By Lukman Olabiyi, Lagos
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has called for caution among faith leaders and opinion moulders against reckless utterances that may further aggravate the internal security crises in country.
Sanwo-Olu said the nature of the crises required all notable leaders of men to refrain from making incendiary comments that could stoke divisions and violence, stressing that a crisis in Nigeria would be catastrophic for Africa.
The governor made the admonition at the 2021 Lagos State Interdenominational Divine Service (IDDS) held by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) at The Apostolic Church in Ketu.
At the event with the theme: “A New Beginning, A New Dawn and A New Glory”, Governor Sanwo-Olu was installed as the Grand Patron of the Christian body the state.
Sanwo-Olu noted that the nation had faced a difficult period in the past year following an economic downturn occasioned by the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and paralysing nationwide youth protests. Lagos, he said, became the epicentre of the crises, which kept the Government on its toes.
He said religious leaders must use their pulpits to preach peace and discourage war. The governor said it was time for citizens to come together and give Nigeria the new beginning it deserved in surmounting the contemporary challenges the nation is facing.
‘It is time for sober reflection that must bring a new beginning for our nation. We have all witnessed the challenges of our country, but we need to be careful not to turn the observed crises into an ethnic or religious war. We need to guide against utterances that may stereotype anyone or their tribe. We have a duty to isolate criminals in our communities, rather than introducing tribal spin into every crime,’ he said.
‘Nigeria is the largest country in Africa. Where will we go to? That’s why I said we need a new beginning and there are no other people that can help us lower the temperature and calm the frayed nerves than our religious leaders whose voices are well respected. As a nation, we have several battles to fight but we must refrain from adding political instability to the issues.”
Sanwo-Olu said the crises bedevilling the country required collective action from every segment of the country towards proffering solution.
Despite the COVID-19 crisis and destruction that trailed the #EndSARS protest last year, Sanwo-Olu said Lagos had weathered the crisis with a strong determination to sustain the progress it recorded.
The governor thanked religious groups across the state for sustaining Lagos with prayers, hailing CAN for its spiritual support for his administration.
‘As a Government, we will continue to play our part and deliver projects that are critical to the socio-economic wellbeing of the people. The duty of CAN and our church leaders is to continue to support with prayers and populate messages that promote unity within our communities and state,’ he said.
The South-West leader of CAN, Very Reverend Father Raphael Osegboun, decorated Sanwo-Olu as Grand Patron of the Lagos chapter of the association. The appointment, he said, is based on the Christian body’s resolve to naturally fill the position with any sitting governor of Christian faith.
Senator Oluremi Tinubu (APC – Lagos Central) was named the Matron of the association, while Reverend Mother Esther Ajayi appointed as Grand Matron.
The Chief of Staff, Mr Tayo Ayinde, took the first Bible reading from the Book of Genesis 1 Vs 1-6, which reminded believers how God created the earth and the heaven with the commandment of His words.
The National President of CAN, Rev Samson Ayokunle, inducted new members of the executive into the state’s chapter of CAN, led by Rt Reverend Stephen Adegbite.
Other awardees are Senator representing Lagos West, Solomon Adeola, and Sir Olu Okeowo.
All members of the state’s cabinet accompanied the governor to the event.