Leaders, others urge peace, unity, hope at low key Easter

By Edward Adamidenyo, Tunde Joshua, Amos Aherokhe, and Godwin Awodeha

Religious, political, and civil society leaders are among others who at the weekend implored the people to embrace tolerance and peace for national unity and development. Nigerians were also enjoined to have hope and faith in God and the country while leaders were implored to be selfless to checkmate instability. “The greatest challenge for Nigeria is not even the 2023 elections.

It is the prospect for the reconciliation of our people. Here, the Buhari administration sadly has divided our people on the basis of ethnicity, religion, and region, in a way that we have never witnessed in our history,” was how Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Hassan Kukah, mirrored Nigeria under the Muhammadu Buhari administration in under eight years.

He described the prevailing conditions under Buhari on insecurity, corruption and division of the country as a total failure. Kukah, in his Easter sermon on Sunday titled, ‘To mend a broken nation: The Easter metaphor said every aspect of life in Nigeria has been destroyed by the administration while corruption is enthroned.

He said “Our dear country, Nigeria, still totters and wobbles as we screech towards a dangerous and avoidable canyon of dry bones. “One would be tempted to ask, what is there to say about our tragic situation today that has not been said? Who is there to speak that has not spoken?

Like the friends of Job, we stare at an imponderable tragedy as the nation unravels from all sides. The government has slid into hibernation mode.

“It is hard to know whether the problem is that those in power do not hear, see, feel, know, or just don’t care. Either way, from this crossroad, we must make a choice, to go forward, turn left or right or return home. None of these choices is easy, yet, guided by the light of the risen Christ, we can reclaim our country from its impending slide to anarchy. “The challenge of fixing this broken nation is enormous and, as I have said, requires joint efforts.

With everything literally broken down, our country has become one big emergency national hospital with full occupancy. Our individual hearts are broken. Our family dreams are broken. Homes are broken. Churches, Mosques, and infrastructure are broken. Our educational system is broken.

Our children’s lives and future are broken. Our politics is broken. Our economy is broken. Our energy system is broken. Our security system is broken. Our Roads and Rails are broken.

Only corruption is alive and well. “The greatest challenge for Nigeria is not even the 2023 elections. It is the prospect for the reconciliation of our people. Here, the Buhari administration sadly has divided our people on the basis of ethnicity, religion, and region, in a way that we have never witnessed in our history.

This carefully choreographed agenda has made Nigerians vulnerable and ignited the most divisive form of identity consciousness among our people.

Years of friendships, cultural exchange, and collaboration built over time have now come under serious pressure from stereotyping.” He also faulted amnesty granted to terrorists and former governors of Plateau State, Senator Joshua Dariye; and Taraba State, Rev Jolly Nyame.

Kukah said, “We need to start thinking of a Nigeria beyond banditry and kidnapping and the endless circles of violence that have engulfed our communities and nation.

We cannot continue to pretend that there are no religious undertones to the violence in the name of God that has given our religions a bad name, The Trumpet gathered.

“The way out is for the state to enforce the secular status of the Nigerian state so as to give citizens the necessary freedoms from the shackles of semi-feudal confusion over the status of religion and the state in a plural Democracy. We must be ready to embrace modernity and work out how to preserve our religions and cultures without turning religion into a tool for tyranny, exclusion, and oppression.

“I cannot be against a repentant sinner or criminals changing their ways. After all, the doors of forgiveness must always remain open.

However, in this case, Nigerians have very little information as to the entire rehabilitation process. Have these terrorists felt the heat or have they seen the light or, is their repentance a mere strategic and tactical repositioning? So far, we have no evidence that these terrorists have been able to confront their victims not to talk of seeking forgiveness from them. Something is wrong.

“We see these terrorists adorned in our national colours in their green and white kaftans, trousers, and looking like heroes of the state! Are we to assume that they have become acknowledged models for Nigerian youth?

Perhaps the next graduating set might be treated to Presidential handshakes, receptions at the villa with full national colours! Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa has called on Christians to pray for socio-economic and political rejuvenation of Nigeria to stem insecurity, political and economic challenges plaguing the country.

Okowa made the call in a message to Christians in the country on the celebration of Easter, saying that the resurrection of Jesus Christ, symbolised in Easter, remained a turning point in the lives of Christians.

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In the message contained in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Olisa Ifeajika, in Asaba, the governor reminded the Christian faithful of the sacrifices of Jesus Christ for mankind, and urged them to return to God in full supplication for a rebirth of Nigeria.

According to him, the power of the resurrection provides opportunity for Christians to seek God for His intervention at this critical period in Nigeria when citizens were weighed down by unprecedented hardship.

The governor asserted that the turbulence in the polity could only be surmounted through dedicated prayers by Nigerians, adding that with prayer at Easter, challenges bedeviling the country would be overcome.

He said that it was a time for people to show love to one another, especially at the backdrop of the prevailing hardship occasioned by insecurity and economic challenges, and urged wellmeaning Nigerians to render assistance, particularly to the downtrodden in the society.

He said that as 2023 general elections in the country beckoned, Nigerians should exercise their power to enthrone a new leadership in the country that would rescue it from imminent precipice.

