EMERITUS Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, and the President, Christian Association of Nigeria, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, weekend, advised Nigerians to put aside religious pettiness and bigotry, and prayerfully work towards peaceful elections in 2023.
According to them, next year’s polls present a good chance to rewrite the history of the nation.
They also described prayer as a formidable tool that could solve the nation’s many challenges effectively.
Both men spoke at a one-day national prayer rally organised by the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, for the healing and transformation of the country.
At the rally held in Abuja, Onaiyekan said lack of peace and harmony had gradually deteriorated in the country; leaving behind negative consequences on the economy and living conditions of the people.
He said: “This has taken many forms, well known to all of us, from terrorist insurgency to violent attacks and killings by many types of armed groups; armed robbery and kidnapping for ransom; bandits capturing and exploiting human and natural resources in large sections of our national territory. It is as if nowhere is safe anymore in the country.
“There is pervasive deep frustration at the apparent inability of the state to restore peace and normalcy, despite frequent assurances.
“Furthermore, there are painful rumours of some presumed hidden agenda that has infiltrated our security structures with strange elements aiding and abetting the insecurity of the nation.
“Rumours have been making the rounds that our government may perhaps be lacking not just the ability but the political will to do the needful. This has led to a heightened sense of insecurity, with negative impact on a peaceful national harmony and fruitful economic life.
“This past week has seen a fresh wave of reports of imminent terrorist attack targeting the Abuja Federal Capital. Government has been issuing assurances of being in control of the situation.
“But the low level of trust of the general public in their government is rendering such assurances of little effective value. It is therefore natural that we see a major recourse to prayer by Nigerians of all creeds, in Mosques and Churches.”
“It is right and fitting that the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has called us together for this prayer session in this centre of joint Christian worship.”
Onaiyekan noted that while many of the woes facing the nation were natural, others were self-inflicted by those in political leadership.
“While we continue to insist that good behaviour should prevail in our public life, we should not give up calling upon God to change the hearts and minds of all those making our lives difficult.
“We would also do well to look into our own selves to see to what extent we too are part of the problem and ask for the forgiveness and grace of God,.
“We must be careful not to fall into the error of the people of God of the Old Testament, who could not resist the temptation to monopolize God as being theirs alone,” he added.