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Clerics, leaders preach love, peaceful co-existence

By Chris Irekamba, Isaac Taiwo and Kehinde Olatunji (Lagos) Inemesit Akpan-Nsoh (Uyo), Ayodele Afolabi (Ado Ekiti) Abel Abogonye (Lafia) and Anthony Otaru (Abuja)
21 April 2019   |   4:29 am
The compelling need for Nigerians to show love to one another, eschew bigotry, ethnic rivalry and pray for the country to realise her potentials...

Pastor W. F. Kumuyi

• CAN President, Uche, Martins, Others Ask Christians To Emulate Christ’s Love
• Task Govt On New Ways Of Securing Lives And Property
• Kumuyi Urges Christians, Nigerians To Live Life of Diligence
• Govs Emmanuel, Fayemi, Ugwuanyi, Oyetola, Ambode Urge Christians To Emulate Christ

The compelling need for Nigerians to show love to one another, eschew bigotry, ethnic rivalry and pray for the country to realise her potentials resonated in Easter messages by religious and political leaders as Christians celebrate Easter, in commemoration of Christ’s resurrection.

And amid the counsel, the Federal Government has also been tasked to get ingenious in curbing the unabating shedding of innocent blood, which has become the order of the day, thereby making the country a scary place to live.

While citizens were urged to continually hold government accountable for the security of lives and property, which is every government’s basic responsibility, clerics insisted that attaining greater heights as a nation would continue eluding the country if citizens fail to imbibe the spirit of tolerance, peaceful co-existence and sacrifice for one another, which Jesus Christ demonstrated throughout his period on earth.

Leading the pack, the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Dr. Samson Ayokunle, in his Easter message, urged Nigerians to love one another just as Christ loved His people and died for them, adding that the apparent lack of love in the country is what has bred religious intolerance, which in turn has led to violence and insurgency.

Ayokunle, who said: “It is in the atmosphere of peace that we would have progress as a nation,” explained that Easter is an important occasion because it reminds Christians that somebody died so that others might live.

“Easter reminds us that the way to elevation is rough and could be fatally painful. Life is all about what we can sacrifice, and not what we can benefit from it. Easter reminds us that death is not the end of all things for Christians. As He rose from death, we shall rise also at the resurrection of the just,” he said.

Pastor William Folorunsho Kumuyi, the General Superintendent of Deeper Life Bible Church, has charged Christians and Nigerians to leverage the work of redemption that Jesus Christ did, transform their lives and begin to live a life of godliness, holiness and love towards one another.

Speaking yesterday on the topic: “Working with His Resurrection Power,” during the 2019 National Deeper Life Easter Retreat at Deeperlife Camp Ground, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Kumuyi described Easter’s blessings as wholesome as God expects every beneficiary of the work of redemption to show good works in their offices and communities.

At the retreat, which is themed: “Plug into the Resurrection Power,” the cleric emphasised the imperative of getting transformed so as to show good works because everyone would be brought to judgment before God.

He berated the attitude of laziness, gambling, prostitution, alcoholism, stressing that anyone who really plugs into the resurrection power would be empowered to have a good job and be able to exhibit a high level of diligence in all he/she does.

He assured all that one of the blessings synonymous with resurrection power, for as many that are ready to tap into it, is the enablement to live above economic recession and above every power that impoverishes.

The Prelate of Methodist Church Nigeria, His Eminence, Dr. Samuel Uche, on his part charged Nigerians, especially Christians to mark the occasion with prayers for the country, and to keep hope alive.

He said: “I believe that Nigeria will rise again, therefore, we should work together and avoid tarnishing the image of our country, especially those who engage in evil such as killing, destruction of property and corruption. They all should desist from it. We should all work for love, peace, unity, cohesion, integration and for harmony. We should relate with one another as one Nigeria because God has united us together as one.”

The cleric called on the Federal Government to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive, stressing that, “that way, we can develop as a country because the resurrection of Jesus Christ is about development.”

The Prelate noted that, “if Jesus did not resurrect, there would be no Easter celebration. What makes our faith very strong and unique is the resurrection. He died and rose again from the dead and ascended into heaven. He is the only man in history that has ever done that,” he said.

