As Christians in Nigeria join their counterparts all over the world to mark the 2022 Christmas today, President Muhammadu Buhari, Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, governors and other prominent individuals, have urged Nigerians to imbibe the spirit of love, peace and forgiveness to reflect the life of Jesus Christ, who’s the reason for the season.
Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed every 25th day of December as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world.
The leaders reminded Nigerians that Christmas is a time when the love of God and the love of fellow men should prevail over all hatred and bitterness, and charged them to use the occasion to reach out to the less privileged.
In his goodwill message, Buhari urged Nigerians to extend the hand of fellowship to those who would wish to be part of the celebration but are constrained in one way or the other.
He said: “It is crucial that we remember our closest neighbours because there is no better way for us to celebrate Christmas as a people than showing genuine love, care, compassion and empathy for one another.
“In this season of love, joy and peace, let us not fail to remember those who really wish to celebrate but are constrained in one way or the other by reaching out to them.”
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State in his goodwill message, called for peaceful coexistence and religious tolerance among Nigerians of different faith as the antidote to the occasional conflicts in parts of the country.
According to him, inter-religious cooperation would engender peace and harmonious coexistence, stressing that occasional conflicts among various religions would not reoccur if the inter-religious dialogue was sustained.
Similarly, the Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, has asked Nigerians to shun religious profiling, love one another and promote the happiness of all.
“We must reflect deeply on the reason for the season. The birth of Jesus Christ teaches love, tolerance and sacrifice. Let us be deliberate in imbibing the lessons in this season.”
Peace and Harmony
Also, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, has urged Nigerians, especially Lagosians, to continue to live in peace and harmony as they celebrate.
He said: “I just want to assure our citizens that the government and the people of Lagos State will continue to be law-abiding. We will continue to live in peace and harmony among ourselves, and even as we go into this yuletide season, let us celebrate with moderation.”
In his felicitation, the Ekiti State governor, Biodun Oyebanji, has urged Nigerians to use the season of Christmas to reach out to the less privileged in society.
The governor added that the season is another opportunity to show gratitude to God for the outgoing year and pray for a more prosperous new year, and urged Christians to embrace peace, love, harmony and tolerance in line with the teachings of Jesus Christ.
In the same vein, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State has tasked Christians to demonstrate love to others as love was the reason for the coming of Christ to the world.
He told citizens that “Christmas is a season that rekindles hope despite the challenges that the nation is passing through”.
Spread the Messages
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has urged Christians to spread the messages of love, peace, hope and tolerance which Jesus Christ preached by personal example.
Lawan said: “The life and teachings of Jesus Christ enjoin his followers through holy living to be the light and salt that make the world brighter and better for mankind.”
Further, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, HoR, Femi Gbajabiamila, has described Christmas as a period for sober reflection and re-dedication to Christ’s teachings and ways.
Gbajabiamila enjoined the Christian faithful and other Nigerians to use the period to pray for peaceful and successful general elections in 2023, stressing that it was imperative to eschew any form of violence and acts that could undermine the peaceful conduct of the polls.
Also, the Minority Leader of the HoR, Ndudi Elumelu, has urged Nigerians to rekindle their trust in God and reinforce their love for one another in the renewed hope of a brighter future for the nation under a purposeful, caring and humane leadership in the coming year.
Likewise, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has called on Nigerians to show love and kindness by encouraging the act of giving as Nigeria is dealing with tough times.
The CAN chairman in Kaduna State, Rev. John Joseph Hayab, said “the birth of Christ is the ultimate gift ever given in the existence of the world. It is a symbolic gift that aims at exemplifying to us believers the importance of giving and the fact that there is no limit or boundaries to giving.”
Steadfast in Faith
In addition, the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Dr. Alfred Adewale Martins, has urged Nigerians to remain steadfast in faith and hope that the Almighty God would deliver Nigeria from the shackles of bad leadership and the attendant poverty, injustice, inequity, and feelings of marginalisation.
Martins said, that just as Jesus was born on Christmas night and he brought redemption to the whole of humanity, so his coming at Christmas this year would bring a positive transformation to the socio-economic and political landscape of the country.
Also, the presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, yesterday, promised Nigerians that they will not spend the next Christmas queuing for petrol at filling stations.
Atiku said this in his Christmas message signed by his Special Assistant on Public Communication, Phrank Shaibu.
The statement reads: “The APC administration has set a new record for the longest petrol scarcity in the history of Nigeria.
“Recall that the petrol scarcity started in January 2022 on account of the importation of dirty petrol high in methanol. ‘’
Similarly, his All Progressives Congress, APC, counterpart, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, said: “Christmas is a period of spiritual uplift as both Christians and non-Christians are moved to reflect upon God’s love for mankind and what, truly, it means to love your God, your neighbour and yourself.
“Thus, I say merry Christmas to the farmer, the student, the labourer, the artisan, the professional, the entertainer, the teacher, the police officer, the market women, the soldier and all Nigerians.’’