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Christians Renew Faith As World Celebrates Christmas

Christmas trees have been lit and decorations adorn homes and streets as families celebrate Christmas today to mark the birth of Jesus Christ. Christians in…

Christmas trees have been lit and decorations adorn homes and streets as families celebrate Christmas today to mark the birth of Jesus Christ.

Christians in Nigeria have joined other faithful across the world today to celebrate Christmas as they renew their faith in Jesus Christ.

Christmas is a period of spiritual rebirth for many who use the period for prayers and other spiritual activities.

In Makurdi, Benue State capital, Adakole Joseph told Daily Trust on Sunday that Christmas was a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ whose humility showed the practical love of God for mankind that should be exhibited by Christians to all mankind, adding that it was also an opportunity for charity, kindness, reunion and fresh beginning.

He said, “I’ll use the period to meet with many family members and friends, as well as renew my faith, because it is at the end of the year. It presents the opportunity of distant family members and friends to meet, reconnect and possibly settle lots of differences. As we all warm up for a new year, it also gives all Christians opportunity to have their faith and position with Almighty God renewed since Christ is the reason for the celebration.”

Another resident, Veronica Inalegwu, said Christmas bring friends and family members together in merriment.

Inalegwu added, “Most people usually use the period to celebrate while forgetting its spiritual aspect. I’m expecting this Christmas to be a celebration full of love, peace and financial aid.”

A Lagos-based chartered accountant, Kehinde Ajibola, said, “This Christmas is special for me as I will be going to the village with my husband to spend time with my in-laws. It is the first time that we will be visiting them after our wedding. So, I am happy. For me, Christmas is a celebration of family.”

A journalist in Bauchi, Ishola Adeyemi, said, “I intend to celebrate the Christmas while reflecting on the virtues of Jesus Christ. I will sit down with my family to have a review of the activities between Christmas in 2021 and now. I will try to answer the question of how far I have been able to go and plan for the year, 2023.”

He added that, “Considering the economic and other situations in the country, I intend to go low key; not spending beyond my savings, knowing fully well that schools will resume in January, 2023, and fees must be paid.”

In Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, our correspondent observed on Friday at the Idongesit Nkanga State Secretariat on Abak Road a beehive of activities. Trucks were seen being offloaded of bags of rice and chickens and other food items being distributed.

Our correspondent reports that the distribution of rice and chicken to civil servants during Christmas is an annual ritual of the state government and other state governments in the country.

Daily Trust on Sunday observed Christmas decorations along major roads, junctions, among several other places in Uyo.

Parties or get-togethers were also being organized. One such was a party hosted by the University of Uyo Women’s Association (UWA) to celebrate children.

The staff of a paramilitary organisation in Uyo, Mrs Eme Ukpabio, said, “Christmas is a season when Christians all over the world commemorate the birth of the Messiah; a period where gifts and visits are exchanged.”

A Christ Apostolic Church pastor’s wife said, “We will begin with a church service, assorted types of delicacies will be prepared. “After eating, my family will drive round town and go to places of interest out of town. The Christmas village is a place of choice place.”

Season of giving

Meanwhile, clerics have urged Christians to imbibe the virtues of thanksgiving, giving and love during Christmas, noting that the period was beyond eating and drinking.

Pastor Emmanuel Oluwagbemi of the Gospel Faith Mission International, Abuja, said Christians should prioritise the celebrant, Jesus Christ, more than the celebration, stressing that Christmas was beyond merriment.

He said, “Christmas is a celebration of when divinity comes in the form of man to save the world from sin. Jesus was born to be a ransom for our sin. He came to save the world from sin, to deliver us from sin and transform us to be sons and daughters of God.”

While enumerating that it is a period of renewal of faith and dedication to God, Pastor Oluwagbemi urged Christians to show love by giving to others during the period.

He advised families not to put themselves under pressure because of the economic situation, stressing that, “There will always be many Christmases to celebrate.”

The spokesperson of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Olaitan Olubiyi, said Christmas was a reflection of God’s love to mankind.

He said, “The implication is that there is liberty for us to relate with God in a healthy manner.”

The President of Network of African Christian Journalists (NACJ), Dr Bola Adewara, said the essence of Christmas was about the birth of Jesus Christ. While noting that Jesus didn’t ask for the celebration of his birth, he said Christmas offered an opportunity to remember and appreciate what he did.

Brisk business despite economic crunch

Despite the economic crunch, petty traders are recording brisk business during the yuletide.

