Having watched the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government’s sloppy response to several challenges bedevilling the nation and threatening its unity, top among which is insecurity, clerics, political elite and other stakeholders have called on the president to call time on his trance and stem the slide into anomie.
On the occasion of this year’s Easter celebration, they stressed that rather than let the nation remain at sea and allow insecurity to fester at a scale never witnessed before, the government must think out of the box for solutions, as well as procure a healing balm for a fractious nation.
Prelate of the Methodist Church Nigeria, His Eminence, Dr. Samuel Uche, specifically, called on President Buhari to brace up and arrest the ugly situation because “government would only be relevant if it is able to secure the lives and property of its citizenry.”
Uche urged the president to sit up and tighten the loose ends so that the worsening insecurity across the board would be arrested. “I know that the government has immense intelligence at its disposal and knows where these people are. So, it should not treat them with kids’ gloves; they should see them as criminals, terrorists and handle them as such,” he said.
Stressing the “urgent need to do something,” he noted that though President Buhari’s tenure would end pretty soon, his actions and inaction from now till he exits office would affect the political party that he represents. According to the Prelate: “Buhari’s failure is the failure of his party, and his success is the success of his party. If he loves his party, he should brace up and rewrite the wrong impression people have about him and his party. I am talking as a religious leader, not as a politician.”
Uche advised President Buhari to “sit up, be awake and alert to the mandate given. He should use it wisely and responsibly.”
Regarding the Easter season and what it embodies, Uche called on leaders and Nigerians to learn from Jesus Christ who showed love in all endeavours while also manifesting a very high level of servant leadership.
“Jesus cared for those He led, he was willing to make any form of sacrifice for the betterment of their lot to the extent that He was willing to die…” he noted.
For the Catholic Bishop of Oyo Diocese, Most Rev. Emmanuel Badejo, political leaders must also wake up and save the nation from complete collapse, adding that their insincerity and inaction have damaged all citizens.
In his Easter message titled, “Life Conquers Death: God Has Done His Part,” Bishop Badejo said: “All the betrayal, the rejection, oppression, the lies and wickedness of the powerful people will someday be defeated by justice and love. Light will win, darkness will fail.”
Badejo, however, urged Nigerians, especially Christians, not to lose hope amid the challenges confronting the nation while calling on leaders of the world to give up war and embrace peace.
“I say to all our governments and all leaders, your insincerity and inaction have done enormous damage to all, wake up and save Nigeria, this beautiful country and people from complete collapse. Make justice and peace to break out and save your name in history,” he said.
On his part, the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, His Grace, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, observed that, without doubt, insecurity has worsened when one considers the brazen way the so-called bandits have been operating.
He lamented the effrontery of the bandits, who recently claimed that the government knew what they wanted and unless they were given, they would continue to make the country insecure.
While expressing surprise that government and security agents allegedly know the locations and phone numbers of the said bandits, Martins declared that the Buhari-led government and security agencies have failed Nigerians.
“The government is either overwhelmed or elements within it don’t want to deal with the problem. Nigerians should be told what the bandits want. It is worrisome that Kaduna State, which has many military formations and institutions is the epicentre of recent attacks. One wonders what agenda is behind this continued assault on innocent people in homes, on the roads, and even on the rails.
“Indeed, the elections are approaching and Nigerians should not simply accept broad promises of a better life. We need to ask for the details of plans that they have to deal with the economic crisis, the problem with the infamous oil theft, the insecurity problem, and the crisis in the educational sector. We need to know how they intend to solve the problem of borrowing more money and the like. Promises should be backed up with concrete plans for fulfilling them,” he said.
The cleric noted that since Easter is a sign of hope that good will always triumph over evil, the problems currently being faced as individuals, families, and as a nation would not overwhelm us.
Martins prayed that the light of the risen Christ overwhelms the darkness of evil in the country and charged Nigerians not to lose hope, but to keep praying while striving to do everything possible to deal with the challenges.
Another revered cleric, the National President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Bishop Francis Wale Oke reechoed the concerns of many stakeholders that the current administration is overwhelmed by the security challenges across the nation. He added that the entire system is riddled with horrific corruption, hence there is hardly anything the military could do.
Oke said Nigerians would have to endure and manage the current situation till the Buhari administration exits the government. He advised, however, that the next set of leaders must be chosen wisely. “We must choose wisely those who will change the narrative, clean the mess of corruption that has permeated every fabric of our society and lead the nation in the path of righteousness, come 2023.
