Sunday, 4th June 2023

Clerics, political leaders deplore worsening insecurity, preach peace

By Chris Irekamba, Gbenga Salau (Lagos), Monday Osayande (Asaba), Rotimi Agboluaje (Ibadan), Ayodele Afolabi (Ado Ekiti) and Gordi Udeajah (Umuahia)
04 April 2021   |   3:49 am
As Christians join their counterparts across the globe to mark the Easter celebration, some clerics, yesterday, came down hard on the country’s political leaders...

[FILES] Photo: AA

As Christians join their counterparts across the globe to mark the Easter celebration, some clerics, yesterday, came down hard on the country’s political leaders.

Not only did they accuse them of gross incompetence in handling the nation’s affairs, but they also frowned at the crass assumption that the sustained bloodletting occasioned by unabating kidnappings, armed banditry, farmer/herder clashes, and sundry criminal activities could be wished away by rhetoric, as against commensurate, decisive actions.

The clerics also berated the Federal Government for what they termed lack of capacity to contain the worsening insecurity or nipping in the bud, the activities of outlaws by deploying superior intelligence and military might.

While charging them to rise up to the task of protecting the lives and property of Nigerians, they insist that it was time to secure the country, end the blame game, and get serious with the task of providing good governance instead of paying lip service.

On their part, political leaders preached peace, love for one another, and called for prayers for the country to surmount the ravaging insecurity that is plaguing nearly all parts of the country.
THE National President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Dr. Samson Ayokunle, who identified corruption as one of the major factors fueling insecurity, urged the Federal Government to investigate the sources of firearms and ammunition flooding the country.

He said: “The Federal Government needs to step up its intelligence-gathering capabilities because of all what is happening in the country. If it is overwhelmed, it should appeal to foreign nations for assistance, after all, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and others have done it. So, why can’t we do that and get out of the embarrassment, which has affected our social and economic lives? The insecurity that we are grappling with is worse than the COVID-19, which is plaguing the world. Just imagine the number of people that are dying daily as a result of insecurity. We have been organising prayers to intervene, but prayers alone can’t do it because faith without work is dead. Those in government should jettison their pride and listen to the voice of reason.”

Insisting that bad leadership has been responsible for the lack of social amenities and the poor welfare condition of Nigerians, he regretted “the inability of youths to be gainfully employed upon graduation, and the absence of an enabling environment for job creation. ” he said.

He pleaded with youths that are involved in banditry and kidnapping to look inward and embrace hard work, instead of resorting to ransom taking and killing of their innocent compatriots.

Ayokunle said: “Now unemployed youths are saying that collecting ransom is better than hard work, pushing a wheelbarrow or any other job. That is simply a result of bad leadership. When these things started, those who were supposed to arrest and punish offenders refused to do their work and the crimes festered. I don’t know whether the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) were asleep when firearms and ammunition were being brought into the country through our borders.”

The CAN chief, however, called on Christians to rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and continue in prayer while believing God for a turnaround as He did for Samaria.

THE Lagos State Chapter Chairman of CAN, Bishop Stephen Adegbite, who also lamented that the Federal Government has been overwhelmed by the country’s security challenges, said religious leaders would continue to speak and appeal to it to ensure that the lives and property of the people are protected, while banditry, kidnapping and Boko Haram attacks on innocent Nigerians would also be brought to an end.

He called on the Federal Government to summon the will to bring all terrorists to book and ensure that Nigerians live in peace.

He urged people to be vigilant and report any suspicious movement around them to security agencies, noting, “the time to keep quiet has gone and this country will be one indivisible entity. God will show the evil ones who want to destroy Nigeria that He’s more than what they think He is. He is more than able to deliver and protect us.”

FOR the Archbishop of Lagos, His Grace, Most Rev Alfred Adewale Martins, it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between Boko Haram insurgents and armed banditry since both groups of criminals are now involved in kidnappings.

Martins, who also wondered where the criminals were sourcing their arms and ammunition from, called on intelligence agencies to resolve this riddle and ensure that the culprits are brought to book.

He said: “Obviously, there are people that are providing arms and ammunition to these criminals that are carrying out acts of criminality; they are people who have other agenda by allowing these things to go on. That is the problem that government needs to solve. Our intelligence agencies need to solve this issue if they want to bring the issue at hand to an end.”

THE Chairman, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Imo State, His Lordship, Bishop Titus Akanabu (JP), charged the Federal Government to waste no further time in applying the right antidote to resolve security challenges in the country.

Akanabau, who stressed the need for security agencies to radically improve their intelligence gathering capacity, regretted that kidnapping, which was alien to Nigeria’s culture has now taken roots in the country.

“The Federal Government should work towards strengthening the intelligence sector, find out the actual sponsors of bandits, insurgents, and how they get their weapons. The government has to tell us whether our troubles and current woes are externally or internally structured.”

ON his part, the General Secretary of Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN), the Very Rev. Dr. Evans Onyemara commended the federal and state governments for doing their best to ensure the security of lives and property of Nigerians, adding that a lot still needed to be done.

He called on religious leaders, especially from the two major religions in the country, to close ranks and support the Federal Government in its bid to rid the country of extremists and armed bandits.

