Apparently wary of the negative effect the lingering lockdown imposed to curtail the spread of coronavirus in the country would have on Nigerians, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and state governors have implored the citizens to consider the restriction order as a sacrifice to defeat the global pandemic the same way Jesus gave his life to save the world.
Osinbajo, while preaching during the Aso Villa Chapel Online Resurrection Sunday in commemoration of this year’s Easter, reminded Christians of the solemn sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross and its significance.
Osinbajo in a message titled, “Criminals on the Cross’’, said that the account of the crucifixion of Christ was an extraordinary story.
Citing Luke 23:32-34, 39-43, the vice president said that Christ paid the price for sins of the entire world, adding that even a condemned criminal made it with Jesus to Paradise.
He pointed out that the crucifixion was an inspiring message of redemption, which is a succinct statement of what the good news is all about.
The VP stated: “We want to bless the name of the Lord for a very wonderful day; the Lord God Almighty has given us a great opportunity to worship today in this resurrection.
“And for all of you who are watching from home, I know that you are going to be specially blessed because this day, wherever you may be, is the most important day in the Christian faith.
“It is the day we announce and affirm and reaffirm a very special day in the Christian calendar because it is the month of resurrection. The month that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and we are going to celebrate this day and keep celebrating because it is the evidence of our salvation; the evidence of our redemption”.
On his part, Ondo State governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, assured Christians in the state that the deadly COVID-19 will be defeated.
Akeredolu, in his message on the occasion of this year‘s Easter celebration, asked the people to continue to pray without ceasing against the deadly COVID-19 Pandemic.
A statement by his chief press secretary, Segun Ajiboye, quoted the governor as urging Christians to see the stay at home order as a sacrifice to contain the spread of the virus the same way Jesus gave his life to save the world.
While assuring them that the virus will be defeated while the people sing a song of victory, Akeredolu asked the people to emulate the virtues and preaching of Jesus Christ as they celebrate Easter with moderation.
The governor added that the people will bounce back stronger from the pains inflicted by COVID-19 with the resurrection of Christ.
He noted that the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ is a strong message to the people that they will come out stronger after the defeat of the virus.
Akeredolu enjoined the people of the state to join hands with the rest of the world to pray for health workers and others who are in the frontline of the battle against the Coronavirus.
In Borno State, Governor Babagana Umara Zulum warmly felicitated with Christians in the state and beyond, just as he urged them to imbibe selfless sacrifices and renewal of hopes and convictions during the celebrations.
In his message released by his spokesman, Malam Isa Gusau, the governor used the season to warn that notwithstanding the global focus on Covid-19 pandemic, Nigeria and the international community must never lose sight of the Boko Haram insurgency, which he said he saw as an older coronavirus he had earlier labelled “Covid-2009”.
Zulum stated: „ While wishing all Christians a happy and memorable Easter, I share the pain, that the important Easter is being celebrated at a time Nigeria, like many parts of the world, is battling to contain a pandemic caused by coronavirus disease.
„The Covid-19, first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, the capital of China‘s Hubei province, has so far caused the deaths of nearly 104,000 persons around the world from which Nigeria recorded 7 in mortality.
„Borno State government will remain relentless in fighting this dangerous and highly contagious disease through strict preventive and responsive measures.
„In the midst of the fight against Covid-19 however, there is the risk of stakeholders in Nigeria and the international community, losing focus on the fight against Boko Haram, which to us in Nigeria, is an older ‘Covid-2009-coronavirus’.
„Although the Boko Haram, under its initial identity as Taliban, launched its first attack back in October 2003 around Yobe state, the group gained notoriety in July 2009 and since then, no one knows the exact thousands of persons killed by this dangerous ’Covid-2009’.
„The Boko Haram is equally contagious through the spread of violent ideologies and links with terror groups around the world. It is also contagious by creating permanent fear and agonies for millions of people. We cannot afford to be distracted.
