2016: What Clerics Hope For In New Year
There is no doubt that Nigerians are yearning for a positive turnaround of the nation’s dwindling fortunes. There is palpable feeling of frustrations and despair in the air. And when things get like this, religion becomes the beacon of hope for many, the refuge where they seek solace. The religious leaders are also living up to their billing, as they readily dish out hopeful and encouraging messages to their followers. So, as 2016 unveils, what words of advice do the clerics have for the people? Are affairs going to get better or worse? What must Nigerians do to overcome unforeseen challenges in the New Year? CHRIS IREKAMBA reports.
‘We Must Resolve To Make Nigeria Work In 2016’
(The Most Rev. Emmanuel A. S. Egbunu, Bishop of Lokoja Diocese/Archbishop of Lokoja Province)
WE thank God for bringing us to a new year and the nightmare of an impending election is put behind us. The major challenge ahead of us as a nation in 2016 is stability. We have been tossed, buffeted and shaken in the past year by insecurity, economic scandals and uncertainties, and a general search for a new direction. That is what made the “Change” slogan work like a spell on Nigerians.
The people wanted change; any kind of change. The challenge is to prove that it has been a worthwhile change. There must be a deliberate effort to turn around wasted opportunities, wasting facilities, and the mismanaged resources of this nation. What are the alternatives to oil? What shall we do about the moribund Ajaokuta steel complex, Itakpe iron ore, the refineries, the textile industries, the railway, the empty hospitals, the educational institutions that turn out half-illiterates and the schools taken from missionaries among others. Our youths must be made stakeholders and not just spectators or squatters in midwifing this new Nigeria.
Nigeria must become a nation, where laws are not only made, but also applied to all. It must not be selectively applied, whereby some are sacred cows and some are victims. From the traffic rules, where people exhibit reckless driving habits that endanger other lives, to the big business people that evade tax, we must resolve to make Nigeria a place where things can work.
The present face-off between farmers and the Fulani herdsmen requires firm and permanent solution, as this has become counter productive to the government’s mobilisation for renewed interest in agriculture. Overnight, people have lost huge investments in agriculture because cattle were taken to graze on fields ready for harvest. Many farming communities are now disenchanted. We do not expect change overnight, but a solid foundation for a new Nigeria can be laid. There must be a resolve by all and sundry to do whatever it takes— sacrifice and discipline— to turn things around. People must work for their pay, and not see corruption as the unchangeable profile of the Nigerian nation. We must also identify and reward merit appropriately wherever found.
Let us believe that God can still change Nigeria for the better. We are so greatly endowed with rare human and natural resources. We must reverse the brain-drain syndrome to a passion for happy homecoming to those in the Diaspora. Religious leaders and followers must pray for the healing of the nation and also model integrity. There has been widespread credibility gap, whereby some have made religion to become the lazy man’s alternative. Religious commitment brings about change in people’s hearts and attitudes, which in turn leads to change in the society. We must seek to make Nigeria the nation that people can believe in once again.
Many well-meaning Nigerians have quit out of sheer disgust for a nation, where people have resisted great ideas for selfish reasons. For Nigerian Christians, we must understand that we need to do some house cleaning that can authenticate our mission of pointing our nation in the direction of true greatness. We must pray for the emergence of true statesmen, whose expertise is wasting away unused. The Church must be made relevant as light and salt in a society that needs direction in more ways than one. May God take us higher. Amen.
‘I Expect Govt. To Fulfil Resolution Made Before And After Elections’
(Professor Dawud O. S. Noibi, Executive Secretary/CEO Muslim Ummah of Southwest Nigeria (MUSWEN)
INCIDENTALLY, Islam does not restrict the making of resolutions to a particular period or date. On the contrary, it directs every adherent to give up undesirable habits promptly the moment you realise it is disapproved by Allah (God), and the determination not to go back deliberately to committing it again, as stated in Qur’an 3:135 and also encouraged in 25:70, 71. By the same token, resolving to strive and do what is good is not something you should do only on December 31 or January 1 or any other date for that matter.
Besides, a resolution is best sustained, when backed up with a sense of reward or that of sanction. For instance, when a Muslim resolves to give up smoking, that resolution remains sustainable, if it arose from the consciousness of obedience to Allah’s command that you should do away with anything that could lead to self-destruction, Qur’an 2:185. Then, the assurance of a good reward helps you in sustaining the resolution. On the other hand, lack of hope of any reward for any such resolution merely as a “New Year Resolution” does not make it stand an equal chance of sustainability.
Meanwhile, for administrative purposes, I expect government to maintain its “Resolution” made before and after the elections on behalf of the nation to bring sustainable “change.” I also appeal to fellow Nigerians to bear in mind that we are in this world only to “do the will of God.” So, let everyone resolves to do so and strive to fulfil the resolution.
‘If People Live In Isolation From God, They Should Not Expect Anything’
(Pastor Lazarus Muoka, General Overseer of the Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Revival Ministries Worldwide)
AS we continue to pray for this nation, Nigeria will be transformed by the power of God. And so, 2016 and in the years to come, God is going to take preeminence, but on the condition that the people draw nearer to Him. But if Nigerians live in isolation from God, of course, they should not expect anything from Him. So, our prayer is that people will draw nearer to God and as they do so, He will transform them, as well as make the nation better for all of us. We believe that God will enable the nation take the right turn.
