Thursday, 7th December 2023

Easter: Clerics laud government on COVID-19 efforts, urge renewal of faith in God’s love

By Lawrence Njoku (Enugu), Chris Irekamba, Gbenga Salau (Lagos) Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna) Ayodele Afolabi (Ado Ekiti)
12 April 2020   |   4:20 am
As Christians in Nigeria join their counterparts across the world to mark this year’s Easter, clerics in the country have lauded efforts made by the Federal Government to contain the coronavirus disease

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• Tinubu Seeks Increased Stipends For The Poor

As Christians in Nigeria join their counterparts across the world to mark this year’s Easter, clerics in the country have lauded efforts made by the Federal Government to contain the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

While they caution critics to guard against politicising the pandemic, they urge the Federal Government to take steps to help Nigerians get over the pandemic.

To the faithful, they tasked them to use the occasion to renew their faith in God’s love so as to surmount their earthly challenges, including the dreaded COVID-19.

The Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, who underscored the efforts of the Federal Government in his Easter message, said the Catholic Church has since partnered it in efforts aimed at bringing relief to as many people as possible, by offering its social resources, including health institutions and schools for use.

While urging Christians to renew their faith in God’s love, he further charged them to avoid panic/despair, as well as avoid listening to prophets of doom, especially now, adding that they must not forget lessons that God might have taught them in these extra-ordinary weeks.

Also in his Easter message, Prelate, Methodist Church Nigeria, His Eminence, Dr. Samuel Uche, commended government at the federal and state levels for striving to contain the pandemic.

While urging them to do more, he cautioned critics to avoid politicising the pandemic, which recognises no political affiliations, religion and status.

“So, governments should work diligently and assiduously to ensure that the whole thing is eradicated. People should continue to maintain social distancing, as well as observe personal hygiene. If coronavirus doesn’t see a way of spreading, it will stop automatically.”

The President, Christian Council of Nigeria, and Vice President of the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in West Africa, Most Rev. Dr. Benebo Fubara-Manuel, advised the government to be focused, and not be distracted by any wicked scheming at this time.

President Buhari. Photo: TWITTER/NIGERIAGOV

Fubara-Manuel, who said that loss of focus at this time could amount to a loss of lives, wants governments to step up public enlightenment and disentangle the reality of the virus from unestablished theories and prophetic claims. 

He added: “The present crisis has significantly reshaped the understanding of what it means for God’s people to do “church” here and now. It has allowed for the technological aspect of worship to have greater prominence. I have, myself, sent all worship of the church on weekdays and on Sundays electronically to members of my church. But this means that the kind of worship we are adopting is automatic, excluding the poor and the non-technological from worship.”

Also commending civil authorities at various levels for efforts so far made, especially on COVID-19, is the Bishop, Oyo Catholic Diocese, Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo, who in his Easter message urged them to tackle other problems in the country the way they were tackling COVID-19.

He said the government cannot enforce lockdown the same way it is done in America or Europe because many Nigerians are hungry and should be helped.

He said: “People are hungry and understandably angry. Hungry people might not care about virus or bacteria, because hunger kills faster. Easter is the feast of God’s love and mercy and we should be more caring and loving.”

Meanwhile, since churches and mosques are closer to the people at the grassroots than the government, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) wants the Federal Government to involve it, the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), and Nigeria’s Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) in the distribution of relief materials to avoid discrimination.

Speaking with The Guardian on phone, the President of CAN, His Eminence, Dr. Samson Ayokunle, said doing so would ensure equitable distribution of relief materials to the people.

He also commended the Federal and state governments for being proactive in handling the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that all the enlightenments sessions, including daily media briefings by frontline managers, would go a long way in curbing the spread of the pandemic.

GOVERNOR Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State has called on all Nigerians to reflect soberly and intensify prayers for God’s intervention and abiding grace for the country and the world to overcome the rampaging disease.
In his message, Ugwuanyi, who felicitated with Christians, pointed out that Easter is the hallmark of Christianity, adding that the feast, which brought salvation to mankind, offers Christian faithful, and indeed all Nigerians an ample opportunity to come closer to God, promote peace, love and unity, as well as other virtues that would enhance the progress of the country.
THE Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, in his goodwill message in Ado-Ekiti, yesterday, said witnessing the Easter is a special grace from God in view of prevailing situation all over the world.
While stressing that Easter is very significant because it is an annual event that marks the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, he urged Christians and adherents of other faiths to emulate the sacrifice and selflessness of Jesus Christ in their daily lives.

He described this year’s Easter as “very peculiar” because it came when Nigeria and other countries of the world are grappling with the Coronavirus pandemic, which has necessitated a low-key celebration.

GOVERNOR Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, in his message commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, charged Christians to emulate His virtues of humility, perseverance and compassion.
He enjoined Christian faithful in the state to continue to live in peace and harmony with believers in other faiths and reminded Lagosians that the events leading to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ were epochal in the annals of Christianity and humanity. 

NASIR el-Rufai, the Governor of Kaduna State, has told Christians to keep hope alive, even under the daunting challenges of celebrating this year’s Easter in the midst of COVID-19 Pandemic across the globe.

In an Easter message signed, yesterday, by the Special Adviser on Media and Communications Mr. Muyiwa Adekeye, el-Rufai pointed out that the enduring message of Easter, which is victory over darkness, “is poignant amidst the uniquely difficult circumstances in which Easter is being celebrated  this year.’’

APC’s National Leader and former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, on his part, said the Federal Government should not hesitate to print more naira notes to tackle the economic challenges that Coronavirus has brought upon the country.

Tinubu, who narrated how economies around the world have been negatively affected and interventions deployed by some countries, stated that due to the Coronavirus economic challenges, the government must be ready to increase stipends to the poor, through widening the net, and substantially increasing the number of recipients of anti-poverty stipends.

Tinubu, who stressed that a government has the sovereign power and requisite duty to intervene in the economy to stave calamity, added, “to aid in this task, a government has the unlimited ability and again public duty to issue as much of its own currency as needed to quell shortage and buffer the populace from hardship.

“Fortunately, we are not at the stage where we need to implement such strong economic measures; however, we should be preparing a response for that urgent moment may fall swiftly upon us. In doing so, we must be guided by the same lessons other nations have followed. When it comes to expenditures that can only be made in dollars, we must be extra careful.”