„We must be simultaneous and consistent in applying and sustaining tough measures against Covid-19 and ‘Covid-2009’. With their proven evil mindset, Boko Haram insurgents would expect us to be carried away with Covid-19, so they can exploit the situation to make Covid-2009 worse than it already is. We must never let this happen”.
For his part, Ogun state governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, called on residents and citizens of the state to put their hope in God in the face of then coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world.
The governor, in his Easter message, also called on them to play their roles as true citizens through love and sacrifice for the general good of the society.
He said the lockdown ordered by government to flatten the curve of the coronavirus is one sacrifice the people must make at this period to defeat the deadliest pandemic.
The governor said it was only through love and sacrifice toward the good of society that the people could uphold the legacy of Jesus Christ which is encapsulated in His selfless love and sacrifice on behalf of humanity.
Abiodun said, “The greatest legacy that Jesus Christ left for us is the legacy of love and sacrifice. I believe the best way we can carry on that legacy is to fulfill our obligations to our society.”
The Governor urged all Nigerians to reflect on the measures put in place by government, both at federal and state levels, to contain the spread of the pandemic by avoiding high-density gatherings and by maintaining social distance as prescribed by medical professionals.
“Easter”, the Governor further noted, “is a period when we engage in sober recollection of the ultimate and selfless sacrifice of love that Jesus Christ made on our behalf,” adding that society requires more expression of love to improve the quality of life of the people.
He stressed that the period calls for deep reflection on what the people’s roles and obligations should be to make the world a better place for posterity.
In Gombe State, Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, while felicitating with the Christian community, called on Christians to use the period to pray for continuous peace, stability and end to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Yahaya, although this year‘s Easter celebration is coming when the world is going through difficult times occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic, its consequential restrictions and economic downturn, the season provides an opportunity for unity of purpose, reinforcement of bond of brotherhood and dedication in service to God and humanity as exemplified by Jesus Christ.
In a statement by his senior special assistant on media and publicity, Ismaila Uba Misili, the governor noted that Easter symbolises love, sacrifice, service to God and country as well as triumph of good over evil.
Urging the people to always reflect on the lessons and significance of the season and demonstrate same in their lives, Yahaya said, „On this occasion of Easter feast, I want to enjoin our Christian brothers and sisters in Gombe State and the world over to continue to promote peace and good neighbourliness.
”I want to also urge you to remain steadfast in prayers and continue to sacrifice for the good and advancement of our dear state. I also call on you to continue to pray fervently against the Covid -19 pandemic that is threatening humanity and its means of livelihood.
„We are indeed in a trying moment but I am optimistic that with collective commitment, sacrifice and by turning to God through prayers we shall overcome the trial and emerge stronger“.
On his part, the Oba of Benin, Omo N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Ewuare II, called on Christian leaders across the country to always practice what they preach to their congregations.
The monarch, in a statement issued by the Secretary, Benin Traditional Council (BTC), Frank Irabor, also enjoined Christians “irrespective of domination to use this period of Easter to reflect on the teachings of Jesus Christ and endeavour to emulate Christ in their living”.
He continued: “The Benin Monarch advises Christian leaders to do what they preach in order not to mislead their congregations. The Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, reminded Christians to extend hands of fellowship to the needy and the less privileged in the society.
“While wishing Christians a Happy Easter celebration, His Royal Majesty, Ewuare II calls on Christians to fervently pray to God to forgive the sins of humanity and bring to an end the COVID-19 pandemic that is ravaging the world.”
Also, the Oluwo of Iwoland, Oba Abdulrosheed Adewale Akanbi, felicitated with Christians worldwide on the celebration of 2020 Easter, marking the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Oluwo described this year‘s Easter as challenging due to the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus infection threatening the world.
He tasked the populace, Christians, Muslims and traditionalists to repent holistically to avert further wrath of the infection.
Oba Akanbi said heinous sins characterising human race were the foundation of the deadly virus, urging individual to turn a new leaf and take after examples laid by Jesus Christ.
He said a sane world is achievable if majority could be as holy and transparent as Jesus Christ.
The monarch further implored Christians to extend generosity to alleviate hardship that might accompany the lockdown order on the populace.