But we must not forget that we are in the last days, as the Bible says, ‘in the last days, perilous time shall come.’ There are many things that will be happening all over the world and not only in Nigeria. Iniquity shall abound and all these things that we are seeing today — earthquake, wars and terrorism among others, are prophecies of the last days. So, everybody should understand that this world is not a permanent place of abode, as we will all leave it one day. God is allowing these things so that people will draw nearer to Him and stop seeing the world as heaven; there is no heaven on earth.
However, the issue is that as Christians and believers, we believe that when we amend our ways, we will enjoy God’s presence and when He is with you, automatically your supply or hope will not just be on earthly economy, but your security should be in God. And so, Christians, believers and children of God will be protected in these last days just like it happened in Egypt, when God kept the children of Israel in Goshen and they did not experience all the calamities that took place in Egypt. They enjoyed the presence of God. So, I want to let people know that security and prosperity are in the hands of God and not in the world, because the things of this world will pass away. What the people need to do is to draw closer to the Lord. Whoever you are, as you draw closer to God, you will see His goodness. He will protect you, provide for you, fight for you and give you the needed peace.
So, what I want to say is that with our prayer next year; and people giving their lives to Christ and living right, it shall be well with them. My prayer is that, the will of God should be done in 2016. The will of God is not the will of man. So, let the will of God be done in 2016.
‘We Should Put God First And Stop Cutting Corners’
(Isaac Adeyemi, Senior Pastor, Embrace International Assembly, Ikorodu, Lagos)
WE thank the Almighty God for sparing our lives to see the end of year 2015, believing Him that He that has brought us this far will usher us gracefully into 2016. Some people might be thinking that they have nothing to thank God for. Perhaps the outgoing year was not as good as they had hoped, or they encountered certain challenges and disappointments in the course of the year. However, the word of God says: “Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:18-19 NKJV). When there is life, there is hope. Being alive to try and hope again is an opportunity the dead does not have. Thus, as we are alive, we are privileged to harness the opportunities in the New Year, and to also be thankful to God.
The year 2015 was indeed an eventful one, with so many ups and downs in the lives of individuals, organisations and the country as a whole. A new president was sworn in with high hopes and expectations from the people for a ‘Change.’ I pray that we will indeed experience positive changes in every area of our lives and nation in Jesus name. We, however, need to maintain a positive attitude as we are in the New Year, if we are to enjoy the benefits loaded in it. As a nation, we all have roles to play. The government needs to live up to its responsibilities and not toy with both the aspirations and expectations of the people. Government officials should remember that their roles should be that of service to the people and not lordship and embezzlement of public funds. Many of our leaders have been to foreign countries and have seen the ways things are run there. If they can take a cue from the good things done in those countries, it will go a long way in making lives better for us as a nation. They should rule in the fear of God.
The masses also have their roles to play. We cannot leave it all to the government. The much-desired change starts from you and me in our own little ways. As a nation, we need to make up our mind about how we want the year 2016 to turn out for us. Both the government and the governed should strive to play their roles according to their capacities. We should maintain positive attitudes: making positive confessions about our nation, believing in its progress and above all, not ceasing to pray for the country. We should shun political violence, ethnic and racial discrimination, as well as religious conflicts. We should seek and pray for the prosperity of Nigeria because therein lies our own prosperity, too. The Bible says: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, Prosperity within your palaces”(Psalms 122:6-7 NKJV). These also apply to our personal lives and businesses. We, however, cannot rule out the place of hard work. If we want to conquer territories and achieve success in our endeavours in the coming year, we must be ready to give it all it takes positively. We must work hard and be determined to make it. We should put God first and not cut corners. After doing our best, we can then leave the rest to God, and believe me; Nigeria shall enter into its season of blossoming in 2016.
‘Nigerians Should Be Law-abiding And Prayerful’
(Dr. Ismail A. Musa, Associate Professor Department of Arts and Social Sciences Education/Deputy Imam, UNILAG Muslim Community Mosque, University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos)
I SINCERELY pray that 2016 and beyond will usher in greater God-consciousness in all facets of our life. The present government should be innovative in addressing the challenges facing the nation.
We should demonstrate the ingenuity God has domiciled in us. Nigerians should be law-abiding, offer constructive ideas to government and be prayerful.
We all have one positive thing or the other to contribute towards moving away from the mistakes of the past. This is our chance.
‘Religious Leaders Must Be Courageous And Sincere’
(Most Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo, Catholic Bishop of Oyo Diocese)
IN the New Year 2016, I look forward to when we will leave behind much of the vices and tackle the challenges of our country in previous years. Aside from the social ills, which have been flogged by practically everybody namely: corruption, unemployment, bad leadership and collapsed infrastructure among others, I would like to see an overall change of attitude in Nigerians. Without an attitudinal change and a new orientation, it is impossible to turn anything involving human beings around. Nigerians generally must leave behind the cynicism, which has become a demobiliser of most of our good effort.
