By Mike Adeyemi and Jimoh Sulyman
Former President of the Nigerian Senate and the Waziri of Ilorin Emirate, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki arrived to thunderous cheers as people in their hundreds chanted his praises at the Ilorin Eid Praying Ground on Tuesday.
His arrival stirred a boisterous situation as people struggled to welcome him, and it took the intervention of the security operatives to disperse the crowd, to allow the former governor settle down for the Eid prayer.
Saraki, who arrived at 8:00am, was welcomed amidst massive cheers from his supporters and well-wishers, who came to observe the Eid prayer in commemoration of the Eid-el-Adha.
He arrived in company of some of his associates, among whom are former Speaker of Kwara House of Assembly, Hon Ali Ahmad, former National Chairman of PDP, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, member of KWHA Hon AbdulRaheem Agboola and former Senator Rafiu Ibrahim.
Also, the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu Gambari and the Chief Imam of Ilorin, Sheikh Muhammad Bashir Soliu made grand entry to the praying ground at 9am amidst rousing welcome, as everyone present paid homage to the monarch.
The State Governor, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, who was also present at the event, arrived the Eid Praying Ground at 9:08am.
The prayer started at 9:13 am, was led by the Chief Imam, who also performed the ritual slaughtering of ram at around 9:25am in accordance with Islamic injunction.
Sheikh Muhammad Bashir admonished muslim faithful to imbibe the spirit of Eid and also acknowledge the show of faith of Prophet Ibrahim.
He also urged muslims to remain steadfast in their worship and be agents of peace during and after the Eid celebration.
Speaking to National Pilot on the sideline of the Eid prayer, a popular cleric and Islamic Jurist, Sheikh Hon. Justice Abdullateef Kamaludeen, urged muslims worldwide to thank God for being alive to witness this year’s Sallah celebration.
The Jurist also appealed to everyone to take the opportunity of the auspicious period to pray to Allah to return peace and tranquility to Nigeria.
Also speaking with National Pilot, Abdullateef Akodudu expressed delight for the celebration and expressed hope that the prayers offered for the state and country would be answered.
He said, “I’m really elated today and I give thanks to almighty Allah for sparing our lives till today.
“I also want to encourage Nigerians to be hopeful and expect God to change the trajectory of this country for better, if we think this celebration is not as merry as it should be, hopefully the coming ones will be much better than this, we should not lose hope, because celebration is about the show of faith of Prophet Ibrahim” Akodudu added.
Meanwhile, chants of “Sai Saraki”, “Sai Bukky” again rented the air at the end of the prayer session, as thousands of people hailed the former Senate President.
In his characteristic manner, Saraki reciprocated the show of love by waving to the massive crowd as he made way to his vehicle before driving off from the Eid praying ground.
Meanwhile, Muslims in Kwara State celebrated the Eid-el-Kabir low-key amidst hard biting economy and other challenges, National Pilot can report.
A cross section of Muslim faithful in Ilorin metropolis who spoke with our reporter lamented that with the worsening economic situation, coupled with the cancellation of the annual Durbar festival, they opted for austere celebration.
Many of them expressed appreciation to God for being alive even in the face of the hardship, while praying for better days ahead.
A civil servant, Yusuf Lanre said he had planned to travel to his hometown for the celebration but could no longer afford the expenses of travelling home.
“I had to send the little I could afford to my people in the village, as my family and I opted to celebrate in our own small way here to give thanks to Allah and pray for better days ahead,” Yusuf explained.
A resident, Sulaiman Popoola said, “I had to shelve the annual tradition of travelling to my hometown in Offa in view of the economic challenges. I had to celebrate Sallah moderately in view of the economic hardship in the country.
“We know everything is tough economically. Yet, we have to thank God for sparing our lives. We celebrated it moderately and hope for a better celebration next year,” Popoola added.
A trader at the popular Ipata market, Saidi Owolewa said the economic situation in the country had placed people in a serious dilemma.
“I am from Omu-Aran and one of the things we look forward to yearly is the big Sallah festival when we travel to reunite with members of our extended family. But this year, the economic situation has forced us to put aside the tradition,” he lamented.
Akeem Salami, a father of four said catering for his children and other family members, was enough stress on his resources.
While expressing gratitude to Allah for witnessing this year’s Sallah celebration, he lamented the high cost of living which, he said, affected the celebration.
A 40-year-old tailor, Nurudeen Akaso, affirmed that the economic situation did not favour stupendous spending.
“For us to celebrate Sallah peacefully and in good health is enough to thank God for,” Akaso said.
A driver at Sawmill motor park, Abdulahi Musa complained that the turnout of passengers during the Sallah was low compared to previous year.
He said last year on Sallah eve, more than 30 vehicles loaded passengers to various locations in Nigeria but for this year less than 10 buses left the park with passengers to different destinations.
On his part, a businessman, Olokoba Tajudeen who was already on a bus to Lagos said despite the harsh economic condition in the country, which has made many celebrators to reconsider a lot of things, this year’s Eid-el-Kabir is worth the travel for him.
“The festival has to be celebrated “Even though we might not be able to afford the luxury that we crave for. I couldn’t buy ram this year because of cash crunch.”
Mrs. Fatima Rasaq, said her family would not be able to travel to her hometown because of the bad state of their finances. She bemoaned the high cost of transportation, high cost of goods, foodstuffs and many other things they would require to celebrate with their extended family.