Daily Trust on Sunday reports that traders selling children’s clothes and toys are the most patronised in markets across the country.

At the Idumota Market in Lagos, parents were seen visiting shops to buy items for the celebration.

A shop proprietor in Oshodi, Mrs Abimbola Oyeniy, said, “Although things are expensive, parents will always get clothes, decorations and toys for their children during Christmas and New Year celebrations. We are making sales. They only complain that the prices are high, but we can’t sell below the cost prices.”

A trader selling children’s clothes and toys at the Wunti Market in Bauchi, Idris Sa’id, noted that the business was going smoothly with good sales except complaints by customers about high cost of commodities.

He said, “Many people are trooping into the market to buy for the festivities. We are grateful to God for the patronage because workers are yet to receive their salary for the month, but the sales have improved in the past three days. People are buying things for their children and relatives to be given as gifts to celebrate the season. We expect the patronage to increase when salaries are paid.”

A vegetable seller at the market, Usman Muhammad, told Daily Trust on Sunday that, “The number of customers has increased in the last two days and we are making good sales.

“Although there are increases in the prices of vegetables, they have not affected sales because people are buying in bulk to celebrate the Christmas with their families. We thank God for this period.”

Another trader, Muhammed Surajo, said, “The patronage is high and people are coming to buy vegetables and other essential commodities for Christmas. We are happy with the level of sales.”

He however, said, “One good thing that makes us enjoy the season is that the prices of some commodities have dropped. Pepper which was sold for N23,000 per bag weeks ago has come down to N14,000. The decrease has helped to stimulate patronage and people are buying it to celebrate the season.

Buhari says better dawn awaits Nigeria

President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that those who seek to violently disrupt the peace of Nigeria have lost the battle, saying a better dawn awaits Nigeria in 2023 and beyond.

The president, in his 2022 Christmas message, said, “Let the peace and joy that pervade this period continue well into the New Year up to the elections in February and beyond.

“I want to assure Nigerians that those who seek to violently disrupt the peace of our nation have lost the battle.

“Our country is blessed with wealth of human and material resources. Let’s celebrate our blessings this season with the trust that a better dawn awaits Nigeria.”

While wishing all citizens a merry Christmas, Buhari enjoined Nigerians to continue to celebrate Christmas as a united people, showing genuine love, care, compassion and empathy for one another.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, also felicitated with Christians in Nigeria as they joined others across the world in celebrating Christmas.

Lawan, in a statement by his media aide, Ola Awoniyi, enjoined Christians to spread the message of love, peace, hope and tolerance which Jesus Christ preached by example.

Also, a former Senate President, David Mark, canvassed for religious harmony among various groups, saying that peaceful coexistence was needed for development to take place.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, in a message by his spokesman, Lanre Lasisi, rejoiced with Christians and urged them to use the period for sober reflection and re-dedication to the teachings and way of Jesus Christ.

On his part, a former Vice President of Nigeria and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, urged Nigerians to remain steadfast in prayer for a divine intervention in the affairs of the country.

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has assured that despite the myriad of challenges facing the country, the nation would overcome as God had not forsaken the country.

CAN President, Archbishop Daniel C. Okoh, who disclosed this yesterday in his Christmas message, said the global celebration of Christmas was a reminder of the unfailing and never-ending love of God for the people.

He said, “Religious and political leaders, as well as the media, should use this Christmas season to reinforce the hope of the masses in a better, more peaceful and secure Nigeria come 2023.”

Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, through his spokesman, Dr Makut Macham, tasked Christian leaders to mobilise their members to participate in political processes in the country.

Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa urged Christians in the state and across the globe to see Christmas as a period to show love and practice sacrificial giving.

Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, through his Chief Press Secretary, Mary Noel-Berje, said love, compassion, sacrifice, selflessness and forgiveness should be the hallmarks of Christmas celebration.

Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, said the Christmas season signified the coming of hope for mankind and urged citizens to remain positive always as the future was bright, disclosed his Chief Press Secretary, Onogwu Muhammed.

 

From Abiodun Alade (Lagos), Hope Abah Emmanuel (Makurdi), Hassan Ibrahim (Bauchi) & Iniabasi Umo (Uyo), Muideen Olaniyi, Abdullateef Salau, Itodo Daniel Sule, Abbas Jimoh, Baba Martins (Abuja); Bassey Willie (Yenagoa); Abubakar Akote (Minna) & Tijani Labaran (Lokoja)

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