Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Cardinal John Onaiyekan has warned that Nigeria is dancing on the brink of chaos’, noting that the handwriting on the wall is clear for all who care to see.
For Nigeria to recover from its current social-economic crises, he challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to change the leadership habit of his government as he begins a new administration.
He spoke at the 2019 Presidential Inauguration Inter-Denominational Church Service with the theme: “Setting the nation on higher levels of peace and development in the fear of God.”
This is even as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo tasked Christians to take the lead in giving hope to others. He expressed confidence that the nation’s future is bright.
“Our days will be better and better. This is the reason why I am so confident, our ministry is that of reconciliation. We must not permit anyone to take advantage of the fault lines. Our country stands at the threshold of phenomenal great, the end of the story light and joy. We begin with darkness and confusion but the end of our story is bright, the future of our nation is bright.”
But Onaiyekan maintained that the nation is not in a state for us to rejoice, noting that the ranks of the poor were swelling by the day.
“Such wide socio-economic disparity has led to anger, tension, violence and outright criminality in the land. All is not well.”
In his sermon, titled “Let us choose life not death” taken from Deuteronomy 30:19, the Cardinal said: “This is no time for celebration of victory or for lamentation over defeat. Rather, it is time to pull efforts together, with the grace of God, to tackle the serious challenges before us.
“At this moment, we would do well to acknowledge our failure to do things in the right way. Here, the words of the psalmist should challenge each of us: ‘If you. Oh Lord. should mark our guilt, who would survive?’ The blame game of pointing accusing fingers at others will not carry us far. For a positive change to take place, we must all be ready for a sincere change of heart, from the lowest to the highest, but especially at the highest levels. Empty boasts and bare-face denial of the realities around us cannot build a nation.
“We are in the house of God, and before God we must tell the truth. The Lord Jesus has told us that ‘the truth will make us free.’ The truth is that our nation is not in a state for us to rejoice. The ranks of the poor are swelling by the day, hopeless and helpless, as they watch in frustration the affluence of the very few cruising in a different world. Such wide socio-economic disparity has led to anger, tension, violence and outright criminality in the land. All is not well.
“But all is not lost either. As we embrace a new term of government, it should be for us a new opportunity to change ways and review habits of governance, for a better Nigeria. We can and we should do this. God has endowed us with adequate resources to achieve this, resources that we unfortunately turn into crises and problems. Ethnicity and religion are two cases in point.
“The cleric admonished that, ‘Our ethnic diversity is God’s will and gift that we ought to appreciate and celebrate. We should beware of those who seek to manipulate this in a game of divide and rule, for selfish interests. In our emerging global world, we should be building on our long experience of living together across ethnic lines, if we are not to allow ourselves to be left behind in our fast developing modern world.”
Onaiyekan admonished that as the new term of office begins, it is important for the leaders to note that many have already lost hope.
He said: “In this new term of office, there is need for a drastic change of government system, if our nation is to be saved from imminent chaos. The sad fact is that many have already lost all hope in the future of this nation. According to them, we are to get ready for the worst. Frightful conspiracy theories are making the rounds in the social media, shaping and twisting the attitudes and minds of many people. In this situation, the serious warnings from well-intentioned wise elders should not be ignored, less still denigrated without due respect.
“There are, we hope, many more people who still believe in our ability to build a united nation under God, and thus to realise the dream of our constitution. Doing nothing but complaining and pointing accusing fingers at others is to wait for the worst to happen. The positve and responsible option is to stand up to be counted and get involved in building the nation of our dreams. The Lord has put before us a choice between death and life. He urges us to choose life, for our own good and for His greater glory.”
Former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon urged Nigerians to pray for President Buhari and all the leaders so that they will give good governance and look after the interest of all Nigerians, irrespective of tribe, faith or believe.