And for the Diocesan Bishop of Remo, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Rev. Michael Olusina Fape: “There can be no Easter celebrations without the birth of Jesus Christ. Therefore, in the coming of Christ, the journey of man’s redemption began. He came as the Lamb of God, who will provide once and for all, the sacrifice that man requires to go back into fellowship with God.”

Also, the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Dr. Alfred Adewale Martins, while enjoining Christians to practise the virtues of love demonstrated by Christ, through His sacrifice and resurrection, reminded them that Christ died for the love of humanity and as such they should show love and charity more than ever before, especially in a country like Nigeria, where there are so many challenges.

He said: “The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundation upon which the Christian faith rests and so it is a very vital celebration for us Christians. As Saint Paul said, if Christ had not died and did not rise from the dead then our faith and preaching is in vain, but because Christ rose from the dead, sin, death and all evil have been overcome and we have hope of salvation. And so, we thank the Lord for the gift of the celebration of the resurrection of Christ. What that means for us, therefore, is as we have followed Him through the discipline of lent; as we have followed Him through the discipline of fasting, prayer and charity, we should continue to live out the discipline, particularly of charity in the years ahead.”

He called on political officeholders to think on new ways of handling security challenges and other vices in the country such as widespread killings.
He said: “We know too well today that our country is undergoing a lot of insecurity, a lot of vices, such as killing of innocent people and so on. Easter should make all of us to begin to think of new ways of life, new ways of doing somethings different in order that the situation of our country could be better than what we are experiencing today. I, therefore, called on our political office leaders to do something new and different so that security can be better, and people’s lives matter.”

In the same vein, the Founder of Calvary Kingdom Church (CKC), Archbishop Joseph Ojo, the Presiding Bishop of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM), Dr. Mike Okonkwo, and the General Overseer, Amazing Grace Pentecostal Church, Bishop Mrs. Chioma Dauji have charged Nigerians to imbibe the spirit of love and unity in order to move the country forward.

The trio gave the charge in their Easter messages to Nigerians while speaking at the 70th birthday celebration of Bishop Ojo, held at the CKC Headquarters in Lagos.

Specifically, Bishop Okonkwo said it was important for Nigerians to see themselves as one, irrespective of individual’s tribe or religion. “We should show mercy, love and be patient with one another. What God has started in our lives individually, He will perfect it, we should not be hostile and resort to killing each other; we should love ourselves and Nigeria will yield her increase.”

Bishop Ojo on his part stated that Easter symbolises liberty and freedom from every bondage. He therefore admonished Nigerians to embrace the grace and liberty of the season.

“Jesus said it is finished. He said the grip of the law was finished. He came to give us liberty and freedom from the bondage of law. So, everybody should embrace the grace and liberty that Christ has brought and pray for the country that God should take us to the Promised Land that He has for us as a nation,” Ojo stated.

“Easter is very important to all Christians because it is the resurrection of Christ, and if there is no Easter there is no Christianity. Christ is the only God that resurrected and is alive. I want everyone of us to look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith and trust in him. If He can defeat death, he can defeat anything; He can change any situation, just trust and believe in Him. Celebrate without fear, it is the time of freedom and resurrection” Bishop Mrs. Dauji admonished,

Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State in his Easter message called on politicians from all political divides to close ranks and work in order to elevate the state to enviable heights.

“In the spirit of Easter, I am again inviting my brothers and sisters on the opposite side of the political divide to join hands with me to build a prosperous, safe and secure state where our people will continue to rise and claim the faith of their greatness. This should be no time for mutual recriminations. Let us show that politics can, and must be more ennobling than how certain people may make it appear,” Emmanuel said.

He added: “Let us begin to build a new vista of understanding of what political contest is all about- that a winner must emerge, and the loser must not be treated with contempt or derision. I remain dedicated to promoting and projecting this beautiful virtue…”

Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun specifically enjoined all Nigerians to eschew hatred and bigotry, which Christ preached against before paying the ultimate price on the cross.

Amosun in the Easter message signed by his Special Adviser on Information &
Strategy, Mr. Rotimi Durojaiye, called on all Nigerians to use this year’s Easter celebration to reflect on its significance in the life of the nation.

