Tobi Soniyi, Omololu Ogunmade and Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has called on all Nigerians to pray for divine guidance to get over current challenges.
In his Christmas message to Nigerians, the president said, “There is no better time than now in our nation’s history to pray for divine guidance to get over our current challenges.”
He said the immediate priority of his government was to alleviate the poverty of Nigerians by quickly stimulating the economy.
“I assure Nigerians that our government is doing its best to make life easier for all,” he added.
While rejoicing with Christians on the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, Buhari said it was appropriate to reflect on the love of God aptly espoused in the teachings and lifestyle of Jesus Christ.
He recalled that during his earthly sojourn, Jesus Christ repeatedly reminded his disciples and followers of peace that comes in the midst of trials and tribulations on earth.
He said: “We can have peace in Nigeria if we all learn to tolerate and appreciate one another, respect constituted authority; and be our brothers’ keepers in word and deed.”
The president beseeched Nigerians to remember to offer special prayers to God for all heroic citizens who paid the supreme price to restore peace and security in the North East and other flash points in the country.
“Let us also remember in our prayers the security forces in the frontline in the continuing battle to rid our nation of terrorism and violence,” he urged.
He further urged Nigerians not to forget the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in their midst and those who had suffered untold hardship as a result of activities of insurgents and terrorists.
In their own messages, Senate President Bukola Saraki, his predecessor, Senator David Mark and Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, called for rededication, religious harmony and expression of true love in accordance with the teachings of Jesus Christ which they said emphasised selflessness, piety, brotherly kindness and love towards one another.
Saraki, according to a statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, said the Eight Senate would ensure the country regains her pride in the comity of nations through the enactment of relevant and timely legislations. He said the nation would get out of the woods when the citizenry imbibes the teachings and doctrine of Christ.
“This is the season of love and forgiveness. It should not be seen only as a merrymaking period but as a time to pray fervently for a peaceful and prosperous nation. As a nation, we have passed through a series of challenges but the fact remains that we can only surmount our economic crisis if we stay united, extend hands of fellowship to one another and be law abiding.
“We must also rededicate ourselves to the ennobling virtues of faith in God, love for one another, honesty and peaceful coexistence. It is time to make these virtues more evident and practical in our daily lives,” Saraki stated.
In his goodwill message signed by his Media Assistant, Mr. Paul Mumeh, Mark harped on religious harmony, peace and unity as necessary ingredients for development as he appealed to religious leaders to preach the message of peace, unity and good neighbourliness to make the society a better and safer place for all.
He also appealed to Christians to imbibe the teachings of Jesus Christ particularly sacrifice, love, prayer and forgiveness. He urged Christians not to allow the central message of sacrifice, forgiveness and love to be lost in the euphoria of merriment, pointing out that more than ever before, Nigeria needs prayer and perseverance to overcome the current socio-economic challenges.
In the same vein, Ekweremadu in a statement by his Special Adviser, Media, Uche Anichukwu, urged Nigerians to show love to their neighbours at Christmas, saying doing so is the fundamental message of the Yuletide. He said without the expression of love, Christmas would be empty as he observed that love was part and parcel of African culture.
“The spirit of sharing is an African tradition that generates happiness and ensures social stability in the absence of a formal social security mechanism that caters for the less privileged in our society.
“I grew up in a system that had an inbuilt social security mechanism where we were our brothers’ keepers and cared for one another. If you didn’t have a tuber of yam, you shared from your neighbour’s; and you could go to your neighbour’s house to get fire and light your house; and when somebody got admission to study at the university, people contributed money to ensure the person got education. One person’s problem was everybody’s problem in those days. And that is exactly the tradition we are trying to keep alive,” he said.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara in a statement issued by his spokesman Mr. Turaki Hassan urged Christians to emulate the life of Christ, who exemplified love and peace.
He added that the growth and stability of the nation would be guaranteed if Nigerians imbibe the virtues of love, unity, sacrifice and peaceful coexistence.
Dogara admonished Christians to use this period as one for sober reflection on the acute challenges facing the nation and to see how they could apply the virtues of Jesus Christ in fashioning out workable measures aimed at pulling Nigeria out of the quagmire she has found herself at this critical time.
Similarly, Deputy Speaker Yussuff Sulaimon Lasun
urged Nigerians to emulate the life of Christ and eschew violence and corruption that is capable of pulling the country down.
Rather, Nigerians should imbibe virtues that would develop the country, Lasun said.
In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Oyewole Oladimeji, the Deputy Speaker also appealed to Nigerians to give President Muhammadu Buhari a chance to right the wrongs in the country.