•Osinbajo: Things will get better for Nigeria
•Kukah cautions against rewarding repentant criminals
Pope Francis yesterday urged countries to quicken the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, particularly to the world’s poor, describing the spending on armed conflict and military during a pandemic as “scandalous.”
In his Easter message after saying the Mass, Francis read his “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message, in which he traditionally reviewed the world’s problems and appealed for peace, Reuters reported. A similar message by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo also called on Nigerians not to despair over the state of the nation, expressing optimism that things are bound to look better for the country with time.
Like the Pope, the Catholic Bishop of the Sokoto Diocese, Most Reverend Matthew Hassan Kukah, condemned the policy of rewarding repentant criminals who have killed, maimed Nigerians and destroyed property worth millions to the detriment of their victims.
But the Serving Overseer of the Citadel Global Community Church (CGCC), Pastor Tunde Bakare, has said that the efforts of the Buhari administration in the past six years have been inadequate in dealing with the root causes of the country’s challenges.
With the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 is the second year in a row that Easter papal services were attended by small gatherings at a secondary altar of St. Peter’s Basilica, instead of by crowds in the church or in the square outside.
The pope said: “The pandemic is still spreading, while the social and economic crisis remains severe, especially for the poor. Nonetheless – and this is scandalous – armed conflicts have not ended and military arsenals are being strengthened.
Francis, who would normally have given the address to up to 100,000 people in St. Peter’s Square, spoke to fewer than 200 in the church while the message was broadcast to tens of millions around the world.
The square was empty except for a few police officers enforcing a strict three-day national lockdown.
The pope asked God to comfort the sick, those who have lost a loved one, and the unemployed, urging authorities to give families in greatest need a “decent sustenance.”
He praised medical workers, sympathised with young people unable to attend school, and said everyone was called to combat the pandemic.
“I urge the entire international community, in a spirit of global responsibility, to commit to overcoming delays in the distribution of vaccines and to facilitate their distribution, especially in the poorest countries,” he added.
Francis, who has often called for disarmament and a total ban on the possession of nuclear weapons, said: “There are still too many wars and too much violence in the world! May the Lord, who is our peace, help us to overcome the mindset of war.”
Noting that it was International Awareness Day against anti-personnel landmines, he called such weapons “insidious and horrible devices.”
He stated that the world would be much better “without these instruments of death!”
In mentioning conflict areas, he singled out for praise “the young people of Myanmar committed to supporting democracy and making their voices heard peacefully”.
More than 550 protesters have been killed since a February 1 military coup in Myanmar, which the pope visited in 2017.
The pope called for peace in several conflict areas in Africa, including the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia and the Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique, noting that the crisis in Yemen has been “met with a deafening and scandalous silence”.
He appealed to Israelis and Palestinians to “rediscover the power of dialogue” to reach a two-state solution where both can live side by side in peace and prosperity.
Francis said he realised many Christians were still persecuted and called for all restrictions on freedom of worship and religion worldwide to be lifted.
Things will Get Better for Nigeria, Says Osinbajo
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has asked Nigerians not to despair over the state of the nation as things are bound to look better with time.
Osinbajo who spoke on the sideline of the Easter Sunday service at Aso Rock Chapel at the State House, Abuja, told Nigerians to have great hope that things are going to get better for the country.
He said: “I just want to thank God for our nation, and pray that our nation will experience the grace and mercy of God in so many different ways that we are expecting His grace and mercy. All will be well in Jesus Christ’s name.”
He added that the message of Easter was a message of the special and exceeding love and grace of God.
“God’s plan for humanity was that Christ will die and will resurrect. The resurrection is evidence of the fact that those who believe would be saved eternally and would live eternal joy and peace with the Almighty. And that promise is open to every single person.
“Whoever you are, that promise is open to you. That is, if you subscribe to that plan if you accept that Christ died for you and rose again and that the plan is fulfilled in the resurrection,” he stated.
Osinbajo also described the Easter season as one “of great joy because we celebrate the evidence of the plan of God. In some way, God has given us a receipt of our salvation and it’s really exciting.”
Kukah Cautions against Rewarding Repentant Terrorists, Bandits
The Catholic Bishop of the Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah has bemoaned the policy of rewarding repentant criminals who have killed, maimed Nigerians and destroyed property worth millions of naira to the detriment of their victims.
Kukah added that the resort to use of propaganda, selling of half-truths and outright lies by those in authority to blackmail genuine critics could only worsen the already bad situation in the country
In his message to mark this year’s Easter celebration, Kukah said the so-called repentant terrorists, bandits and kidnappers have waged war against their country, murdered thousands of citizens, destroyed infrastructure and rendered families permanently displaced and dislocated.
He urged the government to stop investing billions of naira in rehabilitating bandits rather than bringing succour to the victims.
He lamented that the relations of most of these victims have been left to mourn alone and bury their loved ones alone in agony and penury.
He said: “When kidnapped or killed, victims and their families are left to their wits. They cry alone, bury their loved ones alone. And our government expects us to be patriotic?”
According to him, victims of terrorism and banditry need empathy and succour, which have not been forthcoming from government.
He added: “Sadly, human life is hemorrhaging so badly in Nigeria, but the greatest tragedy is the death of empathy from those in power. Mysteriously, the government is investing billions of naira in rehabilitating so-called Boko Haram repentant members and their other partners in crime in the belief that they want to turn a new leaf.
“These criminals have waged war against their country, murdered thousands of citizens, destroyed infrastructure and rendered entire families permanently displaced and dislocated. Why should rehabilitating the perpetrator be more important than bringing succour to the victims?”
Kukah also lamented the level of frustrations in the country resulting from endemic corruption and poverty.
He stated that Nigeria is drifting almost irreversibly into a dark tunnel.
“Things are falling apart with unnerving rapidity because those who govern have only a pact to protect their interests. Politics is merely its conveyor belt of ambition. Nigeria has a date with destiny. If we do not turn around, The axe is already laid to the roots of the tree,” he said.
According to Kukah, while the country is sinking deeper into crisis, those in government are busy “manufacturing consent by creating imaginary enemies, setting citizens against one another by deploying religion, ethnicity, region, and other platforms.”
“Recently, according to the World Happiness Report, we are one of the unhappiest nations in the world. This is unacceptable but understandable. Our clay-footed fight against corruption has not moved the needle of transparency forward.
“Of course, being the poverty capital of the world comes with its rewards such as banditry, violence, death, sorrow, blood, poverty, misery, and tears. Our cup of sorrow is permanently full; hence the exponential rise in the frustration curve across the country,” he said.
The bishop spoke on the controversy and crisis generated by the issue of Muslims wearing hijab in Christian schools in Kwara State, describing it as one of those selfish political actions that tend to undermine national cohesion.
He said: “The rumblings over the wearing of a hijab in Kwara State suggest that we have not seen the end of individuals sacrificing national cohesion to feed their personal ambitions by starting small.”Most politicians hardly think through the long-term effects of these pyrrhic victories of using religion. What started as a small fire with adoption of Sharia in Zamfara in 1999, spread across the northern states. “Ordinary people broke into ecstatic joy. Today, what has become of the North? What are the lessons?”
Kukah urged Nigerians not to lose hope but to be steadfast in prayers and supplications.
While wishing Nigerians a happy and peaceful Easter celebration, Kukah said Prophet Isaiah’s words should give them hope and consolation.
He said: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”