and accept one another.