Most Nigerians, debilitated by past experiences, have lost faith in government, the academia and even now have doubts about religion. This must change. Let us all talk less and act more. We must be more positive about humanity, ourselves, our country, about God, religion and the possibility of positive change. It is this groundswell of the “CAN DO” attitude that conquers evil and vices. Each one of us should become a crusader of virtues. Evil prevails because good people are lukewarm. Religious leaders must be more courageous and sincere. The fate of society is also a game of numbers. Let everyone challenge corruption, fraud, deceit, ignorance, and indolence in his own family, school, workplace and the church and we will all be well on the way to a better country. Change will be granted us only if we unite to provoke it. Let us bring back personal and social discipline and prudence to our lives. Let our businesses, churches, our artistes, sportsmen and celebrities engage in social responsibility activities in favour of the less privileged and we shall surely end 2016 on the path of restoration and prosperity in spite of the general depression in the world. We pray for the best and happy 2016 to all.
‘2016 Year Of All Sufficiency’
(Bishop Mike Okonkwo, Presiding Bishop of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission, TREM)
I CALL on every Nigerian not to lose hope, because we have entered into the New Year, as a year of “All Sufficiency” in spite of the daunting socio-economic challenges facing us as a nation because Nigeria has a great future, which God has laid out plans for.
I, therefore, urge Nigerians to put their trust solely in God because we are going to overcome every financial limitation and constraints, necessitated by the present global economic downturn. God has said He would surely stand. I challenge every Nigerian to look forward to a great future. Every Nigerian should always go to God in prayers, and not lose hope, because the worst thing that can happen to any person or nation is not to have hope. If you lose hope, then, there is no point in living at all. But since there is hope and a place to run to, then, it is best we seek refuge in that place and be sure of tomorrow.
It has become very necessary, especially now, to call on all Christians to trust God for all round sufficiency in the New Year because daily, socio-economic theories and human postulations are falling apart before our very eyes. It is no longer about being astute, skilled or being a professional, but it is now all about God and His infallible word. Daily, concepts and great ideologies are failing but it is only the word of God that cannot fail, as it remains reliable and constant. It is, therefore, the connection you have with God, Who has promised His Sufficiency that will stand in 2016.
In 2016, there is need for Christians to continually pray for all our political office holders for God’s grace and wisdom to steer the ship of this nation, so that we would all arrive at God’s ordained destiny. We should also pray that violence and insurgency will cease in Nigeria because there will be no meaningful development, if we continue to experience an atmosphere of violence.
I have prayed and I know that the year 2016 promises to be a year of all sufficiency for us as a nation. I declare that God will cause us to have abundance individually and collectively in the New Year, as we seek Him. I encourage everyone to remain steadfast in the faith, knowing that God has just started with us as a people and as a nation. This is only the beginning, as we have not seen anything yet. There shall be pleasant surprises in 2016.
‘2016 Is A Year Of Divine Change And Prosperous New Year’
(His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Udofia, Primate of the African Church)
THE year 2015 has come and gone, but the challenges encountered could not be overemphasised. Every generation has come with some peculiar problems and also come with men and women that will help overcome these challenges. So, as we depend on God in 2016, the government should improve the surveillance and expertise training of the Nigerian soldiers to combat the cunning strategies of the insurgents. The Herdsmen should be given proper training in modern grazing system. It would be better, if they were provided with reserved grazing fields, involving their children in an inclusive education.
The issue of the aggrieved MASSOB must be seriously looked into with a view to addressing their grievances. Kidnappers must be discouraged by allowing them to face the full weight of the law, so as to discourage future occurrence. Good job opportunities should be made available to the youths. In 2015, the devaluation of Naira was so alarming, including the dropping of oil prices globally, which led to drop in revenue, income distribution and non-payment of salaries in some parts of the country, which brought sadness to many during this festive period. This should be given a second look by discovering other sources of revenue for the nation. The government should look inward to the extraction of natural resources, improve agricultural sector by means of mechanised farming, as well as grant loan facilities to the farmers and formulate policies on preservation and exportation of their farm produce to improve the national GDP.
Some parts of the country are yet to experience improved supply of power. The recent proposed hike in tariff without constant supply of power is also worrisome. The government should have allowed the stakeholders in the sector to perform above average before increasing the tariff. Should the increment be allowed, this would pose serious hardship to Nigerians.
Corruption is a cankerworm and a thorn in the flesh of all Nigerians, and it should be dealt with.
The act of treasury looting, misappropriation, embezzlement and inflating of project funds, had eaten the economy to a standstill. However, all Nigerians should join hands together with the Federal Government to fight this menace in our homes, schools, offices, religious organisations and the society at large.
We should believe that the New Year is one of divine change and prosperous New Year. There, should be no fear of any kind due to challenges faced in 2015. God in His word in Matt 28:20, says, “…..And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Isa 41:10, He says, “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” We should all be intercessors for our leaders in general and the nation in particular so that all the promises God has promised will be fulfilled. Nigerians should have faith in God; have willing and obedient hearts so that they might eat the good of the land.
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