“Nigerians should choose politicians of proven character and integrity over moneybags who lack character. We should be unbending in our resolve, and refuse to be bought or intimidated,” he said.
The Most Rev. Emmanuel Egbunu, the Bishop of Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Lokoja Diocese, noted that there is a disconnect between promises made by the Buhari-led administration at inception and what obtains now.
He added that even though some good things have been done, the alarming rate of insecurity and the bloodshed that has filled the land cries out to God.
“Those we trusted to defend us have made us wonder if they care what happens. Daily, we hear of casualty figures – men, women, young and old, in villages, in cities, in holy places, in homes. Yet, the strong condemnation we hear is hardly matched by the firm and decisive actions. Those who speak out for the many victims are sometimes hounded down. Where blood is shed unjustly, God will call the perpetrators to account,” he said.
Egbunu tasked leaders to collectively search their conscience and see if today’s Nigeria is the Nigeria of the dream of our founding fathers or our collective yearnings.
“The most tragic is that the youth who should be our hope for a future are hounded down. Where is Leah Sharibu till now? What gave rise to the #EndSARS protest? See the IDP camps. Is this a country that we are still proud of? As church leaders, we have led our people to pray relentlessly for our leaders. But the leaders have a responsibility to lead in the fear of God,” he submitted.
State governors across the country also used the Easter occasion to congratulate Christians and Nigerians in general, while calling for prayers to help to steer the nation back to the path of peace, stability, and prosperity.
In Ekiti State, Governor Kayode Fayemi urged Christians to emulate the sacrificial lifestyle of Jesus Christ who gave his life to save mankind.
Fayemi, who congratulated Christians for the successful completion of the Lenten season, urged them to continue to intercede for the state and the country.
Stressing the essence of the season, the governor urged Christians to use the season to reflect on their individual and collective roles in promoting and sustaining that foundation of love, peace, harmony, and progress in the country.
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State also called on the people to take advantage of the historic event to advance peace, intensify prayers and commit themselves to God.
In his Easter message, Gov. Ugwuanyi applauded Christians for the successful conclusion of the 40-day long Lenten season.
In Ilorin, the Kwara State Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, congratulated the Christian community on the Easter festivities, calling it a period of reunion, self-discipline, sacrifice, forgiveness, and commitment to God.
He noted that with this year’s Easter coinciding with the Muslim Ramadan season, it is a divine sign that faithful of the two religions should exhibit oneness.
Abdulrazaq urged Nigerians to take advantage of the period to seek God’s favour for the country and to reunite against all forces of evil who seek to tear the country apart and terrorise its people with violence and economic sabotage.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State also called on Christians to pray for socio-economic and political rejuvenation of Nigeria to stem insecurity, political and economic challenges plaguing the country.
According to him, the power of the resurrection provides the opportunity for Christians to seek God for His intervention at this critical period when citizens are weighed down by unprecedented hardship.
In his message, Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku of Taraba State called for extra vigilance from citizens because of the alarming spate of kidnappings, killings, and other forms of crimes and criminality across the country.
Oyo State Governor, ‘Seyi Makinde, on his part, said that: “Easter Season has always been a moment for sober reflections; a period for Christians to re-evaluate their stand in the Lord and a moment to relive the lessons inherent in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
He noted that the lessons, ranging from love to sacrificial living and selflessness, form the very core of the Christian faith, which must always reflect in our daily lives.
“But as God would have it, He seems to be emphasising another important lesson on peaceful and harmonious co-existence, as the Easter season, again, coincides with the holy month of Ramadan. So, this is another indication that our harmonious co-existence is approved by God,” he said.
In a statement by Oguwike Nwachuku, the Chief Press Secretary/Media Adviser to Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State, the governor said: “As clearly defined by Jesus Christ, the essence of our humanity is to love God, to love one another, and be ready and willing to make sacrifices for the love of humanity. The Bible also reminds us that the best way to love God is to love humanity. This is because if we do not love our brothers and sisters whom we see every day, we definitely cannot love God whom we do not see.”
Uzodimma bemoaned the fact that 95 per cent of those who profess Jesus Christ as followers are both sponsors and actors of insecurity in Imo and the South East. He regretted that they ignored God’s fifth law that forbids the killing of fellow human beings, bemoaning the height of hypocrisy associated with those who regard themselves as Christians.
“I am using the period of Easter, which symbolises peace, brotherliness, forgiveness, reconciliation, love, and sacrifice to appeal to everyone to embrace peace for the sake of our children and their unborn children,” he said.