‘With sincerity of heart, Nigeria can win the war on terror’

God’s Urgent Call, a non-denominational prayer group based in Enugu, holds its annual camping for the word of God every December. Ozioma Onuzulike, a professor of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and leader of the group, speaks with SEYI JOHN SALAU on the recent peace pact signed by presidential candidates ahead of the 2019 general elections, the war on terror, among other matters of national importance. Excerpts:

The 2018 general elections are upon us. What is your advice to politicians and the electorate?

The advice is that all we do should be done with the fear of God. We should sincerely put God first, then do things right, both the leaders and the led. If the leaders are God-fearing, there will be no vote buying, no rigging, no violence, and there will be no need to promote anything that will disturb the peace.

The presidential candidates were made to sign a peace agreement to ensure non-violence before, during and after the elections. Do you think it is enough just signing this peace agreement?

It is not at all. It is not enough because the heart is deceitful above all things; we want to see it in practice and we want to see it go beyond the presidential candidates signing. We want every other participant in this entire process signing in his or her own heart that it will be peaceful, and they should do that in practice, both in their utterances and action. That way it will not be just signing a piece of paper, which is what it is at the moment. 

The war on insurgency seems to have cost the country a lot in terms of finance, yet we are not getting the result. What are your thoughts?

I see it as all-encompassing – there is no one way to it. From all sides, there is something wrong. On the side of the government, some people have raised questions/issues that have not been answered, putting a question mark on the integrity of those running the war in themselves. Again, from the inside there is a question of sabotage – all of the people waging this war evidently are not all on the same page with same mind, which is why there are some unexplainable invasions, unexplainable victories that crop up from time to time on the side of the enemies. On the side of the Boko Haram, you also find out that they are still determined to push on their religious agenda, which is causing this bloodshed, bringing us again to the saying that “Religion is not salvation”; that people can be religious and still be ready to kill and maim others to maintain their religious belief. But if people are saved, it brings a change a heart that will manifest in their daily activities, and then we will run a country where we will see our brothers as brothers whether in the military or not. For those fighting this battle, because of some divisions among them, sometimes they do not work together for national interest to get needed results because of infighting.

Your group holds the ‘Call of God’ camping annually. What is new this year?

We look unto God for whatever we get along the way. We start the camp and put God ahead and follow as he leads us to go.

You talked about the war of survival for souls in one of your articles. Can you explain further what you mean?

Right from time immemorial the war of survival for people that have been held bondage by the devil has been on, because the mission of Christ is to set the captive free, heal the broken-hearted, and it is truly a war of survival to liberate people. That means people are in bondage and it is in God’s hand to liberate them. The mission of Christ on earth is to set people free from sin, which is prevalent all over the world – disobedience to God’s instructions. That battle to set people free from sin and other satanic activities is a war between good and evil, light and darkness. The consolation is that the power of God is supreme and fighting that war on God’s side shows that you are fighting on the side of victory.

Christmas is very much around the corner. What is the essence of the celebration?

I am not part of the celebration with the way the world is going – it is unbiblical. I have not seen anywhere in the bible where you have Christians celebrating Christmas. From what I find in the bible, the way to remember the birth of Christ is by our daily living. Every day of our lives we celebrate Christ; it is not something we do once a year and it is not by this eating and drinking, rather our daily activities should reflect Christ.

2019: Cleric calls for unity, urges politicians to seek peace

The administrator of Holy Cross Cathedral, Lagos, Marcellinus Teko, has called on Nigerians to stay united ahead of the 2019 general elections.

At the Christmas Carol organised by the Island Club with the theme ‘Carol of unity, good tidings and classical music’ held in Lagos, Teko also urged politicians and political leaders to promote and pursue actions that seek the peace of the country.

“So many people have found various means to promote disunity, especially religion,” Teko said. “A Christmas carol of this nature which is geared towards bringing people together from various denominations and religions shows that we can actually be together as Nigerians. All of us celebrating Christmas should know that our aim is to be united in love and joy which is the spirit of Christmas because that is the spirit of Christ.”

He said the right spirit of leadership can be found in Christ, urging all political leaders to fear God in all they do and be Christ-like in their pursuits.

“Christ is an example of humility, love and service. If that spirit is planted in the hearts of all those who desire to lead us in this country, they will not be doing what they are doing today,” Teko said.

“Different things are being done which is contrary to what leaders are meant to be doing. If those who are aspiring for political offices, especially in the coming election, see Christ as an example, they will be able to lead this country out of the mess we are currently into.

“Our political leaders must be humble and stop the selfish and self-centred motive in order for them to serve the people diligently and with the fear of God. Unity, especially among politicians, is what we need in Nigeria. Let us forsake all our evil ways, do away with hatred, over-ambitiousness and let peace reign in our nation,” he said.

Olabanji Oladapo, the chairman of Island Club, said the carol is a tradition by the club to celebrate all festive seasons irrespective of religion.

“As a club, we celebrate all festivities, whether Muslim or Christian, and this makes us to be more united. We learn from each other as a club; we extend tentacles, network and benefit from each other,” he said.

Olusiji Olowosuko, the carol coordinator, said the carol aims to bring unity among Christians, different denominations and Nigerians as a whole, urging Nigerians should be Christ-like and united.

Expect a peaceful election in 2019, Okoh tells Nigerians

As preparations for the 2019 general elections continue to gather momentum, the Primate Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Nicholas Okoh, has assured Nigerians of peaceful elections come 2019.

Okoh gave this assurance at the 2018 Carnival for Christ and Thanksgiving of the Diocese of Abuja held recently, saying God would see Nigeria through.

“There is huge fear about safety, just like before the last elections when people were terribly afraid. In light of this, we are encouraging our people to trust in God who helped us before now,” said Okoh.

He, however, appealed to Nigerians to make God their refuge, adding that those entertaining fear and so are thinking of relocation ahead of 2019 elections should desist.

“Nigerians should have hope because things are getting better and anybody who believes in God can never lose hope,” he said.

Syrenius Okoriko, the Vicar of Our Saviour’s Anglican Church, Durumi Abuja, said the carnival was a very important event for the church.

Okoriko, who is also the education secretary of the Anglican Girls Grammar School, said the carnival was to celebrate and thank God for all he had done in the outgoing year.

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