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2021: Let Nigerians return to God, work hard, shun sins… It shall be well with them

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Stephen Adegbite

As the New Year rolled in, Nigerians, together with other people across the globe, prayed that it would be better and a huge departure from the tumultuous 2020, which brought in its wake the deadly Coronavirus pandemic that adversely affected all aspects of life. As it is now, it seems the New Year is going the way of the previous one, what with the second wave of COVID-19 sweeping across the world. But despite all this, what are religious leaders’ expectations from the New Year? What should Nigerians do to enable them to cope effectively with the situation and overcome? Should Nigerians look forward to better days? CHRIS IREKAMBA reports.

‘Muslims Must Work Together With Govt And Nigerians’
(Dr. Ismail Musa (Chief Imam, University of Lagos Muslim Community)

MUSLIMS are almost in the middle of the Hijrah year 1442. Muslims cherish the lunar calendar because it conforms to the divine order and sequence of time (Qur’an 10:5). However, in the multi-religious Nigerian society, Muslims must work together with the government and indeed all Nigerians to drive social, economic, and political activities. Without a doubt, the single most dominant issue in 2020 is COVID-19. The rate of mortality is still alarming. Economies and livelihoods have been severely affected. This is the time to retrace our steps back to our Creator. We must all end our unbridled arrogance. 

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In 2021, therefore, we must remain focused on shunning sin and embracing divine guidance. In fact, this ought to be a worldwide agenda. This should be mankind’s collective resolve. May Allah teach us humility and servitude to Him!

‘We Must Not Speculate/Predict What Will Happen This Year’
(Rt. Rev. Ndubuisi Obi, Bishop, Diocese of Nnewi (Anglican Communion)

LAST year, God fought our battles, and we expect Him to peacefully lead us through 2021. We expect to have a new year of peace. We need His presence to achieve great success and victory. This is a bright new year with new expectations and everyone will like to move from one stage of life to a better one. As children of God, we lean daily on God’s Word and constant guidance of the Holy Spirit. As children of God, we are to be closer to Him than ever. As we live to please Him, we also desire victory, success, progress, prosperity, and spiritual advancement this year. We hope to receive grace, peace, joy, blessing, and multiple miracles this year. As people of faith, we are not expecting failure, violence, and evil.

We must not speculate or predict what will happen this year 2021. If we base our spirituality on speculations and predictions, then we will get it wrong and fail totally. Our corporate responsibility is to absolutely lean on the faithful God, dependent on His promises and daily guidance. There is a call for holy living this year. We are being called to follow God’s instructions, as they are written in the Scriptures.

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God is not just interested in 2021, He is also interested in all the years of our lives. Parts of our responsibilities include praying, reading, and meditating on God’s Word and living out the Christ-like life every day and everywhere. As clerics, we are there to preach the true word of God, encourage and motivate lives and provide guidance through God’s word and prayer and also live out the practical Christian teachings. We are willing to mobilise obedience and support for the government’s good laws and policies. As clerics, we have to take advantage of this New Year to put everything in its proper place, so we can fulfill God’s expectations for our lives. We have this opportunity to get things right individually and collectively as the body of Christ and in our nation as well.

To overcome unforeseen challenges in 2021, Nigerians need to know God’s Will and be ready to obey Him always. Repentance is all that we need to receive divine intervention over what we have been going through in our country. We must turn to God and ask for forgiveness of our sins as individuals. The religious leaders should stop indulging in partisan politics; rather, they should intensify their prayers for the progress of this nation.

Transparency, accountability, and honesty must be enthroned in our nation. Hardworking, diligence, respect, and love for one another must be every Nigerian’s lifestyle.

‘Whoever Humbles Himself Before God This Year Will Be Exalted’
(Bishop Stephen Adegbite, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Lagos State Chapter)

2021 will be a peaceful year for all of us. It is a year of the Lord, a year of deliverance, a year of God’s interference in men’s affairs. And the Good Lord will deliver us from the current pandemic. So, people should have hope in the Lord and in their Maker and serve Him better and more genuinely than before. Everyone should be prepared to meet the Lord, and the moment we’re able to do this, it’s going to be well with us individually and corporately. Also, leaders in Nigeria must be extremely careful because it is a year of God’s visitation. Anybody who believes that he can do and undo should learn from what happened to Donald Trump of America. Power is transient, as power belongs only to God and He can withdraw it from anybody at any time.

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So, this year, God is expecting leaders to fear Him the more because anyone that fails to fear the Lord will be humbled, as God is in control of the world. He is the Owner of the universe, He is the Creator of Heaven and earth and He has assured us that this year, it shall be with us. Though we walk through the valley of shadows of death, we shall fear no evil … And He is going to prepare a table before us in the presence of our enemies this year and our cup will overflow and He would say conclusively, ‘surely, goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives’ and with a proviso, ‘we shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever and ever.’ Let everybody move away from iniquities, let them remain in the Lord and He will bless us, He will bless our nation, He will bless our rulers and our world in the name of Jesus Christ. I can never share the view that Coronavirus has come to stay either in Nigeria or in the world. Anything that comes to this world must depart one day. There was flu in 1918 and at the end of two years, it disappeared and so, Coronavirus cannot be with us forever. It has a beginning and it’s going to have an expiry date. The Good Lord will take control and it’s going to become something of the past and it will go into oblivion. The name of our God is Jehovah-Rapha, the Lord our healer, He has delivered us from the first wave and the second wave will also go away one day.

