Fred Ezeh, Abuja and Gyang Bere, Jos
Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, admitted that Nigeria could be heading for disintegration, if urgent action was not taken, collectively, to mend or address the identified cracks.
Osinbajo said though the task of mending the cracks could face severe opposition, it could only be achieved and diffused by consistent focus and prayers by Nigerians who desire more peaceful and prosperous Nigeria.
The VP, who spoke through the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, at the 60th independence anniversary interdenominational church service at the National Ecumenical Centre, Abuja, made reference to the story of Nehemiah in the Bible, and his role in rebuilding the broken down walls of Jerusalem.
He encouraged Nigerians to study the story of Nehemiah and replicate it in Nigeria for a better country.
“The story should be a challenge to every Christian in Nigeria who is desirous of following the part of Christian way of life.
“It’s only that kind of Nehemiah’s love that will make us as Nigerians to rebuild the cracks we have in our walls (Nigeria) today. For us in Nigeria, Nehemiah should be taken as a metaphor for that Nigerians who either reside in Nigeria or outside, to cry to God to use the abandoned opportunities in Nigeria to address our challenges of nation-building.
“Fortunately for us, our walls are not yet broken but there are obvious cracks that could lead to break if not properly addressed. Nehemiah started with fervent prayers, seeking the face of God and pleaded with his king to allow him return to Jerusalem to rebuild the broken walls. Because wall signifies peace, security, contentment and prosperity. It signifies the essence of the state of the nation.
“There’s urgent need for Nehemiah in our country, Nigeria, today. And like Nehemiah faced opposition in his efforts to rebuild the walls, any Nigerian that desires to rebuild Nigeria must also be ready to face stiffer opposition which will come in torrents. It can only be diffused by consistent focus and prayers.”
Osinbajo was, however, optimistic that the 60th independence anniversary could herald a rebirth of Nigerian nation, and “no group is more prepared for this task than our religious bodies.”
He, thus charged the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to provide quality leadership to its faithful and properly guide them in making Nigeria a great country that it has been destined to be.
CAN President, Dr. Samson Ayokunle, in a sermon stressed the need for justice which, he said, will birth peace, tolerance and love.
“A nation that is religiously plural like ours require love in practice so as to co-exist without fighting one another. What is sane in using the name of God or hide under the cloak of religion to kill a fellow human? If God wants all of us to be of one ethnicity, race or religion doesn’t he have the power to do it? Why do we want to play God and wickedly terminate the lives of others in account of religion?.
“Nigeria is blessed with abundant human and material resources located in different parts of this country. This underscores the indispensability of all the regions and ethnic groups.
“For us all to be on the same page, have sense of belonging and be happy, the doctrine of equality, that is equal access to employment, governance and education, must be available to all. The principle of inclusivity must be adopted. Nobody or region must be excluded from the scheme of things in Nigeria.
“We must not allow exclusion in any form to manifest in our national life because that would be dangerous for our pilgrimage or voyage together. All ethnic and religious groups must be given equal opportunity in the way we do things, otherwise, why should I remain where I was not recognised or where I was cheated? Will I not rather go on my own way?
“Why should I be denied access to build my place of worship in any region of the country by government official? Why should my child be denied the opportunity to study any particular course in any university after he or she has passed the required examination on account of the child’s religion or ethnicity? Ethnicity is ascribed, it is divinely conferred, not achieved by the individual.
“We must know that there’s mutual suspicion of one another in Nigeria, either along ethnic or religious lines. We have refused to do many things we agreed to do at dialogue tables because of lack of love and suspicion. We need to do away with lack of trust in order to build a great nation.”
We’ll rise above current challenges -Lalong
Governor Simon Bako Lalong of Plateau State said Nigeria will rise above its current challenges to fulfill its divine mandate as the largest black nation in the world.
Lalong disclosed this during a church service at the St. Monica Catholic Church, Rantya, Jos Plateau State, yesterday.
He said Nigeria has made giant strides over the last 60 years in various areas including education, health, science and technology, agriculture, infrastructure and democracy.
While acknowledging that the nation still faced other challenges related to security, good governance, unity and corruption, Lalong said Nigerians must be united to resolve the issues in order to make room for development.
“The responsibility of making Nigeria great belongs to all of us that dwell in it. It is our country and we have no other. While we hold accountable those in public offices, whether elected or appointed who have been given the assignment of leadership to be accountable, fair, just and proactive, we cannot fail to support them. Failure to support them because of differences of religion, ethnicity, politics and other affiliations will keep all of us running in circles and down”.
In his homily, Msgnr. Prof. Cletus Gotan, citing Ezekiel 18:25-28 and Philipians 2:1-11 among other scriptures said Nigeria is a great country blessed in all aspects but has been held down by greed, political maladministration, corruption, poverty and insecurity.
He said Nigeria was in need of a Nehemiah who will galvanise positive action for emancipation of the nation to a direction where justice, equity, fairness, righteousness and tolerance will take precedence over parochial considerations which appear to have been given prominence in governance.
Chairman of CAN, Rev. Fr. Polycap Lubo said the church on the Plateau will continue to pray for the peace and progress of Nigeria as well as Plateau State.