Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has joined in the public outcry for transparency, accountability and inclusiveness of all regions and religious persuasions in the identification of the “poor” to which pandemic relief materials and payments are being made available at federal and state levels.
CAN pointed out the level of distrust in the system to the point that many Nigerians, including the National Assembly, are still not convinced that poor Nigerians were the beneficiaries even after the government had explained the mode by which they identified the beneficiaries.
CAN’s president, Dr. Samson Ayokunle Olasupo, in his Easter message, released in Abuja on Thursday, said, “We know the government cannot touch every poor in the society for lack of enough resources, but equal selection of the poor per state with balance in religious persuasions would have done better justice.”
He, however, renewed the hope of Nigerians, particularly Christians, who are badly affected by the negative impacts of coronavirus, that victory shall come sooner than expected.
The CAN president thus reminded Christians that there was no other time when the hope of victory over circumstances of life, which Easter entailed, was more relevant to humans than now when Christians were forced to celebrate Easter for the first time in over 100 in lockdown.
He said: “The coronavirus disruptions of human activities cannot deter us from our joy and victory over all evils, which Christ’s unique resurrection from the dead brought to us. The period of the arrest, the trial, the sufferings of Christ and his eventual crucifixion and burial were not only periods of pains and gloom to the Lord himself but much more to his followers.
“It appeared every hope was lost. However, the devil didn’t have a field day for long. On the third day, death couldn’t hold him captive anymore, the Lord broke the power of hell, grave and all evils that conspired together against the King of glory. He rose in power and victory to the shame of Satan and his cohorts. The disciples saw the Lord, ate with him and were happy again. Their faces radiated with joy and victory at last.
“Beloved and fellow Nigerians, we shall see the end of all evils challenging us, in the name of Jesus, including COVID-19. A writer once said ‘Tough times never last but tough people do.’ Even at this time, those who know their God shall wax strong and do exploits.”
He reminded all local churches of the need to make relief packages available to the poor among them to enable them partake in the celebration of the resurrection of Christ amid the lockdown: “This is the time we would know the true church of Christ and those that are just commercial outfits.”
The CAN president commended the federal and state governments for rising up to fight coronavirus and urged them not to be detered until it was kicked out of Nigeria.
“We shall continue to pray for the government for right and inclusive decisions always for our general good. We are fully persuaded that, very soon, coronavirus will become history and we shall all have victory over it,” he said.
Archbishop Okeke preaches safety at Chrism Mass
Metropolitan Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha, Most Rev. Valerian Maduka Okeke, yesterday, celebrated the annual Holy Thursday Chrism Mass at the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity with only three representatives from parishes in Onitsha region.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the suspension of public masses, which the Archbishop announced last week as part of safety measures, the usual crowd of Catholics from various parishes that usually attended the ceremony was missing.
Only accredited delegates, comprising of the vice chairman, parish council, and chairlady of the Catholic Women Organisation with their parish priests were allowed into the arena.
Priests and delegates sat three in a row maintaining clear distance during the mass, while there was no shaking of hands during the “sign of peace” and the Holy Communion was placed in the open hand, instead of the mouth.
Archbishop Okeke, while praying for divine assistance in eradicating the COVID-19 scourge globally, also chided those who still doubted the reality of the coronavirus and have been indifferent to safety measures outlined in containing the pandemic.
He cautioned people to avoid public gatherings and loitering outdoors, while maintaining healthy living habits, including taking hot liquids like water, coffee and tea.
Speaking on this year’s Lenten pastoral them, “Sacraments are treasures”, he said in the body of sacraments lies the treasures to encounter God through His son, Jesus Christ.
He described the sacraments as efficacious signs of grace, which Christians should embrace, and lamented the loss of family values in many homes today.
Episcopal Vicar, Onitsha Region, Rev. Fr. Patrick Omuta, said the celebration of Easter Tridum without the congregation attending because of the coronavirus lockdown was a sign that the church may hide but can never be destroyed.