Clerics’ impressions of 2016 and prayers for next year
• ‘We Should Intensify More Of Prayers In The Coming Months Because The Situation Still Demands By Its Merit A More Fervent And Passionate Prayer’
• ‘We Are Still Blessed With Abundant Human And Natural Resources, Let God Give Us The Wisdom Of Harnessing Them In 2017 To Avoid Harder Times’
• ‘If Our Leaders Can Embrace Righteousness, Have Compassion And Empathy For Those They Are Leading, There Would Be Relative Peace’
• ‘God Who Intervened In The Situation Of Samaria Will Intervene For Us In Nigeria’
Few days from now the ‘nightmare’ of 2016 will dissipate and give way for 2017 to unveil itself. No doubt, the outgoing year has been described by many as most challenging and as they pray and hope for a new dawn with better prospects in 2017, what then are the impressions of religious leaders concerning 2016, as well as their prayers and expectations for 2017. CHRIS IREKAMBA and ISAAC TAIWO report.
‘We Need Greater Faith For A Glorious Dawn’
(Dr. Samson Olasupo .A. Ayokunle, CAN President and Nigerian Baptist Convention President)
WITHOUT mincing words, Nigerians had faced the most economically challenging time in 2016. There was no year in our history that naira was so devalued and prices went spiral as this year. Foreign currencies were difficult to procure for international trade and travels, workers could not receive many months’ salaries and mass unemployment continues to increase. This year was the year in which Nigerians expected to be reaping dividends of democracy in terms of government’s policies’ positive impact on the generality of the people. We thought that government would have used the first seven months of their four-year term to settle down in office and consolidate, thereby moving the nation forward. From the early economic policies they took, in my opinion, they faltered. We are not unaware of the injury inflicted on our economy by past governments through corruption and prodigality. It was that awareness that made the majority of Nigerians to vote in this government to bring back the nation on the right track. This government needs to work harder, listen more, be less partisan on the issues of team building and policy assessment in order to bring the nation back to the right track. Having on board tested economic gurus and the humility to seek the face of God for right guidance are very crucial to the success of this administration. Things are really difficult for people. The demons (if they are) holding our leaders from taking the right decisions in giving us uninterrupted electricity are still at work.
It is a shame that most of our roads are still death traps. If you do not dig borehole or well, you will not drink because Federal and State governments are not making such provision available for people. Religious and ethnic killings and wanton destruction of lives and properties are still going on without perpetrators being apprehended.
I am aware that all these problems this government inherited cannot be solved overnight. Nigerians need patience with government. We need to encourage those in government and be praying for them. In their right actions, things would be better for us all. Let me encourage Nigerians never to loose hope. Our hope and breakthrough are not in government as such, but in God who rules in the affairs of men. In the Book of Matthew 1:18-25, it first appeared that the worst happened to Joseph when Mary was found pregnant. It was a great let down for Joseph from a woman he loved all his life and had the hope of marrying soon. With the disappointment, Joseph still summoned courage to get going by putting the woman away quietly and plan further on how to pick up the pieces of his life remaining and keep going. We all need that type of courage to keep going. We need greater faith in God. Faith in God has been sustaining us in Nigeria and will continue to sustain us more and more. The Lord who intervened in the situation of Samaria and turned scarcity to plenty will intervene for us in Nigeria. We had partaken of the hardship in Nigeria, we would all experience the glorious dawn of the country in the name of Jesus.
‘Govt Should Make Security A Major Priority And Provide Food For Nigerians’
(His Eminence, Dr. Samuel Chukwuemeka Kanu Uche, Prelate, Methodist Church Nigeria)
I BELIEVE the first thing is to thank God for the outgoing year for the privileges and enabling grace to overcome all the challenges of the year. Things were not easy in the year, but we have every cause to thank God for His goodness and His grace to weather the storms in the year 2016.
The year 2017 will be a better year if we all seek the face of God. Many churches have declared fasting and prayer for God to control our national affairs. If our leaders can embrace righteousness, have compassion and empathy for those they are leading, there would be relative peace.
The government should make security one of its major priorities and put food on the table of Nigerians. It should be noted that insurgences and hostilities we are experiencing are caused by hunger. People who are hungry would be angry.
