As Christians all over the world celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ, President Goodluck Jonathan has issued a red alert to the security agencies, advising them to use all the training, equipment and intelligence at their disposal to ensure a hitch-free celebration of Easter, and to make Nigerians have that sense of freedom to move freely once again.
This has prompted massive military and police deployments of troops by the Military and Police High Commands across the country to ward off possible bombings and suicide attacks by the Boko Haram group during the celebrations.
Also, governors, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, as well as Christian leaders have asked the celebrants to imbibe the virtues of Jesus Christ who humbled himself unto death to save mankind.
Some church leaders also urged public office holders in the country to adopt the servant-leader attribute of Jesus Christ by enhancing the quality of the people’s lives instead of engaging in primitive acquisition of wealth.
Those who sent their Easter greetings to Christians include the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, Dean of the Anglican Diocese of Lagos Mainland, Ven. Luyi Akinwade and the Director of Social Communications at the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Rev. Monsignor Gabriel Osu.
Others were the OgunState governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, his CrossRiverState counterpart, Senator Liyel Imoke and Governor Gabriel Suswam of BenueState among others.
The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Martins in a homily during a Chrism Mass at St. Michael, Raphael and Gabriel, SatelliteTown, called on priests and members of the diocese to remain faithful and steadfast in their various services to God and humanity.
In his first Chrism Mass since becoming archbishop of Lagos, Martins urged the priests to keep the dignity of priesthood and not forget the grace and honour given to them to serve in the Lord’s vineyard, noting that they needed to listen to the spirit of God to guide aright, the people whom God had put into their care.
He added that no priest will serve effectively in his priesthood without self-denial and detachment from worldly possession, saying: “God has given us the responsibility to keep intact the dignity of priesthood, hence the need for us to be faithful in our service to God and humanity. Let us listen to the spirit of God and be wholeheartedly committed to our primary assignment which is to preach the gospel of Christ and not to preach political theology, football analysis and economic issues; but specialise in promoting encounter with God and people”.
According to Martins, the mass was a yearly event which usually take place during Holy Week in every Catholic diocese; during which the clergy renew their priestly vows and the bishop blesses the holy oils that would be used in Catholic ceremonies throughout the year.
In his welcome address, the Parish Priest Rev. Fr. Lawrence Odoemena described the mass as historic since it was the Archbishop’s first Chrism Mass in the parish and under a new pope.
The Anglican Diocese of Lagos Mainland, Yaba, Lagos, Venerable Luyi Akinwade, called on Nigerians to emulate the virtues of Jesus Christ who willingly laid down his life for the redemption of the world.
The cleric urged public office holders to adopt the servant-leader attribute of Jesus Christ by enhancing the quality of the people’s lives rather than engaging in inordinate quest for wealth.
“This Easter offers all of us another opportunity to appreciate the invaluable sacrifice made by Jesus Christ by laying down his life for us all. If Christ who is God can willingly offer himself for us sinners, then who are we not to do same. We must appreciate the message and significance of Easter by learning to accommodate one another.
“Government should stop selective justice. So many probes have been carried out in the past with nothing to show for them. Who is fooling who? No one is above the law; anyone found guilty should be made to face the full weight of the law so as to serve as deterrent to others,” he said.
Commenting on the level of corruption in the country, the cleric said the government was not sincere enough in its purported fight against corruption, as culprits continued to enjoy a free reign.
Similarly, the Archdiocesan Director of Social Communications, Rev. Monsignor Osu, said that yesterday’s commemoration of the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ, was symbolic ‘’because it is through the death of Christ that mankind was redeemed.
“It (Good Friday) is the day Christians in general celebrate the passion and death of Jesus Christ who was crucified on the Cross of Calvary for the redemption of mankind,” he added, urging Christians in the country to observe the day with fasting, repentance, meditation and abstinence from evil acts and instead engage themselves in charity work.
Rev. Father Mathew Nkoli of Saint Andrew Catholic Church, Iba, also urged Christians to see the occasion as a time to engage in deep sober reflection of their lives, and remedy past mistakes.
”One lesson that could be drawn from the death of Christ is that despite the cruel torture meted on him, he still loved his murderers. This depicts forgiveness, and we as Christians, must learn from the example of Christ, on his way to the cross,” he stated.
On its part, the PDP said, that no force or ideology in Nigeria was strong enough to disintegrate the country, just as it urged Nigerians to use the season of Easter to search for the truth.
The party in its message signed by National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, asked Nigerians to always base all their actions on truth as underscored by the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
According to PDP, Nigerians should also imbibe the virtues of love, selflessness and service as exemplified and symbolized by Christ, saying that was the only way to ensure a peaceful and prosperous nation where all would be happy.
The party equally urged those in authority to emulate the humility and selflessness of Jesus Christ by regarding their positions as call to service and not for selfish gains.
”If Easter says anything to us today, it says this: You can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there. You can nail it to a cross, wrap it in winding sheets and shut it up in a tomb, but it will rise,” Metuh added, even as he further urged Nigerians to love one another by being their brothers’ keepers.
”Our being one country despite the cultural and religious differences is not an accident but an opportunity to share and cherish our common humanity.”
No force or ideology is strong enough to disintegrate Nigeria. Nigeria has come to stay and will certainly outlive those threatening its corporate existence.
”The PDP congratulates the Christian community on yet another Easter celebration and urges them to promote the ideals of love, sacrifice and peaceful coexistence. The PDP calls for continuous prayers for peace in the country and the entire world and commiserates with those who suffered losses in sectarian violence in the country and call on public spirited individuals to show some kindness to the families of the victims,” he further said.