As Nigerian Christians join others around the world to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ today, public officials, politicians and political parties across the country have released goodwill messages, preaching peace, love, unity and tolerance.
President Muhammadu Buhari tops the list of leaders who have congratulated Christians on Christmas. He asked for prayers to overcome the country’s security, political and socio-economic challenges.
In the message he personally signed on Christmas eve, Mr. Buhari asked Nigerians to remember fellow citizens displaced by Boko Haram insurgency, and security forces facing the terrorists in the north-east and other security threats in other flash points in prayers.
“During this period, we should remember to offer special prayers to God for all our heroic citizens who paid the supreme price to restore peace and security in the North East and other flash points in the country. Let us also remember in our prayers the security forces in the frontline in the continuing battle to rid our nation of terrorism and violence.
“We must not forget the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in our midst and those who have suffered untold hardship as a result of activities of insurgents and terrorists,” he said.
As the President reassured of his government’s commitment to alleviating the country’s crushing hardship amidst recession, he remarked that “during his earthly sojourn, Jesus Christ repeatedly reminded his disciples and followers of peace that comes in the midst of trials and tribulations on earth.”
For the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, principal point of his message was emulation of Jesus Christ.
Mr. Dogara said that “faithful adherence to the virtues of Jesus Christ, including love, unity, sacrifice and peaceful coexistence, which constitute the fundamental ingredients for development of any nation, will lead to the growth and stability of Nigeria.”
He also “admonished Christians to use this period as one for sober reflection on the acute challenges facing the nation and to see how they could apply the virtues of Jesus Christ in fashioning out workable measures aimed at pulling Nigeria out of the quagmire she has found herself in at this critical time.”
Former Vice President Atiku Abubkar said Nigerians must pay keen attention to the message of love, peace and sacrifice, which Jesus preached during his time on earth.
Mr. Abubakar said, “Over the past months, a number of dark forces have combined to accentuate divisions in our country. In the areas of politics, religion and tribe, there seem to have been constant fractiousness and restiveness, with people of different groups exchanging threats or actual harm.
“That is why we need to remember the love that Jesus taught. We must love our neighbours as ourselves, do good to them and mean them well, whether or not they belong to our group. Nigeria cannot move forward as a country until each and every one of us realize that what is good for one should also be good for the other.”
Similarly, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu called on Nigerians to show love to their neighbours at Christmas, as that remains the fundamental message of the yuletide.
Mr. Ekweremadu whose wife, Nnaemeka, donated cash, food and clothing items to 250 widows across Enugu East senatorial district, said, “the spirit of sharing is an African tradition that generates happiness and ensures social stability in the absence of a formal social security mechanism that caters for the less privileged in our society.”
Then, as people travel massively across the country for Christmas and New Year celebrations, the Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, Boboye Oyeyemi, enjoined them to show peace and love to one another while using the road, saying consideration for others in the use of the road is the true demonstration of the spirits of the season.
Mr. Oyeyemi, through the spokesperson for the FRSC, Bisi Kazeem, also appealed to Nigerians to particularly cooperate with the FRSC and personnel of other law enforcement agencies and stakeholders deployed to the various black spots across the country to manage traffic and ensure crash and obstruction-free roads, saying road safety is a shared responsibility.
“FRSC patrol and Rescue teams as well as Monitors from the National Headquarters have been deployed to the Help Areas, Ambulance Points and identified black spots across the country to assist road travellers,” he said.
State governors also felicitated with Nigerians.
In a statement, Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, said, “the season of Christmas is one that exemplifies the virtues of love and peaceful co-existence. We must continue to extend hand of love, benevolence and live as one family irrespective of our creed or colour.
“We must also continue to respect each other’s right to live freely and peacefully.. The period of Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, who is the symbol of Christianity and the harbinger of peace, love and good tidings.”
His Rivers State counterpart, Nyesom Wike, urged the people of the state and other Nigerians to imbibe the values of Christmas by promoting peace, love, friendship and unity.
Nigeria’s leading political parties, the ruling All Progressives Congress and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party also joined in congratulating Nigerians, and Christians particularly as they celebrate Christmas.
APC, in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Bolaji Abdullahi, called for prayers towards peace, unity and development in Nigeria, while urging Nigerians across religious divides to imbibe values exemplified by the Christ during earthly mission.
“There is no doubt that the times are difficult and the Nigerian state is facing enormous challenges, but we assure Nigerians that the APC-led Federal Government is committed to enthroning the promised change, and is working hard towards the goal of true transformation and development,” the party further said.
The PDP said the economy was “undeniably precarious, and asked Nigerians to “pray for our leaders especially at these extreme times to rekindle our weakly economy and support further development of our dear Nation, Nigeria.
“We urge the APC led administration to concentrate more on issues that will unite us as a people rather than working to alienate and divide the Country along ethnic, religious and party lines.”