• Stop parochial ethnic, religious, interests– Archbishop Martins
• Everything literarily broken, only corruption is alive and well – Bishop Kukah
• Your insincerity, inaction have done enormous damage, save Nigeria – Bishop Badejo
• We do not need vengeful or tribal leaders– Bishop Odetoyinbo
The Catholic Bishops have urged Nigerians never to lose hope in God despite the country’s rising difficult situation in almost all spheres of life. In the midst of Nigeria’s complex reality, the Easter messages of the Catholic Bishops respectively conveyed unfailing hope recalling that the ‘Risen Christ’ is hope for all while they also took swipes at President Muhammadu Buhari – led administration charging them to rise up to the challenges and be more productive in curtailing the growing spate of insecurity in the country.
Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins, Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos, in his Easter message dissuaded government against narrow-minded ethnic and religious interests, tasking them to focus on the common good of her citizenry. He urged Nigerians to pray for the grace to recognise the risen Christ in the reality of their lives and to live in His love with trust and confidence as well as in His promise to give them victory over their challenges.
The Archbishop of Lagos congratulated Christians across the nation as they celebrate Easter. This was contained in a statement issued by Rev. Fr. Anthony Godonu, Director of Social Communications, Archdiocese of Lagos.
Archbishop Martins also charged all Christians to renew their promises of baptism at Easter, to reject Satan and all his evil works and deeds. According to him, this would serve as a reflection of their faith and their readiness to live the new life of Easter and bring hope to the poor and those living in fear.
He also urged government at all levels to strive to take the right decisions and appropriate actions in order to lift the people out of the misery in which most of our citizens are living at the moment.
“As we celebrate Easter, we must not forget that the resurrection of Christ is an expression of His power to overcome sin and dispel all forms of darkness, despair and death. Our faith in the resurrection compels us to have no doubt or fear that all shall be well again even as we live the reality of the current desperate situation in our country. “The high level of insecurity is very real in our time. The brutal killings that are reported almost on a day-to-day basis create fear and panic. The most recent are the massacres in Plateau and Benue states even as violence is reported in other parts of the country. Our government must rise up to its responsibility.
“The hardship that our people are facing today arises from the fact that over the years, the leadership of our country has often been concerned about parochial ethnic, religious and narrow interests instead of the common good. We must realise that individual personal good, security etc. can be assured only if the good of every individual person is attained. ”Both leaders and people must renounce the path of selfishness and greed that we are pursuing now. If we learn to love one another as Christ loves us, then we can build a better society where all would be able to develop and grow at their own pace and actualize their God-given visions and dreams as children of God.” The prelate sympathised with the victims of the ill-fated Abuja/Kaduna train which was recently attacked by terrorists in which many were killed and some other passengers were kidnapped. He equally condoled with families of the over 100 lives that were brutally cut short in Plateau State by men suspected to be bandits and terrorists. While condemning all acts of terrorism, kidnapping and murder which he described as callous, devilish and extreme wickedness devoid of logical reasoning, he bemoaned the inability of government to stem the tide of the activities of these agents of darkness despite its numerous promises and the huge resources, including intelligence at its disposal. He challenged President Muhammadu Buhari and his cabinet members, including the Service Chiefs to utilise the remaining period of this administration to stem the tide of the ravaging insecurity across the country.
In same vein, the Easter message of Most Rev. (Dr.) Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo, Bishop of Oyo Diocese noted that through resurrection and salvation, Jesus saved humanity that the reign of falsehood, oppression, injustice and sin will not endure. “I call on all leaders and the powerful of the world to stop terrorists. While condemning all acts of terrorism, kidnapping, and murder which he described as callous, devilish and extreme wickedness devoid of logical reasoning, he bemoaned the inability of government to stem the tide of the activities of these agents of darkness despite its numerous promises and the huge resources, including intelligence at its disposal. He challenged President Muhammadu Buhari and his cabinet members, including the Service Chiefs to utilise the remaining period of this administration to stem the tide of the ravaging insecurity across the country.
His statement indicated that during the torture and crucifixion of Jesus Christ, He received the violence, anguish and hatred of the powerful people but disarmed them by showing that they did not have the last word. Bishop Badejo said, “Easter Sunday, is the celebration of that day when Jesus Christ rose from the dead changed the destiny of humanity, and heralded our victory over sin and eternal death. All must rejoice that sin and evil can be defeated. That includes the poor and the oppressed for Jesus is alive. “Alleluia! Tell the world that all the betrayal, the rejection, oppression, the lies, and wickedness of the powerful people of this world will someday be defeated by justice and love. Light will win, darkness will fail. Remember the two women who brought the news to the disciples were not rich or powerful people. God is on the side of the poor and oppressed. Don’t lose hope. “Through the resurrection, God shows his power to deliver and to save humanity. Those who continue to block and seal the tomb in order to prevent the resurrection of reconciliation, peace, love, justice, and harmony must change or be defeated. “They are the reason for all the war, the suffering the destruction and oppression which we see all around. Jesus brings assurance of final victory that the reign of falsehood, oppression, injustice and sin will not endure. “I call on all leaders and the powerful of the world to stop their hypocrisy, work for peace and follow the example of Jesus Christ who humbled himself to serve and laid down his life for others. They must roll away the stone of hate and wickedness for the way of love is the way of God. “That is why Jesus said: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and mind… love your neighbour as yourself ” (Matt22:37, 38). Only love will save the world and endure till the end of time.”
