Christians in Abia State have been advised to renew their hope and faith in the ability of God to intervene in the affairs of humanity.
In their 2020 Easter messages, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, and the Catholic Bishop of Umuahia Diocese, Lucius I Ugorji, urged Christians and other residents of the state to see the present challenges as an opportunity to reaffirm their confidence in God.
Ikpeazu urged Christians in the state not to allow the present challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic to make them lose sight of the power of God as “God is more than able to bring the current situation under control”,
He said, “The palliative food items and cash given to churches and others of goodwill will continue and be extended to our people.”
According to Bishop Ugorji, “God will not allow his people to die and perish in their helplessness.
“This message of hope underscores the fact that even though the deadly forces of COVID-19 seems to be having an upper hand over life, life will triumph over its forces of death. Accordingly, far from yielding to paralysing fear and despair, we should face the future with Paschal hope and persevere to the end in the dark and difficult situations caused by COVID-19.”
Seek God’s intervention, Emmanuel tells Christians
In Akwa Ibom, the state Governor, Udom Emmanuel, has called on Christians in the state to use the period of lockdown to pray and seek the help of God for the state.
Emmanuel made the call in his Easter broadcast on Sunday.
He said, “It is unthinkable that our churches, businesses, offices and shops have been closed down. This is indeed a huge sacrifice. We thank you for enduring the pains.
“But you must remember that this season offers all of us in this lockdown the opportunity to look up to God for help and lock our faith in Him perpetually.
“We must continue to stand together in unity as one people having one state and worshipping only one God. We must turn again to the promise of Easter, which is that what God did in the resurrection of Jesus, God will do again for this blessed State.”
He added, “Let this Easter season remind us that we serve an omnipotent God whose steadfast love and tender mercies can never cease. Let us remember that as Jesus triumphed over death, we will also triumph over every agent of death, including COVID-19”
“After this pandemic is gone, we will all look up to the hills and wonder from whence came our help. We would testify that our help came from the only God who made heaven and earth, who did not allow our foot to be moved. Now is the time to reflect on Jesus Christ and wait upon Him, knowing that they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.
“I call on our people to remain united and eschew all forms of bitterness and hatred.”
Christians worship, celebrate in Katsina
Christians in Katsina on Sunday attended churches to mark Easter.
They had earlier celebrated Good Friday also on Friday in their various churches as part of Easter celebration.
The state government had last week relaxed the ban on large gathering in the state, especially as it related to congregational (Muslim and Christian) services in the state.
The churches visited on Sunday included the Power of Restoration Assembly, the Redeemed Christian of Church, Christ Embassy, the Living Faith Church, the Deeper Christian Life Ministry and the First Baptist Church. Worshippers turned up for Easter Sunday and prayed, among others, for quick end to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Chairman of the state branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Rev Nelson Onyekachukwu, in his remarks, said Christians in the state would always collaborate with the state government in efforts to curb the spread of the pandemic.
He said, “We shall always cooperate with the state government in moving the state forward. That is why you see our members abiding by the state government’s guidelines on how to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the state. Our members attending services were provided with soaps, water and sanitiser while we also observe social distancing in our sitting arrangements.
“We are also praying to God to help us end this pandemic so that the state, our country, Nigeria, and the whole world in general can move forward.”
Ooni forsees better days
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, on Sunday, described as unique this year’s Easter celebration due to restriction of movement in most places across the world to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Oba Ogunwusi in a Easter message signed by the Director of Media and Public Affairs, Ooni’s Palace, Moses Olafare, said despite the inability to celebrate the festival in the usual manner, people should remain grateful to God.
The statement read, “This is the first time that Easter is being celebrated without having the usual gathering, this is the first Easter that we are celebrating without even going to the church.
“In all of this, I am sure God Almighty is aware of the challenges before us in the world and he is in full control.
“Despite the pandemic which is a war against the world, we must be grateful because we are alive and among those who will witness the better days which is very close.”
Catholic priest delays service over social distancing
Meanwhile, the officiating Catholic priest at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Kano, on Easter Sunday, delayed the commencement of mass for 30 minutes, following the reluctance of parishioners to comply with the social distancing directive to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Earlier, the priest warned that he would not commence the mass until the parishioners complied with the social distancing directive, reminding them that a 75-year-old former ambassador had just tested positive to coronavirus.
After the parishioners grudgingly complied, the priest commenced the mass, pointing out that the measure was meant to shield them from the virus.
About six parishioners had sat on a bench, but the priest insisted that it should be decongested, stressing that only four persons should occupy a bench, originally meant for eight.
In his sermon, the priest reminded the parishioners that the social distancing directive was a proactive measure to protect them from contracting the coronavirus.
Confront COVID-19, Akinfenwa charges world leaders
The Bishop of Ibadan Diocese, Anglican Communion, The Most Rev Joseph Akinfenwa, on Sunday, urged world leaders and other stakeholders to confront COVID-19.
Akinfenwa gave the charge in a sermon he delivered at the Cathedral of Saint James, Oke-Bola, Ibadan, Oyo State.
He said, “God needs leaders who will lead others in the right direction and exhibit moral rectitude globally. This is not the Easter of noise-making but that of sober reflection. There is need for all to turn to God.”
He advised Nigerians, especially Christians, to be alive to the word of God, saying the human race had tasted the supremacy of God through the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to him, only God can rescue human beings from its clutch.
Sanwo-Olu commends health workers
In a show of gratitude to the medical personnel attending to various health emergencies in Lagos, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu went on live video on Instagram to mark the Easter holiday with the medical workers at the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Yaba and the Onikan Isolation Centre, Lagos Island.
A statement on Sunday said in the live video streamed at the isolation facilities, the governor appeared with a gospel artiste, Abolaji Banjoko, popularly known Beejay Sax, sending greetings and lifting the spirit of the medical personnel with songs of praise, even as they attended to medical emergencies.
The governor said the gesture was informed by the need to personally demonstrate his gratitude to the health workers and to boost their morale, describing all the frontline health workers engaged by the state government in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic as heroes.
Sanwo-Olu said, “Today being Easter, I take a moment to identify with all our health workers; the heroes who deny themselves of personal well-being and comfort to attend to emergencies we are grappling with at this period. I left every other thing I am doing and thought it necessary to share this moment with those who endure great pain and discomfort to save all of us from the agony of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.”
Mrs Bimpe Arowolo, a volunteer nurse, described the gesture as motivating.
She said, “This has lightened up our spirits and it will motivate us to give our best to this important assignment.”
The Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, has said Nigeria and its citizens desire unity, love and special courage to come out victorious against COVID-19.
Obasa said this in his goodwill message to Christians in the country as they marked this year’s Easter amid the challenge of the virus.
In a statement on Sunday, Obasa noted that where unity existed, the people show obedience to law, order and every other directive aimed at resolving challenges.
He said “Government’s best can only reflect positively where the residents are determined to show support and love for their neighbours at this time.”
Akeredolu predicts defeat of COVID-19
In his message, the Ondo State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, asked the people of the state to continue to pray, saying the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, would soon come to an end.
This was contained in a statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr Segun Ajiboye, on Sunday.
The governor said, “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,” and asked them to remain hopeful of a better future.