Beloved, between lent and Good Friday our Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, fought against the wild beasts which threatened to destroy His flock. In the fight, it seemed He was overcome by them when He died on the cross and was buried in the tomb. His enemies must have rubbed their hands together in satisfaction because the disturber of their conscience was at last silenced. But Glory be to God, on Easter Sunday, we rejoice in the restoration of life which the Good Shepherd gave for the sheep. The song “Christ lives!” has since sounded from millions of voices all over the Christian world. The sheep has not been deprived of their shepherd. He is risen from the dead. The lamb that was slain now carries the banner of victory.
Easter spells victory over sin and death. It reminds us that when man’s outlook was dark and his eternal future a tragedy, God stepped in, removed the insufferable strain and pacified the hateful enmity between man and God, in other to establish not a temporary armistice, but an everlasting reconciliation. It is very clear, crystal clear, that no accomplishment of ours, no achievement, can ever rival the victory of Easter. Therefore, today and each Easter-tide we celebrate the fact and the future, that is, the fact of resurrection and our future as sharers in the victory.
People of God, we need this victory, especially when we view the long history of the wayward children of men. The insecurity within and without, oppression and suppression in different shades, forms and colours, particularly in Nigeria today, a nation that has been scarred by conflict and stained with innocent blood. We cannot but yearn for the Easter certainty with groaning which cannot be uttered.
Easter spells it out that death is not the end. We need this assurance that as we are “being killed” everyday, that “our death” daily is not the end, but the beginning of a new life that will dawn pretty soon.
The disciples of old had a similar dilemma that is confronting us today. They loved the past, they did not believe in the present and they dreaded the future. The resurrection of Jesus Christ made the difference to them and it should also make the difference in our lives. Because He lives, we can face tomorrow. We too have a future, a glorious future for that matter. A dead saviour means nothing to us now or instead, the atonement He made was a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. Though He was a victim, He was also the Victor, which proved that the atonement he made was acceptable, complete and perfect.
Christ’s resurrection is the model and source of our future resurrection because “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” 1Cor.15:20-22. Christ resurrection is our resurrection. It brings redemption not only to the people of God, but to the entire order of creation. Jesus has given us the power of resurrection to revive anything that is dead in our Lives, Homes, Churches, Institutions, Nation and the World in general.
It is time for our leaders to demonstrate the fear of God and consult Him on the affairs of the nation.
The Economic situation of this country still calls for concern and we make this passionate appeal to the government to look critically and decisively into our economy, we believe things can be done better than they are now.
The injection of $370.9 million into the inter-bank Forex mart in the last week of February led to a rally by the battered national currency and raised hopes of better days ahead. Firming up the currency and on a sustainable basis is the major task ahead for the CBN and the federal economic team. Naira’s rally has come as a soothing, balm to the harried business community and Nigerians confronted with rising costs and general economic adversity. A four-day streak saw the Naira exchanging at N455 to the US$1 at the parallel market on March 8, down from the alarming N535 to the dollar in February ending. Months of clamour and distress had prompted the CBN to act once more to intervene in the market. For an import-dependent and mono export economy, the plunge of the Naira since it was devalued officially in 2016 has been devastating. The federal government needs to work closely with the CBN to raise reserves whose recent rise to $31 billion provided the muscle to defend the Naira. But this should be temporary. Apart from planned new foreign currency-denominated bond flotation and asset sales, the government should heed long standing advice to privatize and liberate the steel, downstream oil and gas and railway sectors to draw in foreign direct investment, boost exports and reduce the huge import bill. Higher import duties should be imposed on luxury items and some food, cosmetics and household products to protect and boost domestic production and create jobs.
Proliferation of illegal weapons: No doubt, the proliferation of arms and ammunition in Nigeria is real and it is a scourge which the federal government of Nigeria must fight to pull the country from the precipice of danger. Infact, using the most sophisticated weapons, has become such a menace to the extent that some state governments have passed laws to impose death sentence on perpetrators. The magnitude of the influx of illegal; arms into the country frightening and certainly explains the on going insecurity of lives and property in Nigeria.
Indeed illegal arms have led to the rising rate of criminality and Nigerians are all endangered. Government should find lasting solutions and go beyond the routine to stamp out illegal arms in the country. Government must be serious about border patrol and ensure that the Nations porous borders air, sea and land are well manned by patriotic conscientious and ethical officials. The legal dealers should be tracked to ensure that arms do not get into the wrong hands. Also, government should audit licensed gun holders and encourage those who are possessing unregistered arms to declare them within a specified period. The military should be sterner in monitoring their men, especially those fighting insurgency and on peace-keeping operations in order to ensure full compliance with military ethics.
Cleansing Corrupt Bureaucracy
Our country Nigeria is not the only country grappling with public service corruption, it is only distinguished by its lack of political will to crush it. The government of India, in response to 2012 finding that corruption was pervasive in its bureaucracy, launched a crackdown that has sent many to jail. But here, those who facilitate payment of tens of thousands fictitious workers, pad budgets, steal pensioners’ stipends and amass unaccounted for wealth, walk free, exploiting the corrupt judiciary to evade justice.
A new culture of accountability should replace the prevailing reign of impurity and sleaze. A major component of the war on corruption should be cleaning up of the civil service, whose operatives remain in place to build or ruin amid the endless flowing stream of political office holders. The Financial Intelligence Bill that has been curiously stalled in the federal legislature should be passed into law to assist in acquiring legal teeth to help financial intelligence and follow the money trail the country. The most critical assignment before the present government is how to institutionalize the war on corruption through public sector finance reforms.
Xenophobic Attack on Nigerians
It is a tragedy that the spate of xenophobic attacks by South Africans on fellow Africans continued to bare its fangs with more ferocity. Despite international outrage xenophobic attacks have continued. Certainly government of Nigeria needs to look beyond verbal darts and move from rhetoric to reality checks or actions that can defuse tension on all fronts.
It is obvious that government officials hardly see poor governance at the core of the current challenge. For instance, in Nigeria, does it worry the leaders that the citizens of the “largest economy” in Africa are being forced to search for opportunities in South Africa a country infamous for one of the highest rates of unemployment in the world. The failure of governance to create an inclusive economy in Nigeria should be blamed therefore for the fate of Nigerian economic migrants to South Africa, among other countries from where they are being daily deported. Welfare and security of the citizens must be primary purpose of government.
As we celebrate the Easter, let us for the sake of God Almighty and our fatherland accede to the principles for which Christ died, rose and ascended. The victory of Easter should lead us to face the perplexities of life with fortitude holding up our banner with the assurance that because He lives, we too shall live. And it shall be well with our souls. We must remain resolute in our prayers for genuine love and unity in our country.
I wish all Nigerians happy and peaceful Easter celebrations.
The Most Rev. Dr. E. Adebola Ademowo OON
Diocesan Bishop of Lagos and Dean Emeritus,
Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)