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Christmas: Preach Love, Pray for Divine Guidance on Leadership, Nigerians Urged

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Nigerians across the nation have been urged to show love and embrace forgiveness and reconciliation during the Yuletide season, in line with the spirit of Christmas. They were also enjoined to seek divine guidance in choosing the right leaders for the country during the coming polls in 2023.

This was the message at the 2022 Christmas concert held at the Catholic Church of the Assumption, Falomo, Ikoyi, Lagos at the weekend. The concert was held to mark a triple celebration of 10 years of Episcopal Enthronement of Archbishop Alfred Martins, 10 years of Anthony Cardinal Okogie as Emeritus Archbishop, and 60+2 Years of the Catholic Church of the Assumption-Falomo parish.

Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos, Most Rev. Dr. Alfred Martins, in his message at the concert said, “We are here today to celebrate a Christmas concert, the 62nd anniversary of the parish and the 10th anniversary of my predecessor’s retirement and of my assumption of office, so this makes this celebration unique.”

As the country moves into the election year 2023, Archbishop Martins said, “Certainly one thing that we must all do, all Christians and indeed all people of goodwill, is to pray for guidance in choosing the right leaders to lead us at different levels. Our situation in the country is such that without the help of God, we certainly are incapable of doing it by ourselves.”

He insisted that “citizens should deliberately listen keenly and with a critical mind to what politicians have to say and, even seek to know what is behind whatever it is they are saying. We must try and discern it because we need to really be well informed in order to be able to choose the right persons to lead us at this critical time of the country.”

He also called for full participation in the electoral process, getting one’s voter’s card while urging INEC to ensure that the cards are well distributed to ensure that Nigerians carry out their civic duties in this regard.

Looking at the security situation of the country, Archbishop Martins said “we charge President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure the assurances given in regards to the election to be free and fair without interference. We hope that he will ensure that happens by making sure that the security agencies are thoroughly prepared and that they carry out their duties without any fear or favour.

“Also, the politicians themselves should recognise that if they throw up chaos, it is not going to affect the people alone; it will also affect them and their chances. It will affect the well-being of the nation, and therefore all of us just need to be equitable in our perspective,” the cleric added.

The Catholic Church of the Assumption Parish Priest, Very Rev. Fr. Francis Ike added that “today is all about the spirit of Christmas, a time to listen, sing, reflect, pray and sit back and share pleasantries and relax.”

He pointed out that the concert gathering is not just a carol but much more than a carol, calling for love and peace to reign in the country. He explained that “we should build a country where we see one another as brothers and sisters, where someone from the north can relate freely with someone from the south, and someone from the east can also relate freely with a person from the West.”

The Christmas concert committee chair, Dame Marie Fatayi-Williams stated that “usually, we do a Christmas carol in the church, but this year we have three major celebrations, as the Catholic Church of Assumption Falomo parish, Lagos clocks 62 years.

“We are also privileged to be able to celebrate 10 years of Episcopal Enthronement of Archbishop Alfred Martins, and 10 years of Anthony Cardinal Okogie as Emeritus Archbishop,” she added.

Dame Fatayi-Williams noted that the Parish could not celebrate its 60th anniversary due to COVID-19 pandemic. According to her, “Jesus Christ is the reason for the season, urging us to leave no one behind but to recognise our interconnectedness in the love of God, love of man and love of creation.”

Going into the New Year, Fatayi-Williams said “we are going into an election year and we should seek for reconciliation, forgiveness and peace. Those are the messages that will be forever preached.”

She explained that “we can restore peace and harmony back by embarking on actions of simple lifestyle changes as a family both at home and in the church to restore harmony to creation. We can all go ‘green’ by giving someone a tree seedling as a gift, and planting more trees to celebrate Christmas and other landmarks.”

She further called for the reuse and recycling of plastic, proper disposal of refuse, energy conservation and avoiding indiscriminate dumping of waste, saying that, “We as a family and parish resolve to sign up to the Laudato Si Action Platform (LSAP) to save the planet -the Earth- our Common Home”

A lot of performances featured at the Christmas concert. These included a glorious performance by Francesca Chiejina, a Nigerian-American classical and opera singer, the host choir, the Sanctuary choir of Ikoyi Baptist church, the Elites Chorale, the Playhouse Voices amongst other parish groups rendering glorious compositions to praise the King of Kings.

Then Archbishop Adewale Martins concluded by saying “This has been a fantastic evening and only Jesus could have made this possible” He then prayed over, blessed and turned on the lights to the imposing Christmas Tree.

