Let’s rejoice, set aside our differences, Buhari tells Nigerians

President Muhammadu Buhari has urged Nigerians to extend the hand of fellowship to those who would wish to be part of the festivities but are constrained in one way or another, as Christians, today, join the rest of the world to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
Travelers at Terminal 1 Oshodi, Lagos…yesterday PHOTO: AYODELE ADENIRAN

Travelers at Terminal 1 Oshodi, Lagos…yesterday PHOTO: AYODELE ADENIRAN

President Muhammadu Buhari has urged Nigerians to extend the hand of fellowship to those who would wish to be part of the festivities but are constrained in one way or another, as Christians, today, join the rest of the world to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. 

The President, in his Christmas Message to Nigerians, said, “In whatever circumstances we find ourselves, Christmas is a period when we come together to rejoice and set aside our differences.

“For me and my family, this year’s celebration is unique. It is my last as your elected president. Twenty-two weeks from now, this administration will hand over to another.
  
“In the last seven years, I have had the privilege of receiving members of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) community on Christmas homage, except the year the COVID-19 pandemic denied us that opportunity. I will fondly remember them as my benevolent landlords and friendly neighbours.
  
“We must never lose sight of the symbiotic relationship between Christmas and hope; Jesus Christ and humility, Christianity and grace,” he said. He charged the celebrants: “In this season of love, joy, and peace, let us not fail to remember those who really wish to celebrate, but are constrained in one way or the other by reaching out to them,” adding, “together we can make this celebration a spectacular one by renewing our pledge and common resolve to work for the unity and prosperity of our dear country.”

Buhari assured: “Until my last day in office, I will continue to provide political and material support to sub-national governments, the Armed Forces, institutions, and individuals working wholeheartedly for the peace, unity, stability, and progress of Nigeria.”

“The advances we have made so far on the economic front, especially in infrastructure; food security, anti-corruption, security, energy sufficiency, among others, will need to be built on,” the president added.

Similarly, the Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who said that Christmas is a period of spiritual upliftment “as both Christians and non-Christians are moved to reflect upon God’s love for mankind …” therefore wished “merry Christmas to the farmer, the student, the labourer, the artisan, the professional, the entertainer, the teacher, the police officer, the market women, the soldier, and all Nigerians.


“I also extend my wishes for a good and happy Christmas to my political opponents. No matter our political differences, we are all Nigerians and we must move this nation forward. Thus, let the hope symbolised by this season of celebration also herald our renewed hope in the Nigeria of our dreams,” he added. 

GOVERNOR Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in his Christmas message, urged Nigerians, especially Lagosians to continue to live in peace and harmony. Sanwo-Olu reiterated his administration’s commitment to delivering more dividends of democracy to residents of the state in the years ahead.

The governor, who appealed to Lagosians to celebrate the season of the birth of Jesus Christ, with moderation, implored them to protect and use infrastructure provided by the government very well so that incoming generations can also enjoy the dividends of democracy.

OSUN State Governor Ademola Adeleke, while felicitating with Christians on the occasion of the birth of Jesus Christ called for a renewed commitment to the service of humanity in line with the true teachings of Jesus Christ, adding that “we must strive at all times for the progress of our society.
  
In a statement by his spokesperson, Olawale Rasheed, Governor Adeleke described Christmas as a moment that reflects the love of God for mankind even as he justified his rice distribution programme as necessary to cushion the effect of a hard time on the citizenry.

RIVERS State Governor, Nyesom Wike, on his part called on Christians to use the Christmas season to promote love, peace, and unity. Wike in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Kelvin Ebiri, advised the privileged in the state to use the season to reach out to the less privileged as a measure of deepening friendship and communal living.

“I join the Christian faithful in our dear Rivers State and the entire world in celebrating the joyous occasion of Christmas.

“As we remember the true meaning of this glorious festivity, may we emulate the Lord Jesus Christ’s love, and kindness by extending our hands to the less privileged among us.”

IN Cross River State, Governor Ben Ayade, yesterday, charged Christians to use the opportunity of the Christmas celebration to reaffirm their love and compassion towards one another.
  
In a special goodwill message, yesterday, signed by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Christian Ita, Ayade said Christians should re-dedicate themselves to the values of love, peace, sacrifice, and tolerance as necessary ingredients for peaceful coexistence.

PEEVED, however, by the reality on the ground as reflected in the hardship that most Nigerians are undergoing, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), yesterday, faulted government’s acclaimed advances on the economic front and food security.


HURIWA insisted that the ruling APC has set Nigerians backward since May 2015 when it assumed power.
   
“The statistics clearly show that the current administration has impoverished Nigerians with its ineptitude in all ramifications. According to the data by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria’s inflation rate in May 2015 when APC took over leadership was 9.0%. But the country’s inflation rate rose to 21.47% in November from 21.09% recorded in October, representing the 10th consecutively monthly increase since the start of the year, according to data by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
   
“Food inflation also rose to 24.13% in November 2022 from 23.72% recorded in the previous month. The exchange rate of naira to the dollar is now N446.63 at the official rate while at over N700 at the black market rate. Whereas it was at about N150/$1 when APC government came into office seven and a half years ago.
  
