By Omololu Ogunmade
As Christians all over the world prepare to celebrate Easter tomorrow, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja urged them to intensify their faith in Christ Jesus whom he said triumphed over various trials and afflictions during His earthly sojourn.
The president, who stated this in his Easter message to Christians in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago, described Him as the symbol of man’s ability to overcome temporary discomfort that comes his way in anticipation of eternal glory.
Buhari also admonished Christians to exhibit virtues of sacrifice, humility, discipline, perseverance and obedience demonstrated by Christ, encouraging them and Nigerians in general to remain faithful and pray for the nation to come out of its current challenges.
“I wish to enjoin our Christian compatriots to rekindle their faith in Christ who overcame persecution, sufferings and displayed endurance, steadfastness and above all piety. Jesus Christ represented man’s ability to withstand temporary pains in the hope of everlasting glory.
“I urge you to imbibe and live the values of humility, discipline, perseverance, sacrifice and obedience which Jesus Christ demonstrated during His stay on earth. “There is no better opportunity than now for all Christians in particular, and Nigerians in general, to remain faithful and hopeful that with intensified prayers backed by personal and collective responsibility, the nation shall pull through this most difficult trial,” the president said.
He, however, said it was unfortunate that the 2020 celebration of Easter would be held by Christians “in a subdued manner”, without congregating as a result of the threat COVID-19 poses to human existence.
The president said, “I rejoice with our Christian brothers and sisters, as well as all Nigerians on the occasion of the celebration of this year’s Easter. This year’s commemoration of Easter comes amid the grip with which Covid-19 has held the entire world.
“Unprecedented in living memory, majority of Christians have found themselves marking Easter in a subdued manner, away from the usual congregation in churches.
This is unusual and very unfortunate.”
Also speaking on the efforts to contain COVID-19, Buhari said he was confident that if everyone complied with the rules prescribed by experts in containing the spread, it would be easier to overcome the challenge posed by the malignant disease.
He recalled his earlier remark that COVID-19 had no cure for now, emphasising that the only option available to mankind is to avoid being infected by adhering to the principles of hygiene and social distancing.
He also commended the efforts of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in containing the disease, saying the group had put in place what he described as “ameliorating strategies” to combat the scourge.
“I have no doubt that if all stakeholders – individuals and groups – play their part to the fullest as advised by our scientists and medical experts in confronting Covid-19, the inherent resilience and determination of our people will enable us to pull through.
“As I stated in my national broadcast on Sunday, March 29, 2020, since there is currently no known vaccine against the virus, “the best and most efficient way to avoid getting infected is through regular hygiene and sanitary practices as well as social distancing.”
“May I use this opportunity to commend the encouraging containment and ameliorating strategies put in place by members of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19,” the president added.
Furthermore, Buhari who said he was aware of the pains Nigerians had to currently endure as a result of the lockdown, pointed out that such sacrifice had become compelling because the country had a matter of life and death to contend with.
He said efforts would be made to cushion the effects of the pains faced by vulnerable citizens through supplies they need for survival.
The president said whereas Boko Haram terrorists might want to exploit the opportunity of the pandemic to unleash their terrorist attacks on some parts of the country, the security forces are on alert to get them incapacitated.
Finally, Buhari encouraged Nigerians to maximise this opportunity of Easter celebration positively as he wished them a happy Easter anniversary.
“I am very much aware of the personal and collective inconveniences suffered by our people due to measures such as restriction of movements and closure of business premises. Being “a matter of life and death,” these sacrifices are in everybody’s interest to save our country from calamity.
“The welfare of our people is paramount. Accordingly, the most economically vulnerable in our communities will continue to be uppermost in our plans, and efforts will be made to supply them with basic means of survival.
“While we see the Covid-19 pandemic as a global challenge, this administration is not oblivious of the constant threat posed to our national security by terrorists and insurgents. They may take this opportunity to perpetrate attacks. But our armed forces and other security and intelligence services will remain vigilant and continue to contain these threats and consolidate efforts to eradicate them completely.
“As we mark this year’s Easter, whatever the circumstances, I encourage you to make the most of the situation, and to keep safe. I wish you all a Happy Easter,” he added.