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Morning after 25th February 2023 Presidential Election: A Qualitative Trend Analysis by Iyorwuese Hagher

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It is morning on 26th February 2023 in Nigeria. The previous day, the nation stood still, as voters queued at their polling stations to exercise their civic duties to elect Nigerian’s next President. With the new BVAS, the voting, collating and transmission of votes were concluded speedily. The political parties were in their situation rooms, watching throughout the night with deep skepticism the INEC portal and news rooms. In Abuja as in all the thirty six states, Nigerians stayed awake, glued to their Televisions sets, and hand-held devices. Politicians hardly make good historians. They had learnt nothing and forgotten nothing!
The citizens await the results in fear. They are rightly afraid that electing a wrong party, and wrong candidate would push Nigeria over the cliff to total collapse as a failed state where there is no government, and war-lords divide the country, and inflict on the hapless citizens the reign of unmitigated terror.

But outside the homes, on the streets, in the inner cites, and the suburbs, the social media had finished tallying the votes and a winner had emerged. The _Obidients_ began to celebrate the victory of Mr. Peter Obi whom the social media gave the winning votes 55,850,000 or 60% of total votes cast, winning in 20 states while Atiku Abubakar came second 23,250,000 or 25% of votes cast and winning in 10 states. The social media relegated Bola Ahmed Tinubu to the third position, winning in six states with 13,950,000 and 15% of total votes cast. In their results, all 93 million registered voters had cast their votes! The _Obidients_ denounced any announcement by INEC which was contrary to their released results. They threatened mayhem and bedlam if another “rigged” result was announced. The celebration by the _Obidients_ was short-lived, for soon enough, the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, addressed the Nation at 7am.

In his address, he discloses that only about 40% of registered voters had cast their votes the previous day. This is higher than in 2019 when only 31% of registered voters voted. The INEC Chairman has declared the Presidential Candidate of the PDP, Alh. Atiku Abubakar, as the winner of the Presidential Election 2023 with a total of 18,721,167 popular votes, which was 52.3% of total votes and won in 19 states and the FCT. Bola Ahmed Tinubu of APC, came second with 15,692,950 popular votes being 30% of total votes cast and won in ten states. Peter Obi of the Labour Party has scored 9,367,481 popular votes, and scored 18% of total votes cast and won in six states. This is the final verdict having the imprimatur of the INEC Chairman.

In Jagaban’s Campaign Headquarters, there is deep silence and mourning. The people are whispering and urging his doctor and his wife to wake him up to address his supporters on the next line of action. He had been sedated earlier, to calm him and curb his propensity to tantrums and bellicosity. After more than 15 minutes argument with his wife and doctor, the Jagaban agrees to address the press. Many of his supporters are gathered in his situation room at Maitama Abuja, where he has spent the last 24 hours, sleepless, monitoring the Presidential Election and its results. The supporters were caps bearing his insignia of snake devouring its tail, a cultic symbol of infinity. The defeat highlights the irony of the infinity, as cyclical failure. The Jagaban is assisted to the podium and as he faces the barrage of microphones and cameras from different news outlets; the nation holds its breath. He had declared at the beginning of his ambition that the nation owed him his life ambition to be President. He had announced that it was his turn now, “Emi lokan”, no matter whose ox was gored. Nigerians now wait in trepidation and hope that he would do the right thing telling his supporters that Nigerians have spoken.

But the Jagaban does no such thing. He looks left and right, then stares ominously into the cameras and microphones. He coughs in his clenches fist and says: “Tell Buhari he has done his worst. I don’t forgive traitors. Tell the hackers from Russia they are refuse dumps. It is my turn. ‘Emi lokan, Emi lokan’. It is my money”.

He glowers at his aides and yells, “Tell all my supporters this revolution has just started”. He defiantly walks past his wife, and his running-mate, and intentionally pushes away his Campaign Director General. He slowly, ambles away like an enormous crocodile that has been denied its meal. With his head held high and his eyes blazing like hot embers, the Jagaban mutters, in murderous rage, to himself: “It’s a Revolution”. It is at this point that his security guards escort him to his campaign war-room.

