• CAN seeks action against poverty, others
As Christians in the country join their counterparts across the world to mark this year’s Christmas, President Muhammadu Buhari has enjoined Nigerians not to indulge in any action that negates peace, which the birth of Jesus Christ exemplifies.
In his Christmas message yesterday, Buhari said: “I felicitate with our Christian brothers and sisters in particular, and all Nigerians in general, on the joyous occasion of Christmas of the year 2019.
“As Christendom commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, I enjoin all Nigerians to imbibe and demonstrate the essence of the season of love; goodwill among all the ethnic groups in the country; giving and sharing; strengthening the bonds of brotherhood and good neighbourliness; and focusing on all that bind us together as one united country.
“I, therefore, urge our compatriots to shun all actions which negate the spirit of the season.”
According to the president, celebrating the spirit and virtues of Christmas needs not be a one-day affair, but rather, ought to continue into the New Year.
“It is in line with the spirit of Christmas that I call on all elements whose actions are opposed to what the season represents, especially, insurgents, terrorists, armed robbers, kidnappers and economic saboteurs, to retrace their steps and join people of goodwill and common humanity.
“If they fail to heed this call, they will meet their end as the armed forces, security and law-enforcement agencies are poised now to confront and defeat them.”
President Buhari admonished Nigerians to make extra efforts to live in peace and harmony with their neighbours, irrespective of differences.
“While it is gladdening to note that incidents of violence and conflicts have reduced drastically owing to the several operations embarked on by our security agencies, we must not let our guard down.
“As Christmas indicates good tidings of hope and redemption, Nigerians can look forward to a turnaround in the administration’s priority areas of fighting corruption, providing security, economic diversification, job creation and infrastructure upgrade.
“Having recently signed the 2020 Appropriation Bill into Law, I reiterate my promise during the presentation of the budget proposals before the National Assembly on October 8, 2019 that, ‘We remain resolutely committed to the actualisation of our vision of a bright and prosperous future for all Nigerians.”
Buhari, who lauded the National Assembly for the speedy passage of the budget, restated his promise to rigorously implement it to further deepen its impact on the generality of Nigerians.
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, in a statement he personally signed, said: “Christians and Nigerians in general must not forget the essence of the season, which is a reminder of the birth of Jesus Christ and the ideals for which he lived.
“The birth of Jesus Christ is a great example of humility. He lived and preached peace, love, tolerance and self-sacrifice, and left mankind with the hope of eternal joy.
“These virtues transcend religion and deserve to be embraced by all Nigerians especially as we go through the challenges of nation-building and development.”
According to him, in the spirit of the season, Nigerians and the government must remember the weak and the most vulnerable in their midst. “We should do the best we can to bring them succour and help them to also feel the joy of the season.”
His Deputy, Ovie Omo-Agege, who stressed the need for unity, called on Nigerians to be their brothers’ keepers. In his Christmas message yesterday, Omo-Agege urged Nigerians to imbibe the lessons of Christmas by reaching out to the less privileged in the society.
The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, advised Nigerians to love one another no matter the faith, saying that Jesus teaching on love is universal, for all peoples.
He said Christians should use the season as an opportunity for all, to be thankful for God’s blessings and to ask for His help that the light of progress and good may forever shine upon, and sustain the nation.
Tinubu, in a statement by his media office, said: “While celebrating this holy day, all of us, whether Christian or of another faith, must also devote this time to reflect on the lessons of peace, truth, kindness and compassion that described the life and teachings of Jesus.
“He loved and gave his life to better and save mankind. No matter the faith one may profess, what Jesus taught is universal, for all peoples and for all times. To follow him is to seek the best of our humanity.”
According to him, Nigerians should use the season to extend hands of help to those who are poor, weak so that they won’t be left behind.
President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Samson Ayokunle, urged Christians not to engage in any crime in order to celebrate the Christmas and appealed to Nigerians to “look up to God and you will not be disappointed.”
He called on government at all levels to look for ways of cushioning the effects of the economic hardship in the country.
In a statement yesterday in Abuja, Ayokunle, who described Christmas as a season of joy and happiness, when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, lamented that “things are pretty difficult as people are experiencing lean times, untold hardship in many countries, including Nigeria.”
The CAN President who prayed for divine provision for families, observed that the present challenges will be the springboard for our full joy of Christmas.
“It is a passing phase and very soon, the God who ended the unprecedented economic depression in Samaria will surely give us victory over our challenges,” he prayed.