Bishop Badejo urged all Nigerians to rededicate themselves to living in peace. He charged all warring factions to drop their weapons to build a more just and secure society. His stance follows the triumph of Easter, reconciliation and fraternity. The statement read in part, “All of us must spread the news that Jesus is alive. Let everybody else feel the joy of Easter. I call on all troubled, warring families, groups, communities and nations, “for God’s sake, be reconciled with one another, drop your weapons. As pope Francis has said, let us disarm all hands of brothers raised against brothers. There is a better way to live than that of violence, bloodshed, be at peace with everyone so that God may be pleased with us all”. He charged all governments and all leaders not to be insincere, “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”. In spite of everything, Happy Easter to all!!!”
Most Rev. (Dr.) Peter Odetoyinbo, Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Abeokutade cried the spate of killings, kidnappings and sufferings that Nigerians currently undergo, stressing that the reality of the nation demands urgent action if the citizens shall have a nation to call their own. Delivering his Easter message recently, he said, “At this time in our nation’s political history, we do not need leaders that are vengeful or vying to fight on behalf of a party or tribe but leaders with the right intention to build communion and mend broken relationships. “Nigeria has been at war for many years now from the onslaught of insurgents and bandits; our people are being slaughtered by the day, villages are attacked, houses set on fire, farmland taken over by the enemies of our nation (unknown gunmen), kidnapping has now become the order of the day with human beings as instruments of political agitations sometimes made to pay humongous amount of money as ransom that their immediate family members cannot even afford. “We hear of bandits walking into communities raping and maiming Nigerians in their homes and farmland with many injured; rails and roads are no longer safe. How did we get here? We cannot ignore these wounds we experience daily. We must let the best of our people with right intentions aspire to political office. Anyone vying for any political office must therefore understand that he or she has a great task in his or her hand. “Times have changed now and things seem to be falling apart; the economy is biting hard on Nigerians as prices of commodities have increased exponentially and inflation rate is unimaginable. “Even the gift of our natural resources is not showing in terms of the quality of life of our people, neither can they boast of the dividends of democracy. All they are asking right now is for the government to protect their lives and properties.”
Bishop Odetoyinbo urged Nigerians to take advantage of the forthcoming elections to enthrone genuine leaders. He said, “This New life of Easter must also be visible in our social cum political life as we prepare for another general election with new attitude towards voting and electioneering. We must Jettison vote-buying and for once stand up for the good of our nation.”
Most Rev. (Dr.)Odetoyinbo noted that sitting at home and criticising political leaders will not move the country forward or change the situation for good. He admonished Nigerians to elect credible leaders and contribute their quota in fixing the country. “Nigerians can no longer sit on the fence anymore; it is time to participate by way of civil responsibility in the affairs of our country. We have complained for so long about the problems we face as a people, it is time to join hands together to fix them.” The prelate called for peace, “We look forward to a greater Nigeria where there will be peace and progress as entrenched in our national anthem; one nation bound in freedom, peace and unity, that is our dream. We want peace and unity in Nigeria irrespective or tribe, tongue and religion. The principle of love and justice must therefore be embraced, promoted and defended.”
Most Rev. (Dr.) Matthew Hassan Kukah, Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, slammed President Muhammadu Buhari, over not doing enough to tackle insecurity and other socio-economic challenges confronting the country. He alleged that President Buhari has divided Nigerians on the basis of ethnicity, religion, and region. Bishop Kukah noted in his Easter message titled, ‘To mend a broken nation: The Easter metaphor, that the country is in disarray, stressing that the level of destruction under Buhari has never been witnessed in the history of the nation. He said, “Our dear country, Nigeria, still totters and wobbles as we screech towards a dangerous and avoidable canyon of dry bones. “One would be tempted to ask, what is there to say about our tragic situation today that has not been said? Who is there to speak that has not spoken? Like the friends of Job, we stare at an imponderable tragedy as the nation unravels from all sides. The government has slid into hibernation mode. “It is hard to know whether the problem is that those in power do not hear, see, feel, know, or just don’t care. Either way, from this crossroad, we must make a choice, to go forward, turn left or right or return home.
None of these choices is easy, yet, guided by the light of the risen Christ, we can reclaim our country from its impending slide to anarchy. “The challenge of fixing this broken nation is enormous and, as I have said, requires joint efforts. With everything literally broken down, our country has become one big emergency national hospital with full occupancy. “Our individual hearts are broken. Our family dreams are broken. Homes are broken. Churches, mosques, and infrastructure are broken. Our educational system is broken. Our children’s lives and future are broken. Our politics is broken. Our economy is broken. Our energy system is broken. Our security system is broken. Our roads and rails are broken. Only corruption is alive and well. “The greatest challenge for Nigeria is not even the 2023 elections. It is the prospect for the reconciliation of our people. Here, the Buhari administration sadly has divided our people on the basis of ethnicity, religion, and region, in a way that we have never witnessed in our history. This carefully choreographed agenda has made Nigerians vulnerable and ignited the most divisive form of identity consciousness among our people. Years of friendships, cultural exchange, and collaboration built over time have now come under serious pressure from stereotyping.” Speaking further, he recommended, “We need to start thinking of a Nigeria beyond banditry and kidnapping and the endless circles of violence that have engulfed our communities and nation. We cannot continue to pretend that there are no religious undertones to the violence in the name of God that has given our religions a bad name.”
Bishop Kukah added, “The way out is for the state to enforce the secular status of the Nigerian state so as to give citizens the necessary freedoms from the shackles of semi-feudal confusion over the status of religion and the state in a plural Democracy. We must be ready to embrace modernity and work out how to preserve our religions and cultures without turning religion into a tool for tyranny, exclusion, and oppression.