As Christians across the country get set to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas day, the Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev Alfred Adewale Martins, wants them to remember those in captivity and unable to enjoy the freedom of being with their families.
Archbishop Martins, in a Press Release signed by the Acting Director of Social Communications, Rev Fr Anthony Godonu, singled out the plight of Leah Sharibu, a young Christian girl who has remained, for over two years, in the hands of her Boko Haram abductors, saying her continuous incarceration remains a sore point in the celebration of the yuletide.
While calling on all Nigerians to remember her as well as others who are in captivity, either of Boko Haram or kidnappers in their prayers, he implored President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently work on fulfilling his promise of effecting the release of the young Leah Sharibu so that she can be reunited with her family and loved ones as soon as possible.
“It is very sad that Leah Sharibu is still in detention for over two years for the single reason that she refused to jettison her Christian faith. It is a thing of pain, not only for her parents but for most people especially because of the values she represents: loyalty to faith, dependability, focus and maturity. It leaves a sour taste in the mouth and a dark mark on the celebration when one realizes that she may not be able to join her family to celebrate Christmas again this year. All people of goodwill must keep on insisting that this girl must not be forgotten, we must continue to put her matter on the front burner. Our government must never forget that until she is released, the whole country is on tenterhooks. I want to appeal to the President, in particular, to do all he can to bring back Leah so that she can be reunited with her family once again.”
On the the issue of a perceived agenda for the Islamization of the country, Archbishop Martins, argues that the onus is on government to disabuse the minds of people if there is indeed no such agenda.
“The allegation that there is an agenda for the Islamization of Nigeria that is being played out by the present administration, has been a recurring one for a while now. Government officials have always denied this and have even gone further to say it is not possible. However, the truth of the matter is that some actions and appointments of government as well as utterances of some government officials leave people with the impression that there is some truth in the allegation. It therefore behoves government to disabuse the minds of the people not just by words but by clear actions to reassure Nigerians. For instance, if the head of the National Assembly, the Judiciary and the Executive are all of the same religion, it makes people nervous especially since the balance that we have experienced in past governments seems to have been jettisoned. If you couple that with the statement credited to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, the head of the Judiciary, that the
constitution of the country should be amended to so that more elements of the sharia law can be included, one cannot but conclude that indeed there is an Islamization agenda. That becomes more worrisome when the argument is based on the presumption that the greater population of Nigeria is Muslim. If that is coming from the CJN who knows that Nigeria by constitution is a secular state, it is not surprising that the idea of an Islamization agenda resurfaces with more force. If the heads of military, para-military and other powerful/influential government institutions are skewed in such a way that it is manifestly in favor of one religion, it is only to be expected that people of other religions and other fair-minded people would be concerned”.
Archbishop Martins urged President Buhari, in the coming year 2020, to work towards clearing the concerns of all Nigerians, most especially of Christians, by taking actions and decisions that give everyone a sense of belonging. Such a disposition and direction of action will allow him to leave a legacy of uniting the country rather than the division that is so palpable in our country now.
While wishing Nigerians a merry Christmas, he urged them to be hopeful and never to despair because of the hardships that are being experienced all over the nation. We should remain positive and never slack in our prayers knowing that God will never turn His back on them. He challenged Nigerians to also reach out to the poor and the needy and share what they have with them so as to share the joy of Christmas with everyone.