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The Ramadan fasting

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Muslims in Nigeria join their counterparts in the rest of the world today to begin the Ramadan fasting, at probably the most trying times that such a yearly ritual will ever take place.

For one, more Nigerians have been sent to the poverty bracket since last year, going by statistics from reputable global institutions. This means millions of poor people are already on forced fasting and, for the Muslims among them, Ramadan is just an added burden because it is compulsory for all healthy members of the faith.

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Secondly, Nigerians have never been rendered more hopeless than at this time when the ship of state is cruising, apparently on auto-drive, towards no particular direction. If anything the ship seems headed for the rocks; and if the captains care, they have displayed no emotion to that effect.

In the midst of poverty, lack of employment, disease, and particularly the COVID-19 pandemic that started last year and has virtually crippled many businesses, this year’s Ramadan is coming as fear and insecurity have enveloped the nation, as a result of seamless activities of Boko Haram insurgents, bandits, kidnappers, vicious herdsmen intent on driving their cattle to destroy farmers’ plantations and ready to kill and maim farmers at the slightest complaint. All these including the #EndSARS countrywide protest late last year still leave sour taste across many sections of the polity and point to a tough month ahead for Nigerian Muslims and Nigerians generally.

Ironically, many Muslims have been looking forward to Ramadan, for the very reasons of the gloom enveloping the country, believing that because the period is specially ordained by Almighty Allah, He will, in His infinite mercy use the occasion to reverse the negatives. Therefore, Ramadan, a month of forgiveness of sins, of showering of God’s mercy and generous distribution of His blessings, brings hope for mankind. It is said that any sin that God does not forgive during Ramadan can never be forgiven. And so, despite the gloom, Ramadan is most welcome and inspiring.

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However, Nigerians must be reminded that God will not come down to earth physically to rearrange the country from its present disorder. He has put men and women in charge of running the country. If Nigerians are on the receiving end of such administration for no just cause, they should hold their leaders responsible. What is playing out in the country today is that Nigerian leaders, for the reason of greed and selfish interest, are not sincerely desirous of effecting deep and meaningful change that can put the country on the progressive path.

It is shameful that many Nigerian leaders who are Muslims forget or treat with disdain the injunction of Allah to lead responsibly and be ready to account for their stewardship. Rather, the country is faced with a situation where the president, in practically all his actions and body languages, displays favoritism to his kinsmen, in appointments and other treatment, as if to facilitate their lording it over on Nigerians from other geographical parts. Yet the president publicly pledged to be a leader of every Nigerian when in 2015, at the inception of his first term, he said that he belonged to everybody and he belonged to nobody.

Even without Ramadan and its hallmark of sacrifice, piety, and submitting totally to the will of God, any true leader cannot conscientiously watch as the country gradually disintegrates along ethnic, religious, and violent lines, pretending that all is well even as scores of innocent citizens, including students and policemen, are daily abducted or killed randomly. It is clear that the country is not working as presently structured; and that there is a need to restructure the country into a working model where the federating states can assume greater responsibilities for their economy, social services, and very importantly, the security and welfare of their citizens. This not-so-complex task, the president and the legislative arm of government have routinely betrayed and ignored. Surely there is no Godliness in such attitude, which is grossly incompatible with the religious vocation of these leaders.

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For the next 30 or 29 days, Muslims will be expected to abstain from eating, drinking, and otherworldly pleasures from dawn to dusk. They will be required to guard their speech and to restrain their actions in line with the spirit of Ramadan, the spirit of giving, supplication, worship, and prayers for the atonement of sins and for spiritual as well as physical development. Muslims will also be required to spend a lot of time reading the Holy Quran and listening to spiritual lectures. Along the line, they must take responsibility by urging appropriate action from their leaders who are so contented with their position that they endanger the ordinary Nigerians.

Above all, government, headed by President Muhammadu Buhari must key into the elevated spirit of Ramadan fasting to do the needful in fixing the battered character of the country. Muslims who fast should not preside or be seen to preside over a system of injustice deliberately put in place or encouraged by official bureaucracy or personal idiosyncrasies. Similarly, Nigerian Muslims who engage in criminality should recognise that such acts are patently incompatible with the holiness embedded in Ramadan fasting. This is the time to repent and withdraw from all indecent actions, be they crime, fraudulent or corrupt practices.

The Guardian wishes all Muslims a rewarding Ramadan fasting.

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