“Easter gives us the spiritual power to appreciate the truth that His dying
moment on the cross offers us the greatest illustration of forgiveness,
faith and belief necessary to strive as one indivisible nation,” Amosun said adding that Christ’s resurrection was not to engage in wild and elaborate celebrations, “but to give our lives meaning and direction and the opportunity to close ranks, no matter our differences and circumstances.”

Osun State Governor, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola, wants Nigerians to show love to one another and continue to live in peace and harmony in the spirit of the Easter celebration.

In a message to mark Christ’s resurrection and the triumph of life over death and darkness, Oyetola urged the people “to take advantage of the opportunity presented by Easter to show love to fellow citizens, live in peace with our neighbours and sacrifice for the betterment of the society.”

According to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Adeniyi Adesina, Oyetola enjoined Christians to emulate the traits of humility, selflessness, tolerance and courage as exemplified by Jesus Christ.

“The lessons learnt from the Lenten season, which heralded the Easter celebration should continue to radiate in the lives of Christians.

“Let us continue to be hopeful as we pray for continued peace, progress and unity of the country and the advancement of the State of Osun.”

Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State wants Nigerians to imbibe the spirit of tolerance, peaceful co-existence and sacrifice for one another, which Jesus Christ demonstrated throughout his period on earth.

The Governor, in his Easter message signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Habib Aruna, said the celebration of the resurrection of Christ, which the season represents, should be a constant reminder for everyone to extend the virtues of selflessness, love, sacrifice and tolerance.

“We must therefore see this period as a time that presents us the viable opportunity to think about how we can help to steer our nation back on the road to peace, stability and prosperity, by working in the spirit of togetherness because no nation can make any meaningful progress in an atmosphere riddled with pockets of violence and killings,” the governor said.

Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, has urged Christians and indeed all Nigerians, to take advantage of Christ’s resurrection to sustain their abiding faith in God and promote peace, love, unity and virtues that enhance the progress of the country.

In his Easter message, Gov. Ugwuanyi noted that the observation of 40 days of Lent through fasting, abstinence, praying and charity in memory of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection, “reinvigorates the spiritual strength of Christians and God’s amazing grace for salvation of mankind.”

The governor therefore, urged that, “God’s extraordinary act of love for mankind should be cherished, celebrated and sustained”.

The Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, in his Easter message signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Yinka Oyebode, said Jesus exemplified the virtues of love, selflessness and tolerance during his earthy ministry. He, therefore, urged Christians to use the season as a period to reflect on their individual and collective roles towards promoting love, peace and sacrifice, which are necessary for development.

While congratulating Christians for the successful completion of the Lenten season, which culminated in the Easter celebration, he said the Easter period offers Christians and the entire people of Ekiti State another opportunity for sober reflection, while celebrating with one another the joy of the season.

Fayemi advised residents of the state to celebrate with moderation, noting that the period is not for eating and drinking alone, but to reflect on the past and hope for a better future for themselves and the state.

The former Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku has condemned in
strong terms, the recent killing of 17 people including a pregnant woman by suspected herdsmen in Numan Village in Akwanga Local Council of the state.

In his Easter message, Maku lamented that the spate of incessant shedding of blood of innocent citizens in the state calls for sober reflection.

“The rate at which lives are being wasted in the state is unthinkable and
unacceptable. This is never the dream of our founding fathers. This killing
is barbaric, callous and inhuman.”

“The government must get to the root of these killings of innocent citizens
in Nasarawa and other parts of the country. As citizens of this state, we must continue to hold government accountable for the security of our lives and property because it is the basic responsibility of the government.”

From the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, came a charge for Nigerians to use the occasion of the Easter celebration to pray for the peace, unity and smooth transition of government come May 29, 2019.

Bello, who made the call in his Easter message to residents of FCT in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS) Tony Ogunleye said Nigerians need to pray for the unity of the country.

He also urged them to pray for a smooth transition to the next political dispensation while informing them that as residents of the host city for the Presidential inauguration come May 29th, they were obliged to play their roles for the successful hosting of what will be a major international event.