The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja John Cardinal Onaiyekan yesterday urged all Nigerians, irrespective of their religious affiliations, to see Eid-el-Kabir as a national celebration.
Onaiyekan gave the advice when he joined the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Muslim community to pay Sallah homage to President Goodluck Jonathan at the Presidential Villa.
Vice-President Namadi Sambo led the Muslim community to the President’s residence.
Speaking to State House correspondents Onaiyekan said Sallah should not be seen as “just a Muslim festival” but a national feast that Christians and other religious faith should celebrate.
He said he joined the Muslim community in solidarity to pay Sallah homage to the President.
“As a Nigerian and, even, as a Christian leader, I am celebrating in solidarity with my Muslim co-countrymen.
“As you know, many of us who lived with Muslims have always done this since early childhood.
“Every year when I was a child, whenever it is time for `Ileya’ (Eid-el Kabir), I know I am going to get food in my father’s house even though my father is a very good Christian.
“During Christmas, we carry food to our Muslim friends; that does not make us any less Christians.
“This is how Nigeria has grown and should grow in my opinion; and we may even teach the rest of the world the lesson that we can live together in peace despite our differences”.
The Cardinal, who was dressed in white cassock, said Nigerians must learn to live in peace with each other, irrespective of any religious differences.
“You can see how I am dressed now. I am not hiding the fact that I am a Cardinal of the Catholic Church.
“That does not stop me from living in peace with others”, he said.
He enjoined other religious leaders to promote good neighbourliness and preach the message of peace and unity.
“If you are truly religious, you must believe that we have one God who is the God and father of all of us”, he said.
He reiterated that Nigerians must see themselves as brothers and sister. (NAN)