GOVERNOR Ifeanyi Okowa, of Delta State, in his Easter message relayed through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Olisa Ifeajika, called on Christians to use the period to pray for the country to surmount her insecurity challenges and other socio-political inadequacies.

According to him, the power of the resurrection of Christ as made manifest in Easter is an opportunity for Christians to seek God’s face in prayers to settle the myriad of security issues and cracks, which are threatening to divide Nigerians along religious and tribal lines.

The governor urged Christians to show love to one another, especially to the downtrodden in the society just as Christ sacrificed himself to save mankind from destruction.

THE Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in his Easter message, yesterday, by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, stated that, “good neighbourliness, selflessness, and patience were among the several lessons taught and exemplified by Jesus Christ and his resurrection.”

Sanwo-Olu reminded Lagosians that the events leading to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ were epochal in the annals of Christianity and humanity, therefore urging every citizen to reflect on how best to positively impact the lives of friends, colleagues, neighbours, and family members.

“As we celebrate Easter, I am extending my best wishes to every Nigerian especially Christians across the country and other parts of the world. The commemoration of Christ’s death and resurrection is a reminder of His virtues of harmony and peaceful coexistence among humanity,” Sanwo-Olu said.

“As we mark this event, I want to urge Christian faithful in the state to continue to live in peace and harmony with believers of other faiths. We should emulate the virtues of humility, perseverance, and compassion as exemplified by Jesus Christ.

“This period offers us an opportunity to rethink our relationships as individuals, as communities, and as a nation. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ signified love, affection, and tolerance. It also marked the end of evil and the beginning of good deeds,” he said.

FROM Governor Seyi Makinde, of Oyo State, came a charge for Christians to, in the spirit of the season, continue to be their brother’s keepers and to forgive others of their iniquities.

While felicitating with Christians in the state and around the world on the occasion of the 2021 Easter celebration, he said: “I want to thank God for sparing our lives up until this moment and to encourage the people, residents, and indigenes of Oyo State to remain steadfast … Christ has paid the price for us. So, they should keep on supporting their government and should, in the spirit of the season, be their brother’s keeper.”

Makinde, in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, charged Christians in the state not to take lightly the price Christ paid for their salvation and to continue to remain connected to Jesus Christ.

“THE Easter season should serve as a reminder of the selflessness, love, sacrifice and tolerance of Jesus Christ throughout His earthly sojourn, his death and his resurrection,” Governor Kayode Fayemi told Christians in the state in his message, adding, “our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ exemplified the virtues of selflessness, love, and tolerance during his period on earth. As followers of Jesus Christ, all Christians should use the season as a period to reflect on their individual and collective roles in promoting and sustaining love, peace, and harmony in the country.”

He called on Christians to pray for God’s intervention in the country’s efforts at tackling various challenges, especially insecurity, adding that no challenge is insurmountable where the unity of purpose thrives.

While wishing Ekitikete a happy Easter celebration, he urged Christians to be modest in their celebrations and continue to observe the COVID-19 safety protocols as laid out by the government and health authorities.

GOVERNOR Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, of Enugu State, in his Easter message, called on all Nigerians to take advantage of the significance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ to advance peace and commit themselves to God, in faith and in practice.

He congratulated fellow Christians for the successful 40-day long Lenten season in penance for the atonement of sins and salvation of mankind, which Easter portends, just as he maintained that Easter is the hallmark of Christianity.

He emphasised that the celebration of Christ’s resurrection and salvation offers Nigerians a great opportunity to come closer to God and promote all virtues that would enhance peace, love, unity, and progress of the country.

While wishing the people of Enugu State and indeed all Nigerians a spiritually rewarding Easter celebration, he urged them to reflect soberly and intensify prayers for God’s intervention and abiding grace for the country and the world to fully overcome the rampaging Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic and other challenges. 

THE Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, charged Christians to imbibe the exemplary life of love, selfless service and forgiveness, which Christ demonstrated in his death and resurrection.

Obaseki, in his Easter message, urged the Christian community to emulate Jesus Christ by making sacrifices that would advance the cause of development and reflect on the purpose of Easter and redemption of our nation.

He noted: “As we Christians celebrate the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary and His resurrection, let us use the opportunity to reflect on the purpose of Easter and the redemption of our nation that will happen with selfless service, love for one another, forgiveness, empathy and hope.”

While wishing Edo residents a hitch-free Easter celebration, Governor Obaseki urged them to adhere to the state’s COVID-19 preventive protocols as they go about their activities.

“As we mark this day, kindly adhere to the government’s directive on good hygiene and safety, including regular washing of hands and use of sanitisers and observe social distancing.”

GOVERNOR Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State urged the people of Abia State to brace up for better days ahead and draw inspiration from the significance of Easter season, which he stated is synonymous with fresh hopes and a brighter tomorrow.

The governor who said this through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Onyebuchi Emememka to mark the Easter celebration, assured them that the state is on a journey towards its rediscovery.

He assured the people that he would not waver from his avowed dedication to the task of rebuilding the state, which he has already set on the path of sustainable development, and thanked them for their support and followership.