His words, “On behalf of my family, the government and people of Delta, I congratulate Christians all over the world as they celebrate 2022 Easter. “I call on Christian faithful to go to God in prayer to heal our country from insecurity and economic challenges.

“As Christians, we must reflect on the importance of Easter in our daily living, not only with other Christians, but with people of other religious beliefs. “Let me urge Nigerians to extend the spiritual benefits of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, which include love, peace, justice, sacrifice and kindness, to one another, especially in these trying times.

Leaders of the House of Representatives have enjoined christians to pray for the unity of the country. Speaker of the House of Representatives Rep Femi Gbajabiamila and the Minority Leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu while congratulating Christain faithful on the occasion of this year’s Easter said the period calls for sober reflection and dedication to nationhood. Gbajabiamila in a statement signed by Lanre Lasisi, his Special Adviser to the Speaker on Media and Publicity, said Nigerians, especially Christians should be concerned with the security situation in the country and always pray for peace in the country.

He as well solicited the support of the citizens for government”s efforts towards tackling insecurity, noting that as a nation, Nigeria is currently facing one of its most daunting challenges.

The Speaker called for peaceful coexistence of Nigerians irrespective of any perceived differences. Also, Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ndidi Elumelu noted that, “celebration of triumphant resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead and the hope of a brighter future for our nation.”

Elumelu on Sunday, in a statement in Abuja said Easter, which points to the victory of life over death, reinforces hope and confidence irrespective of miserable and daunting situation. He said “our nation will surely overcome with our trust in God, love for one another and determination to unite and democratically enthrone a purposeful leadership in our country.

“Indeed, Easter offers inexorable lessons in faith, hope, patience and assurance of the imminent triumph of light over darkness, justice over injustice, happiness over despondency, prosperity over poverty, peace over chaos and unity over division under a new leadership that truly cares for the people.

“The sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ demonstrate mercies of God in redeeming the sinful world, His love for mankind and readiness to bring solution to our individual and collective challenges when we put our trust in Him.

“It is therefore time for us as a people to put aside all parochial differences and rekindle the virtues of love, forgiveness, piety, honesty, mutual respect, regard to rules as well as industry and resilience for which we are known all over the world. “We must begin to look after one another, irrespective of social, ethnic, religious and political differences so as to foster the national rebirth which we all yearn for.

“In the spirit of the season, our caucus calls on those behind acts of terrorism in our country to retrace their steps. We call for the release of our brothers and sisters in their captivity including those abducted in the recent terrorist attack on Kaduna/ Abuja bound train.”

“The Minority Leader, therefore urge the Federal Government to immediately review its economic policies, curb corruption and waste as well as restructure the management of our national resources in a way that will revamp productivity, infrastructural development, engender reduction in cost of food, essential commodities and critical services, boost employment and job creation and ensure lasting peace in our nation.”

As Christians all over the world celebrate this year’s Easter, the National Orientation Agency (NOA) has urged Christians in Nigeria to emulate the virtues of love, service, selflessness and sacrifice which Jesus Christ exemplified. In an Easter message to the Christian faithful, the Director General of NOA, Dr. Garba Abari noted that Easter is a period of sober reflection which should inspire a recommitment to those virtues that make for better humanity as seen in the life and death of Christ.

He also urged Christians to use the Easter celebrations to pray for God’s guidance to help the country navigate its present challenges and emerge a stronger nation. Abari further urged Nigerians, irrespective of religious persuasions, to use the occasion of Easter for sober reflections on how they can add value to the lives of the neighbours and the country at large.

In his words, “Just as Easter teaches that Jesus died to save mankind, if we can imbibe such love and selflessness in our dealings with our compatriots, we would make great positive impacts in the lives of others and most of our teething challenges as a nation would be things of the past”.

While wishing Nigerians happy Easter celebrations, the NOA Director General admonished citizens to remain vigilant and security conscious throughout the celebrations.

In Bayelsa, Chairman of the State Advocacy group, Gender Response Initiative Team (GRIT), Barr. Dise Ogbise led other women advocacy groups to felicitate with parents and children in by urging them to watch and pray for their children against sexual abuse and violence.

Ogbise, who expressed concern over the rising cases watch over vulnerable children and wards against abusive acts from relatives and rise in cases of domestic violence between parents, called on parents to watch over their children and spend adequate time with them and ensure that they are protected from sexual abusers including unsuspecting relatives and strangers.

Ogbise, who made the call while speaking to parents and children in an Easter message to Women in Bayelsa State particularly all over the world, also encourage parents to be more tolerant of one another so as to avoid cases of domestic Violence in the home.

She said it is important that parents watch out for their children, spend adequate time with them and ensure that they are protected from sexual abusers including unsuspecting relatives and strangers.

She also advised children to stay at home and take out time to study their books rather than going to houses of neighbours. She specifically emphasised on the above based on recent cases of abuse on children who recently visited the houses or homes of neighbours.

She however urged her colleague in the legal profession under the Nigerian Bar Association Women’s Forum in Bayelsa State to remain steadfast in the defence of the legal profession and wish them a great Easter celebration and wish them more progress, development, upliftment and promotion in their legal practice.

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