“Of note, this government has plunged the nation into unprecedented loans. It has approved many external loans for the Niger Republic project. Reports by the Debt Management Office showed that Nigeria’s total external debt rose from $10.32bn on June 30, 2015, to $40.06bn as of June 30, 2022, over a 288.18 per cent increase in seven years.
   
“The government has no moral right to tell Nigerians that it has advanced the citizens’ fortunes on the economic fronts because it has failed woefully. Therefore, President Buhari’s Christmas message to the same people his government pushed into poverty makes no meaning and is simply mere propaganda.”

HURIWA’s position seems to resonate with the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), which, yesterday, said that Nigerians are celebrating this year’s Christmas amidst fear, uncertainty, and untold hardship. CAN, however, urged them to be hopeful as God has not forsaken them. 
    
CAN in a statement entitled, “Christmas: Be Hopeful, God Has Not Forsaken Nigeria,” signed by its president, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, however, expressed optimism that God would not abandon the nation, but would continue to intervene in the affairs of mankind.
  
The statement read: “This year, we are celebrating Christmas in Nigeria amidst uncertainty, fear, untold suffering, hardship, and pain in the face of a harsh economy, record inflation figures, worsening poverty situation, and a weakened security system due to bad governance.

“This precarious situation in our national life can be likened to the sufferings, helplessness, and hopelessness of the Israelites as a result of the decisions of their leaders to forsake God and pursue after their bellies which they have made into gods through greed, selfishness, and blatant corruption.


“Nevertheless, the message of Christmas informs us that God will not abandon us, rather, He will continue to intervene in the affairs of mankind through Jesus Christ, the Messiah He sent to save the world. We should resist the temptation to speak the language of despair and division over our lives and our nation. 
 
“Let the story of Christmas provide us with inspiration to speak the language of peace to our neighbours regardless of differences in religion, ethnicity, or political leanings.

“Our political leaders, especially those jostling for the opportunity to lead our country out of the woods in 2023, should use this Christmas season to reflect on the words of the new-born Messiah who, when it was time to inaugurate His rescue mission in the world, expressed the consciousness that He was anointed to preach the good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind… the statement stated.

THE Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) while calling on Nigerians to pray for their country, assured them that whatever the challenges of the moment might be, only the word of God concerning Nigeria will prevail.
   
The group in a statement by its national president, Bishop Francis Wale Oke, said, “Christmas is not just another celebration; it is a reminder of the goodness of God and fulfillment of his promise of redemption. It speaks to hope, joy, and a new beginning, reminding us that no matter how long it takes to manifest, God’s plan will never fail nor falter.”

While commiserating with families and victims of terrorist and violent attacks in different parts of the country, the National President of the PFN prayed for comfort and strength for them at this time. He called on the government and security agents to work harder to guarantee the security of Nigerians, reminding them that the security of lives and property of the people is the primary responsibility of the government.

THE Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, is displeased with the attitude of the political class, whom he accused of abdicating their core responsibilities to the people while crisscrossing the country in search of votes.

  
Martins said: “Indeed, insecurity is still a big issue that government is duty-bound to pay attention to. I mean, as it is today, it seems that everything regarding governance is being put on hold because politicians are busy campaigning for offices, while governance is being neglected. We must continue to remind the government that the security of lives and property is something that cannot be suspended because people are campaigning. As it were, it would seem that policemen that should be taking care of people’s security are on special duty with these politicians. Of course, they must secure the politicians, but it is even more important that Nigerians are secured wherever they may be. And so, I believe that our security agencies need to plan their strategies in such a way that Nigerians are not left unprotected while the political actors are being taken care of.”

ON his part, the Archbishop, Province of Enugu Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Rev. (Dr.) Emmanuel Chukwuma lamented that the high rate of inflation in the country and worsening insecurity have compounded the nation’s woes.

Chukwuma said: “We are very sad that insecurity is on the high side and Nigerians are afraid to travel to their villages. So, the government must ensure that there is security all over Nigeria during this season and beyond so that Nigerians can travel to their villages.” 
  
Lambasting the APC government for deceiving Nigerians, the Archbishop said: “Again, we expect that politicians at this time must behave themselves and do away with the campaign of calumny that most of them have embarked on. They should let us know what they have to offer Nigerians and must ensure that whatever is in their manifesto must be brought to fruition because Nigerians are tired of deceit from the political class, especially the APC-led government, which promised us a change for the better, and a better Nigeria, but what we have seen is the opposite. This means that the APC is out of order. It is time for expired politicians to give way to a new breed of politicians. We are tired of putting new wine in old wineskins, as Nigerians crave for a new Nigeria; a new Nigeria that will bring progress; where the people will be at peace without, and where there will be no religious bigotry.”

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