‘I Expect FG’s Commitment To Security Of Life, Property’
(Most Rev. Emmanuel Ade Badejo, Catholic Bishop of Oyo Diocese)

ALL Nigerians have seen how low we have descended on many fronts. Nevertheless, we can all expect to see greater sincerity and commitment to improved security of life and property in Nigeria. The federal authorities and security agencies must stop saying one thing and acting differently. They cannot claim to work for security while undermining state governments and organisations that are doing all they can to secure their land, people, and property. I expect that they arrest the rampage of bandits and criminals all over the country and restore sanity and safety. I expect the people themselves to say, “enough is enough” to banditry and indiscipline.

I expect that all hands will be on deck to defeat the nagging COVID-19 pandemic through the enforcement of regulations and provision of facilities for all, not just for the rich and privileged. I expect that the authorities and public-spirited organisations will mobilise support for vulnerable Nigerians wherever they are found because only a healthy citizenry can work for development. I expect that the Houses of Assembly, the judiciary, and relevant agencies will salvage the rule of law in Nigeria. These “checks and balances” arms of government should wake up to their responsibilities. They should redress the injustice in government policies and actions and curb the excesses of the President and some governors. I expect an honest effort to reform and revamp the security organs because we really cannot do without them. I expect that we try sincerely to punish criminality and reward virtues at all levels.  

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I expect the media to give more voice to the legitimate aspirations of the majority of Nigerians than to the manipulative actions of politicians and government officials, knowing very well the power they wield in the country’s destiny. Would that our statesmen, patriots, and elders earn their status by standing up for the truth, especially when its subversion makes us the laughing stock of other countries. Righteousness, they say, exalts a nation. As a man of faith, I expect that Nigerians will sincerely pray and work for better times rather than demonise religion and exploit it for selfish, unholy interests. As for unforeseen challenges, I urge that we cross that bridge when we get there since we have our hands more than full already with the challenges we actually can see. If Nigerians stop deceiving themselves and enthrone justice and equity now, I am sure they will be well-positioned to cope with any unforeseen circumstance that might occur.

‘A Lot Is Expected From Govts In Area Of Technology’
(Dr. (Imam) Abdullahi Shuaib, Co-Chair, Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC), Lagos State Chapter)

WE need to thank Almighty Allah for giving us another opportunity to witness the end of 2020, as well as the beginning of 2021. My expectations include but not limited to witnessing some level of relief, especially from the dreaded Coronavirus pandemic. More commercial activities will bounce back after being ravaged by the effects of COVID-19, due to global restrictions imposed by different countries and disruption of the supply chain of imported-exported commodities, among others. 

One would like to see governments addressing the infrastructural deficits in our secondary and tertiary institutions. Both federal and state governments are expected to invest substantially in technology to take our children’s human capital development to greater heights. COVID-19 has exposed the weaknesses of both federal and state governments in this context. While academic activities, such as lecturing, research, and development were ongoing in other climes; our children are being locked down at home. This is very unfortunate and unacceptable. So, a lot is expected in terms of investment in technology. 

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Also, our hospitals should be overhauled. If developed countries are complaining about their hospitals being under pressure and facilities over-stretched, what will then be our complaints? One expects governments to, therefore, scale up the development of our medical facilities and build more hospitals to meet citizenry’s needs. Having said that, government should also put in place robust and all-inclusive measures to make COVID-19 vaccines available in the country before the end of the first quarter of 2021.

One’s expectation is to see effective coordination of the federal security agencies and synergy between the regional community-based securities to tackle frontally the issue of insecurity, banditry, and kidnapping across the country. Insecurity does not have ethnic or religious colouration. Its victims are Nigerians, people traumatised by the dastardly acts of Boko Haram menace and the criminality of kidnappers and bandits. Governments at all levels need to redouble their efforts in this war to bring relief to Nigerians.

On the economy, hunger is biting hard in the land, no thanks to the rising inflation with its concomitant increase in the prices of food items. I expect the government to address the logistical challenges associated with agricultural produce from rural areas to urban centres, with a view to reducing the marked-up cost usually transferred to the consumers.

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Be that as it may, Nigerians should not lose hope in their country, but reaffirm their faith in the Almighty Allah, Who has sustained us till this year. For, which of the favours of Allah shall we deny Q55: 13.

As patriotic citizens, we should walk our talk to unite our nation. Nigerians are great outside the country’s shores. They are very hardworking, resilient, and goal achievers. As they bond together to achieve greatness outside the country, irrespective of their ethnicity and religion, they should do the same back home to make our country a great nation, blessed with abundant human and mineral resources. 

We must hold governments accountable in terms of how our resources are being utilised. As citizens, we must begin to always hold our elected representatives at the local, state, and federal levels responsible. We should never indulge them when they are being reckless and irresponsible.

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