As Christians in the country join their counterparts across the world to celebrate Easter today, the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has called on Nigerians to emulate the virtues of forgiveness and self-sacrifice as exhibited by Jesus Christ in order to move the nation forward.
Ekweremadu made the call alongside other personalities including Ministers, Governors and Speakers of States House of Assembly, in various Easter messages and releases sent to THISDAY on Saturday.
The Deputy Senate President, in his message, said recrimination, unforgiveness, and selfishness were major clogs in the nation's wheel of progress. He said: "The Easter celebration is another reminder that forgiveness and self-sacrifice remain indispensable factors in nation-building. I, therefore, call on the Christian faithful and all Nigerians to imbibe Christ's sense of self-sacrifice by putting the nation's interest above personal and other narrow interests.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has felicitated with Christians in the country and Nigerians in general for witnessing another Easter season, urging them to always uphold the virtues of love and sacrifice which are the hallmark of the Easter celebration.
He also congratulated them for the successful completion of the Lenten season, a period of 40 days of fasting and prayer which climaxed in the Easter celebration.
The Minister in his Easter goodwill message, signed by his Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Yinka Oyebode, also called on Nigerians to make ample use of the opportunity of the season for sober reflection.
In his own message, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode called on Nigerians to collectively imbibe the spirit of unity, tolerance and peaceful co-existence as panacea for overcoming the nation's current challenges.
Ambode, in his Easter message to Lagosians, said such fundamental values would go a long way in promoting and strengthening the foundation of love, peace and harmony in the society adding that the season should serve as a reminder to all of the selflessness, love, sacrifice and tolerance of Jesus Christ throughout His earthly sojourn.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Habib Aruna, the Governor said, "Remembering that foundation is particularly meaningful this Easter because our nation is facing challenges that we can overcome if we choose to, by exercising collective tolerance and be ready to make sacrifices."
The Governor of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, in his Easter message, noted that only a total rebirth in national consciousness and values would deliver Nigeria from its many challenges.
Aregbesola said renewal, which a crucial theme in the celebration of Easter, should make Nigerians rediscover themselves for the purpose of their creation in the first place.
The governor, in a statement by the Director, Bureau of Communication and Strategy, Mr. Semiu Okanlawon, also called on all, especially Christians to use the period to supplicate to God on behalf of the country so that Nigeria will be able to come out of the present economic challenges.
Aregbesola, who described Easter as a period of sober reflection, enjoined Nigerians to live in peace and harmony at all times despite the present economic hardship.
Meanwhile, Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, has charged Nigerians not to use their positions to oppress others, but to learn from the Lord Jesus who used his power and position to serve and comfort others.
In his Easter message in Ado-Ekiti weekend, the governor said the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus gave mankind the hope that nothing is beyond the divine power of God. Fayose admonished the people of the state and Nigerians at large to expect a brighter tomorrow, in a message signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Idowu Adelusi.
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State also asked Nigerians to let the lessons of Easter continue to promote peace and harmony among one another. In his message to the people of the state, Ugwuanyi noted that Christians must allow the virtues of humility, dedication, diligence, service and sacrifice as demonstrated by Jesus Christ himself to be their watch-words.
"I urge you to let these virtues to continue to rule your individual lives so that our dear state would continue to gain from the full import of this period of soul-searching and purification in promoting universal brotherhood among our people," he added.
Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, in his Easter message, urged Christians in particular and Nigerians in general to see the Easter period as opportunity to increase their efforts at showing love and promotion of peace among mankind.
The Speaker also urged Nigerians not to relent in cooperating and supporting the All Progressives Congress (APC) governments at centre and state levels in their efforts at putting in place programmes and measures that will enhance and improve the standard of living of Nigerians while also ensuring that they enjoy dividends of democracy even at their doorsteps.
Meanwhile, the National Chairman of the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff, while felicitating with Nigerians on Easter behalf of the National Executive Committee (NEC), urged them to use the occasion to renew the bond of love, forgiveness and peaceful co-existence, irrespective of religious, ethnic and political persuasions.
The party, in a goodwill message issued by the National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh yesterday said such devotion to national unity and harmony is paramount to overcoming the economic, social and security challenges presently confronting the nation.
The party said "just as Easter represents the triumph of life over death, Nigerians can draw strength and inspiration to overcome the division, disagreements and bitterness that now threaten the unity and corporate existence of our dear nation."
Also, a member of the seventh House of Representatives, Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele, has urged Nigerians, particularly the Christians to be fervent in prayers and hope for the best in spite of the parlous economic situation being witnessed at the present time.
Bamidele, in an Easter Message in Ado Ekiti yesterday, urged Nigerians not to despair or be disillusioned with President Muhammadu's Buhari carefully and methodically prosecuted change agenda, saying the situation would soon change for better with dedication and strong will by the Nigerian citizens.
"Our unity is our strongest source of strength as a nation. We must therefore collectively determine to end the bitterness, hostilities and division that keep us apart and seek only the virtues of love, forgiveness, charity and such others that unite us as a people," it said.