Monday, 25th September 2023

Easter: Leaders urge unity, end to factors that retard national growth

By Chris Irekamba and Gloria Nwafor (Lagos) Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze (Abuja) Julius Osahon (Yenagoa) and Monday Osayande (Asaba) 
09 April 2023   |   4:58 am
Religious, political and labour leaders, yesterday, urged Nigerians to work towards conquering ethnic and religious profiling, selfishness, avarice, and corruption to urgently heal a nation that is badly bruised, plagued by widening faultlines, and teetering on the brink of collapse.

Travellers at Oshodi bus terminal in Lagos…yesterday. PHOTO: AYODELE ADENIRAN

Religious, political and labour leaders, yesterday, urged Nigerians to work towards conquering ethnic and religious profiling, selfishness, avarice, and corruption to urgently heal a nation that is badly bruised, plagued by widening faultlines, and teetering on the brink of collapse.

According to clerics, since Easter is also a time for the government and Nigerians to increase their commitment and vigour in confronting national challenges and difficulties, ranging from insecurity, and poverty to unemployment, given the fact that these challenges have made it difficult to feel optimistic about the present, not to mention the future.

Also identified as factors that retard the country’s greatness are false witnessing, fake news, betrayal, character assassination, and murder to which the Catholic Bishop of Oyo Diocese, Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo, called for an end to them, adding that the country would not progress with the abundance of these vices.

While the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) called on leaders to imbibe the virtues of Easter through the manifestation of forgiveness, sacrifice, hope, and sincerity, it stressed that these virtues should not be treated as platitudes, but as core values for healing, rebuilding, and repositioning of the country.

For the President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the country will make “faster progress towards the achievement of the peaceful, united, strong, progressive and prosperous country we all desire if we eschew divisive, parochial, ethnic and religious sentiments, rivalries, and begin to live more harmoniously with our compatriots.”

The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Archbishop Daniel Okoh, told The Guardian that Christians in the country must rise and overcome the fears that restrain them to their religious and ethnic cleavages, eschew issues that separate them from the will of God, and those things that tend to divide them such as ethnic and religious profiling, selfishness and greed.

While urging Nigerians to continue to relate with each other in love, and mutual respect, and work for enduring peace in the country, he added: “The reality of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ reminded His disciples of what He told them about his victory over death in Matthew 16:21, and brought a new confidence in the power of God to make all things possible. The empty tomb (Luke 24:1-8) is proof of God’s power to transform any situation and persons, no matter how bad they seem”.

Show unconditional love of God to everyone ­–– Ndukuba
For the Primate of All Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Rev Henry Ndukuba, Christians must show the true and unconditional love of God to everyone, including their enemies as demonstrated by the death of Jesus Christ.

He said: “The love of God demands that we love unconditionally. We love even those that insult and abuse us; we love even our traitors and our enemies, we love all. But it makes us vulnerable; the world will look at you and say this man is foolish. But that is the wisdom and power of God. Love is the greatest of all.

Ndakuba continued: “From our human perspective, we would have called it a dark Friday because of the gruesome treatment that was given to our Lord Jesus Christ, but we call it Good Friday because it happened to fulfill the word of God, this was God’s eternal plan from the foundations of the world, even as man failed in the Garden of Eden God already put in place a programme of our restoration, and that restoration could not be accomplished except He demonstrated that He is a righteous God,” Ndukuba stated.

Kaigama calls for personal and national rebirth
On his part, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Most Reverend Ignatius Kaigama, charged Nigerians to stand together as a nation and genuinely work towards peace, and unity and not allow themselves to be divided by ethnicity, religion, or political affiliation.

In his Easter message message titled, “Towards Personal and National Rebirth,” yesterday in Abuja, Kaigama observed that Easter is a time of renewal, rebirth, and hope and a time to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the victory of life over death.

He said: “As we celebrate all these beautiful realities at Easter, we all must take a moment to reflect on the significance of Easter and what it implies for us Christians and Nigerians as a whole. Easter reminds us that even in the darkest of times, there is always hope. Just as Jesus overcame death and rose from the dead, we too can overcome all the things that weigh us down and reach for the heights. But we must continue to believe in ourselves and in our ability to make a positive change in our country.”

Kaigama who explained that Nigerians have the power to shape their future added that with the right political leadership, the country can overcome any obstacle, and build a brighter future for its people.

Badejo: Fight falsehood, stop demonising one another 
Badejo who emphasised the need to wage an unrelenting war against falsehood and division stressed that nothing destroys families, relationships, associations, parties, and countries like them hence the need for Nigerians to stop demonising one another.

