As Nigerians celebrate this year’s Christmas on Tuesday, the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Dr. Alfred Adewale Martins has urged Christians and indeed all Nigerians to allow the joy and peace, which the birth of Jesus Christ signifies to permeate their lives and cause them to extend love and fellowship to the less privileged.
In his Christmas message through the Director of Social Communications, Monsignor Gabriel Osu, Martins said the birth of Christ remains the greatest demonstration of God’s love to all humanity.
He said: “Taking human flesh and being born into the human family affords all human beings a great opportunity to reaffirm the dignity of the human person, so that we can unite in thanksgiving to the creator. This is why we are called not only to love our fellow humans with a passion, but also to show great care for the environment at this time and all the time.
“Christmas season is a period of joy and celebrations but also one of stock-taking, self-evaluation and thanksgiving to God. The season expresses the boundless love of God; a love that heralds hope, inaugurates peace, engenders faith, and establishes the triumph of justice.”
He enjoined Christians not to lose the spiritual essence of the celebration to the externals of decorations, exchange of gifts, eating and drinking. The spiritual essence is the heart, the most important and significant aspect of the season. He said: “As we busy ourselves with traveling, shopping, partying, cleaning and other material preparations for Christmas, let us not lose sight of its spiritual significance–the opportunity to encounter Jesus and embrace his offer of friendship and salvation.”
For President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Rev. Samson Olasupo A. Ayokunle, the season of merrymaking calls for vigilance hence the need for the Police and other security agencies to be more proactive and alert to their responsibilities.
In a chat with The Guardian, Ayokunle, who is also the President of the Nigerian Baptist Convention said the birth of Jesus Christ was the physical display of God’s love to humans, to redeem mankind from the repercussions of the fall in the Garden of Eden, adding that Christians need to celebrate God’s goodwill, peace and his son, whom he gave to save us from eternal death.
He said: “Apart from celebrating our saviour, church leaders should use the season to educate people on the necessity to go and vote during all the elections in order to chart a course for a better Nigeria. Credible politicians that would attend to the needs of all in the nation should be voted into office irrespective of the political party that they belong to. It is not party that will give us a better society, but sensible and task-oriented people. We have such politicians in the different political parties; they should be identified and voted into power.”
The CAN president admonished the police and other law enforcement agents, as well as, officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not to mortgage the future of Nigerians, by aiding and abetting rigging during the elections, adding that they must not intimidate voters as international observers alleged in recently held elections.
“A credible election will guarantee for us, credible leaders that would bring us development. Nigerians want to see a better and peaceful nation,” he said.
Also speaking on the season, the Presiding Bishop, Rhema Christian Church and Towers, Taiwo Akinola, noted that the country’s economic situation has made misguided youths to resort to crimes such as kidnapping, armed robbery, internet fraud, as well as, making themselves ready tools in the hands of insurgents, politicians and sponsors of communal crises.
He disclosed that this is not only the by-product of lack of fear of God, but also of the gross economic and social disparity inherent in the nation’s planning and haphazard execution of projects aimed at generating employment opportunities.
He called on governments at all levels to create jobs and keep youths off crime, even as he drew attention to the pathetic state of our roads, which have been responsible for crashes and eventual loss of lives.
On power he said: “Quite a number of industries have left the country as a result of inadequate public power supply, thereby throwing some Nigerians into the already saturated labour market. We advise the Federal Government and the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to ensure that GENCOS and DISCOS live up to their mandate, by providing regular electricity supply, as well as, the provision of prepaid metres with a view to putting to an end, the present arrangement of shortchanging Nigerians through estimated billing,” he said.