Residents of Borno State on Monday embarked on a day of fasting and prayer after Governor Babagana Zulum called for inter-faith spiritual intervention for peace to return to the troubled state.
The governor declared the one-day fasting on Friday in a statewide broadcast.
This is the first time the state would embark on such spiritual exercise since the beginning of the Boko Haram crisis about 10 years ago.
The governor recalled the latest attacks around Chibok on Thursday last week and the “most horrific” ones that took place at Auno town in Konduga, during which many citizens were atrociously set ablaze.
“Before these recent incidents, many communities also came under varying degrees of murderous attacks in the north, south and central parts of Borno State.
“I know we have ceaselessly sought divine intervention in our individual and group prayer sessions. These notwithstanding, this time around, I will like us to seek Allah’s intervention, not as individuals and groups, but as an entire state,” he said.
The governor said during the prayer and fasting session, citizens should “pray for those killed by insurgents, armed forces and volunteers who died fighting the insurgents and troops currently in battlefronts.”
“In our prayers, we should be kind to remember thousands who were killed in this unfortunate crisis, and those who gave their lives fighting it.
“We should also be very deliberate that Monday (today), in giving help, particularly of food, to our nearest in need.
“Fellow citizens, we should fervently pray for our armed forces and volunteers, who right now are in battlefronts risking their lives to keep us safe.”
Mr. Zulum said he shared “the grief of fellow citizens who have either lost their loved ones or confronted the agony of watching loved ones on hospital beds.”
“I feel the trauma of hundreds of thousands of fellow citizens who have lost everything and have been forced to live in makeshift shelters and rely on food and non-food aid as internally displaced persons and refugees in neighboring countries.
“Beyond sharing the griefs and pains of fellow citizens, I assure you, that we have never for one second, ignored our constitutional and moral obligations towards you, the good people of Borno State.”
He said as the governor in the last nine months, he had “lived, slept and woken up with a constant reminder that where I deliberately fail to do my utmost best in trying to secure lives, Allah will hold me accountable at His appointed time.”
Mustapha Adamu, an entrepreneur who is also an N-Power volunteer teacher in a public school, said “the call for prayers and fasting is not only a first of its kind but a call that is sync with the yearning of the people.
“The response to the call for fasting and prayer is massive here in Maiduguri from among the old and young. I teach in a Public school, I was shocked to find out that most of our students fasted today because they said the Governor declared so.
“This is what we ought to have been doing all this while. But all the sams, it can never be too late to pray and fast to God for his mercy. We hope this is the beginning of the end of our problem in Borno.”
Another resident of Borno, Akingbule Gbenga, said “it is a good call made by the governor that people should pray and fast for restoration in Borno state”.
“And it is also good from many of the citizens who have responded within and outside the state. Prayer and fasting answereth all human, and we all pray that God should answer our prayers.”
The network of civil society in Borno State, in response to the governor’s call for fasting and prayers, urged all its members to participate in the spiritual exercise.
The president of the network, Ahmed Shehu, informed PREMIUM TIMES that “we have not only responded to the call, we are also going to have an inter-denominational breaking of fast today where all Christians and Muslims would converge to eat, drink and offer prayers today.”
Sheik Abubakar-Kyari, a prominent Borno Islamic cleric, in a video message circulated on social media, commended Governor Zulum for hearkening to the advice of the religious to call for the general fasting and prayer.
“We are indeed happy and thankful to the governor for making this happen in our state,” he said.
“Every one fasting and praying today should make it a point of contact by asking God to expose those who have hands in this. To expose those who are withholding intelligence that could have helped us all to bring this problem to an end.”