In warning that ethnic profiling, which makes other people look evil and undesirable is a sin against God and humanity, he added: “Jesus condemned sin but never the sinner. Let us emulate him at Easter. Easter Sunday commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. It is good news, no matter how bad things are around us. Life overcomes death, good wins over evil, and the truth triumphs over the falsehood of sin. At Easter, we are called to follow the road Jesus travelled to his resurrection. He was fully obedient to God who sent him. He was focused on his mission…”

Return Nigeria to true Federation — Martins 
Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos, His Grace, Most Reverend Alfred Adewale Martins, has called on the incoming government to return Nigeria to a true Federal Republic so that states can take full advantage of the human and material resources within their environment.

Speaking with The Guardian on the telephone, Martins said: “I think this is extremely important because restructuring, or whatever name one calls it is important. The government that is coming to power needs to pursue it, and I think this will have a ripple effect on national security, education, and so many other aspects of the life of the nation.”

He added that Nigeria deserves a leadership that is capable of ensuring the welfare of Nigerians, irrespective of tribe, religion, or gender, which according to him, should be given priority.

Tinubu: Easter symbolises triumph 0f hope over despair, love over hate
Noting that Easter is about renewed hope and redemption, Tinubu in his Easter message said the season “symbolizes the triumph of hope over despair, love over hate and condemnation, and optimism over cynicism. Let us embrace this spirit and recommit ourselves to edifying and patriotic pursuits in the interest of our nation.”

He continued: “For Christians everywhere, this celebration is in commemoration of Jesus Christ’s life of service and his supreme sacrifice for the salvation of mankind.
And as we observe Easter this year, let us all imbibe the essential message of Christ’s ministry and truly begin to love our fellow Nigerians as we love ourselves.

“We will make faster progress towards the achievement of the peaceful, united, strong, progressive and prosperous country we all desire if we eschew divisive, parochial, ethnic and religious sentiments and rivalries, and begin to live more harmoniously with our compatriots,” the President-elect said.

Joe Ajaero

Leaders have inflicted serious pains on Nigerians 
The NLC President, Joe Ajaero, in a statement in commemoration of Easter, urged Christian faithful and others to celebrate Easter in peace, regretting that leaders at various tiers have brought upon the citizens, a high level of pain, deprivation, and acrimony.

While promising to sensitise the masses on their rights, he noted that the NLC will resist any attempt to criminalise the hard-earned right to peaceful protest against the ills perpetrated by operators of the Nigerian state.

PDP urges justice, hope for national rebirth
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, urged Nigerians to use the occasion to pray for the triumph of justice in the country.

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, the party noted that “the coming of Easter, at the time Nigerians are despondent over the outcome of the 2023 general elections, serves as an assurance that no matter how long falsehood and manipulation appear to thrive, the truth will surely prevail at the end of the day.”

The PDP said that it is saddened that Nigerians are again observing a celebration such as Easter in hardship, fear, insecurity, and hopelessness occasioned by the misrule of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

“Our party, therefore, charges Nigerians to persevere in prayers and continue to care for, show love and share at this critical time in hope for a better nation under a people-enthroned leadership” the statement added.

Bayelsa State governor Duoye Diri. Photo: VON

Diri tasks Christians on love— compassion
Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State has urged Nigerians, particularly Christians and residents of the state, to emulate the virtues of love, compassion, sacrifice, peace, and humility demonstrated by the Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Diri, in his Easter message issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Alabrah, said it was love, compassion, and the highest form of sacrifice that made Jesus die on the cross.

“The major lesson in the death and resurrection of Jesus is that of hope for everyone. As I join other Christians to celebrate the significant season of Easter, I urge all to rekindle their hope in God and governmental institutions.”

Emulate Christ, Okowa tells Christians 
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, in his Easter message, called on Christians to emulate the virtues of Jesus Christ, who despite his heavenly endowments, took up the cross to redeem mankind.

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Olisa Ifeajika, he said that Nigeria was in a critical period, plagued by varying challenges, and uncertainties, and charged Christians to use the solemnity of Easter to go in full supplications to God for His intervention.

“Easter is the reason why we are called Christians. But, Christianity places a demand on all of us – the responsibility to look out for each other and be our brother’s keepers,” Okowa added.

Ugwuanyi preaches peace, love
In his Easter message, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State called on Christians, and indeed all Nigerians to reflect and commit themselves to the advancement of peace, love, and unity in appreciation of the great sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for the atonement of sins and salvation of mankind.

Governor Ugwuanyi stressed God’s kindness, faithfulness, mercy, and abiding love by sending His only begotten son to the world to suffer and die for the salvation of mankind, urging Christians and Nigerians at large to reciprocate the enduring sacrifice by intensifying prayers and promoting peace, love, unity, and progress in the country.