By Enyeribe Ejiogu, Cosmas Omegoh, Gilbert Ekezie (Lagos), John Adams (Minna), Layi Olanrewaju (Ilorin), Paul Osuyi (Asaba), Ndubuisi Orji (Abuja), Priscilla Ediare (Ado-Ekiti), Tony John (Port Harcourt), Noah Ebije (Kaduna).
In the face of the insecurity and myriad of other challenges confronting the country, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former Governor Peter Obi, incumbent governors and religious leaders have urged Nigerians not to relent in praying for divine intervention of the Almighty, to reverse the deteriorating situation of the nation.
Atiku Abubakar, Turaki Adamawa, in a message by his media office, called on all Nigerians “to take time to pray first of all for peace to return to the country and also for unity,” noting that “Nigeria is at the precipice of insecurity, poverty and, most unfortunately, disunity.”
While acknowledging that the challenges are not impediments, Atiku said: “The way to surmount these challenges is to learn from the world when superpower countries who are rivals suspended politics to face a common threat in COVID-19.”
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, urged Nigerians, to use the period of Easter to pray for the country.
Gbajabiamila, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, said despite the challenges confronting the country, there is still light at the end of the tunnel.
“At this time of Easter, we have to unite as a people. We have to pray for our country. We should also be our brothers’ keepers as always. I am certain that together as a people, we will achieve more. Our unity is ultimately our strength,” he said.
In the same vein, Mr Peter Obi, urged Nigerians to pray continually and work towards peace, stability and progress, even as the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, called on the country’s leadership at all levels to be more proactive and sincere in tackling the numerous challenges plaguing the nation such as insecurity, endemic corruption, economic woes, ethnic agitations, worsening unemployment, amongst several others.
“The government’s failure to urgently address these problems is capable of plunging the entire nation in the path of disintegration,” Martins noted in a statement by the Director, Social Communications, Rev Fr Anthony Godonu, Martins, of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos.
Bayelsa State governor, Senator Douye Diri, in his message to Bayelsans implored them to embrace the virtues of sacrifice, love and hope that the Easter season typifies.
Governor Diri urged them not to despair due to the challenges of the times, and assured that his administration would continue to be people-focused in its policies and projects.
“Let us imbibe these virtues and consistently manifest them in our social relationships to create a harmonious society, the kind of social atmosphere that could bring out the best in a purpose-driven government as we have in the state today,” Diri said.
On his part, Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, urged Nigerians to see the Easter commemoration as “another great opportunity to re-awaken the dying fervour of personal and collective sacrifice and to unite against a common enemy.”
Enugu State governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, counseled Nigerians to advance peace and commit themselves to God, in faith and in practice, stressing that Christ’s resurrection offers Nigerians a great opportunity to come closer to God and promote all virtues that would enhance peace, love, unity and progress of the country.
Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State also advocated the need for Christians to be prepared to make sacrifices for the good of their neighbours and larger society.
In an Easter message, signed by the his Chief Press Secretary and Media Adviser, Oguwike Nwachuku, Governor Uzodimma said: “Let the lessons of Easter teach us to be more tolerant, accommodating and compassionate in our relationship with one another.”
Governor Uzodimma urged Imo people to rededicate their lives to the service of others and resolve to shun rumour mongering as well as spreading of falsehood against the government.
Niger State governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, in statement by his Special Adviser on Politics and Strategy, Alhaji Nma Kolo, enjoined Christians to “use the occasion of the Easter celebration to pray against the security challenges bedeviling the state,” stressing that the “current security situation in the state called for serious prayers.”
While congratulating Christians on the occasion of the Easter celebrations, Kwara State governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, said that it was an auspicious moment for Kwarans and other Nigerians to “renew hope, embrace one another and purposefully forge ahead with unity in diversity.”
Sounding the same upbeat note, Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, in statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Olisa Ifeajika, said Christians should use the Easter period to pray for the state and country as insecurity and other socio-political inadequacies threaten the nation’s stability.
Similarly, Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, urged Nigerians to be their brothers’ keepers and to forgive others.
Also, an inter-denominational group, Christian Conscience, admonished all political and religious leaders in the country to allow Jesus Christ, to intervene in the affairs of the nation.
In a release by its Publicity Secretary, Mr Tunji Oguntuase, the group advised the leaders to emulate Christ, who is an embodiment of love and peace, adding that until these virtues are emulated, Nigerian leaders would continue to depend on their own strength rather than allowing Christ to lead them aright.
Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, appealed to all citizens in the state to embrace common humanity and uphold obligations for peace and harmony in their respective communities, and advised the citizens to isolate and expose the criminals “while we all do our utmost best to ensure that our diverse communities live in peace and resolve differences peacefully.”
In a joint message, members of the Minority Caucus of the House of Representatives, urged Nigerians to seek God’s intervention in the security challenges bedeviling the country.
The caucus in a statement, by the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, stated that Easter, which marks the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the death, “amply demonstrates that no matter how hopeless a situation appears to be, solution is always found in God’s love and infinite power to save.”
The opposition lawmakers implored those behind the acts of terrorism and bloodletting in the country to retrace their steps, as and their actions cannot be justified under any guise.
On its part, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) enjoined Christians across the nation to be more vigilant and prayerful before, during and after the Easter celebrations, even as it expressed concern over the deplorable security situation of the country and tasked the Federal Government to evolve a security mechanism that will further ensure the protection of lives and property of Nigerians, particularly Christians in the northern part of the country.
President of the PFN, Bishop Francis Wale Oke, who made the call in a statement by his Media Office, said it had become imperative for the government to direct its arsenal towards stemming the increasing cases of killings, raping, kidnapping and insurgency, among others, in the country.
Oke who is also the presiding Bishop of The Sword of the Spirit Ministries and the proprietor of the Precious Cornerstone University (PCU), Ibadan, lamented that it was disheartening to see the level of degeneration of Nigeria’s security situation.
“Security concerns should be everybody’s business and that’s why we must all be vigilant and prayerful. Enough of this bloodshed in our country; Nigeria shall be delivered from the grip of the evil ones,” Bishop Oke said.
Speaking at a special Easter programme, the General Overseer of The Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Revival Movement, Pastor Lazarus Muoka, reminded Nigerians that Christ’s victory over death saved mankind from hopelessness and misery, noting that Easter also “brings the optimism that no matter how difficult or challenging a situation may be, having knowledge of the resurrection, will remind one that if Jesus could defeat death, then all things are possible.”
Ekiti State deputy governor, Otunba Bisi Egbeyemi, while felicitating with Christians in the state, in a message signed by his Special Assistant (Media), Odunayo Ogunmola, enjoined the people of the state irrespective of their religious affiliations to live together in peace and harmony and expressed optimism that better days are ahead.
Meanwhile, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), has assured people living in Rivers State, that there would be uninterrupted supply of fuel during the Easter period.
State Executive Chairman of IPMAN, Joseph Obele, disclosed this in Port Harcourt, yesterday, saying that he had approached the management of Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), Abuja, for steady supply of fuel in Rivers during the Easter celebration and after. He dismissed the rumour of price increase and scarcity during Easter as fake news and urged them not to embark on panic buying as it might cause fire outbreaks.