Nigerians are expecting food on their tables, relative peace that would enable everybody to go about his or her business.
We are expecting next year to be a year of tolerance, devoid of religious fanaticism because God is not God of violence.
Government should be very much interested in the welfare of Nigerians, every Nigerian should have absolute faith in God, live above self so that we would have egalitarian society and if these can be achieved, we would have less problem next year than we have now.
I would also expect religious and traditional institutions to seek for peace in the country.
‘Let Govt Deal With Insecurity In The Land’
(His Grace, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, Catholic Archbishop of Lagos)
THE Bible says that in all things, we must give thanks. We thank God for overcoming the vicissitudes of the passing year. Without exaggeration, the year 2016 was full of ups and downs for many Nigerians, with so many contending with the recession. It is a year that has been very difficult for Nigerians due to the state of the economy. There was hardship in the land.
Many parents went through the trauma of changing schools for their children because of inability to meet up with school fees. Many Nigerians lost their jobs. In all things, we thank God who would always make a way, where there is no way for His own.
My prayer for the coming year is that those who do not have jobs would have means of taking care of their needs. Those who do not have accommodation would have shelter over their heads. Good health for the sick and that our government would be able to provide better facilities for Nigerians in this regard. My prayer is that God will prosper the children to fulfill their days and the dreams of their parents for them. God would help our leaders to do things that would enhance better life for Nigerians.
I would expect the economy to pick up as the government takes the right decision that would lead to boosting the economy. I would also expect that Nigerians would contribute to the government’s effort to bring solution to the present impasse and move the nation forward.
We would expect the government to bring a lasting solution to the problems of Fulani herdsmen. We heard of another mayhem at the Southern part of Kaduna where people were killed, houses raised and would expect that the government would have taken the right action. Government’s insensitivity is leaving a bad impression on the minds of Nigerians who kept on wondering why the Federal government is not prompt in taking necessary action to curb the excesses of Fulani herdsmen.
We believe firmly that God is on the throne and that nothing happens without His knowledge, while at the same time telling our leaders that we expect a lot more from them this coming year.
‘Entrepreneurs Should Be Encouraged To Invest In Agriculture And Its Allied Industries’
(Dr. Cosmas Ilechukwu, General Overseer, Charismatic Renewal Ministries, Worldwide)
THE undergirding motif of all divine action is His unsullied love for humankind. Whether in the blazing sun of abundance or in the gloomy shadows of lack, God is working for the very best interest of people. He allows us to go through the harrowing experience of darkness so that we will better appreciate the exhilarating essence of light. 2016 is a year of pruning, in the sense that the harsh economic reality, which was wide-spread among the populace forced us to lop most of the debilitating superfluities that have been part of our lives. Nigerians came to realise how little we actually need to live and be happy. We were compelled to make necessary adjustments that would ultimately be for our good if we continue to accommodate those changes as our regular lifestyles. The economic down-turn censured our culture of unsustainable conviviality, which is evident in our predilection towards expensive feastings and celebrations with their concomitant negative economic consequences, and compelled us to consider prudence as a more reasonable alternative. This tweak is good for Nigerians and ultimately for Nigeria. In my assessment, 2016 has been a good year, especially for those of us who were amenable to the disciplines of the Lord it brought our ways.
The purpose of pruning is for enhanced fruitfulness, which presupposes enhanced productivity. Our Lord teaches that God “prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more” (John 15:2 NLT). If 2016 was our year of pruning, 2017 will certainly be our year of unceasing fruitfulness. But fruitfulness does not just happen. It is always a consequence of intelligent efforts aimed at achieving clear-cut goals. To do this would require a new economic culture – from consumerism to productivity. Productivity is the precursor of wealth. Our governments must find creative ways to put Nigerians back to work because no nation can ever be richer than the productivity quotient of her economy. It is becoming more and more obvious to Nigerians that the idea of easy money is delusory at best. 2017 will usher in a new season of creative enterprise among the Nigerian youths. Entrepreneurs should be encouraged to invest in agriculture and its allied industries as that offers the widest possibility for employment and prosperity for our people. I pray that in the New Year Nigeria will rediscover the dignity in productive labour and embrace it as a way of showcasing the image and likeness of God in them.
‘We Should Revert To Prayers For The Nation And Government’
(Pastor Lazarus Muoka, General Overseer, The Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Revival Ministries, Worldwide)
IT is a common knowledge that we all witnessed a downturn of economic activities and political maneuvering this year. But the good thing is that it brought many closer to God. Of course, recession is a sign of an end-time, therefore, we should not expect it would abate if Christ tarries. Nigerians should stop complaining about hardship. Although it is unfortunate that it came, but we should revert to prayers for the nation and government. Since circumstance of events have brought recession and its accompanying stress to bear upon us, our only option now is to call, pray and supplicate to the Almighty God to intervene in our plight and give answer to our prayers. We should intensify more of prayers in the coming months because the situation still demands by its merit a more fervent and passionate prayer. We should not faint nor murmur for He is not displeased with us for being earnest as men commonly are because He bids us to cry after Him and give Him no rest when in distress.
Jer. 29:12-14 says, “Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.”
The people of the Bible wonderfully prevailed upon God through prayers and obtained answers to the problems. So, no matter our condition, situation or bondage, the same God that answered Abraham, Moses, Hannah, David and the Apostles of old is still alive to answer and deliver us. We need to rely on God who will give us breakthrough in a situation like this for God is able to sustain His people. We must understand that if we neglect our duties in prayers the situation will deteriorate, but with prayers God will intervene in the affairs of the country and direct things by Himself.
‘I Pray That God Shall Give The Leadership Special Wisdom To Handle 2017’
(Dr. Chidi Okoroafor, General Superintendent Assemblies of God Nigeria)
2016 has been an unusual year for Nigerians battling with both economic downturn and security uncertainties. The citizens faced unprecedented hardship. I thank God that we are able to survive it. It’s all about the Grace of God. Nigerians by God’s grace are patient compared with other nations who would have gone riotous at this kind of economic provocation. We are a blessed country. As we end the year, we should thank God for surviving 2016 and specifically pray for divine intervention for the coming Year 2017.
We need divine intervention. I pray that God shall give the leadership a special wisdom on how to handle 2017. Wisdom has no residential address. Our situation demands something beyond intra party affair. It’s our nation and the future is at stake. To rebuild our nation, Nigeria, it requires joint efforts no matter our individual political, ethnic and religious inclinations. We are still blessed with abundant human and natural resources. Let God give us the wisdom of harnessing them in 2017 to avoid harder times.
‘We Must Learn To Pray For The Leaders More Than We Criticise Them’
(The Rt. Rev. (Dr.) Isaac C. Nwaobia, Diocesan Bishop Isiala Ngwa South, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Abia State)
WE sincerely appreciate the Almighty God for His goodness, mercy and grace He has shown us in Christ Jesus. The year 2016 that is ending had the foundation of the earth shaken politically, economically, materially, religiously, and spiritually, at a stage the hearts of men began to fail them, the world system became relatively unpredictable leaving us with so many surprises. But in all these things we are more than conquerors through Christ that loved us and paid the price for our sin and redemption.
As we welcome everyone to the year 2017, we see it as a year of pressing forward. It is a year of pressing forward because it is a year we must press forward to build for God in all areas of Christian faith, especially as we see the coming of Christ drawing near, we must press forward spiritually in all of our assignments, in our nation building we must press forward in our relationship with God, we must be committed and strive to break the limits set by our doubts, unbelief, fear, carelessness, procrastination, worldliness, presumptuousness, and godlessness.
If we must go far in the New Year our resolve must be absolute, firm and God-ward, our focus must be God, we must look more on God than on man, we must hold on to those virtues that distinguishes the child of God from the rest of the world.
As a nation we must learn to pray for the leaders more than we criticise them, God has a plan for this nation and for our individual lives, and our ability to discover God’s master plan will open the passage to recovering all we may have lost as individuals and as a nation. The politicians should endeavour to fulfill their electoral promises. The leaders on their own must be humble enough to make amends, remember their unfulfilled campaign promises and carry them out knowing that posterity will judge every deed of man. In our quest and desire we must do well not to leave our families behind, hence young lives have become the target of the devil and his agents.
Faithful is He that has called us, surely there will be life battles in this coming year, but God has promised us victory. There will be temptations as it has always been, but as we trust God for His faithfulness to escape all the darts of the evil one.
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