At Atiku Abubakar’s Campaign Headquarters, (AACO) scores of thousands of supporters have taken over the building and the adjoining streets in Wuse II, Abuja. Different bands are blaring Atikulated and Okowalated songs. Atiku Abubakar’s face is passive, enigmatic, and bland. His age-old emotional shock-absorbers have kicked in to prevent the exultant emotions from overflowing, even at triumphant moment of sweet victory. He becomes excited when Peter Obi calls to concede defeat and offer his congratulations. He welcomes him as a long-lost brother, saying: “My brother this victory is also your victory. It is Nigeria’s victory my brother, it is time to rebuild the nation”.

Senator Bukola Saraki, and Governor Aminu Tambuwal follow, as the PDP National Chairman, Sen. (Dr.) Iyorchia Ayu, leads the president-elect to the 5th floor, of the Command and Control Centre, which had been set up in anticipation of this victory acceptance speech.
The World Media awaits with intensity, to hear this acceptance speech of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar. It is the moment the world has waited for. The return of the PDP in a free election in Nigeria, is proof of the stability and elasticity of Nigeria’s democracy when the ruling party is defeated again. The world sees a rejuvenated Atiku, confident and smiling now. He says, in a presidential voice, he owes his victory to God Almighty, and thanks all the Nigerian voters who had turned up in an unprecedented manner to exercise their civic rights. He especially thanks those who voted for the other candidates. He promises them that he would also be their president. It is time now to heal the wounds of division and to build the bridges of Nigeria’s diversity. He thanks his fellow contestants and tells the world that the problems of the country are such that no individual, nor party has all the solutions. He is going to run a government of National Unity, where there will be political inclusiveness. “Winner takes all has been Un-African and undemocratic,” he assures. He acknowledges the telephone call from Peter Obi, Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso, and the other presidential candidates. He thanks his Campaign Council and promises the nation that his victory is the new beginning Nigerians have been waiting for and that he would not fail them. He also thanks President Buhari whom he called “the father of Electoral Integrity in Nigeria” and calls on history to be kind to him for his legacy in electoral reforms.

Outside on the streets in Lagos, Osun, and Imo states, INEC offices are up in flames as thousands of demonstrators set up barricades and armed bandits take over; looting, maiming and instilling fear in the citizenry, with sinister cries of “Revolution”. Nigerians are afraid. Politicians disguise themselves and frantically begin to explore exit routes to just anywhere else! Nigerians stay in their homes, throughout 26th February. There is fear everywhere.

It is now the turn of President Buhari to address the nation. He makes a passionate plea to the candidates to call their supporters to order. He says, “elections are not wars” and that “no person’s ambition is worth anybody’s life”. He consequently orders the military to clear the streets, and end the destruction of life and property. He calls on the governors to impose curfews in those states where violence has broken out. The President pleads with Nigerians, especially those that did not win, to accept the rules of the game, and the verdict of INEC. The military pulls out its tanks into the streets as evening wears out. Sirens and gunfire are heard as the “day after” comes to an end. END OF SCENARIO.

The above scenario, painted on the backdrop of qualitative futuristic canvas, is perhaps the best prediction of the coming Presidential Election. It is the most consequential election that Nigerians will hold, to pull their country from eight years of APC misrule when all NIgeria’s fault lines, became wide cracks, and threatened to suck us into our worst national fear. All Nigerians are afraid that their country might become a critically failed state, a giant Afghanistan in the centre of Africa. If the Jagaban wins instead of Atiku, Nigeria’s religious divide will become an open chasm. Just like the Kaduna Muslim-Muslim experiment has been an open wound of terrorism and religious extremism, a Jagaban President will, people fear, become the gloating of Islam over Christianity, and the Nigerian exceptionalism in managing the delicate balance between Christianity and Islam would be lost forever. A full scale religious war would be expected such as John Campbell had earlier predicted in 2011. If the Jagaban wins, the lopsided electoral votes of the South-West and North-West, would now become a permanent relay of power as one North-Western Zone President would deftly hand over to the South-Western Zone President. All other four zones would be excluded in the bare-faced disregard of the zones created specifically for power sharing. A Jagaban victory would be a dreadful and grotesque power grab of money politics that is blind to disability, incapacity and shameful character flaws. The Jagaban phenomenon represents the emergence of a demagogue, whose politics is a horrific politician’s politics, where power is privatized and appropriated to serve private interests. Electing the Jagaban, is to elect the Nigerian version of a doting Paul Biya, where arbitrary power is exercised by a corrupt coterie, and democracy is lost forever! Atiku Abubakar’s victory on the other hand should be regarded as victory for Nigeria and the reality of zoning. There is justice and equity in the North-East zone producing the next president. The South-East should be expectant next. It is unhelpful when sabre-rattling governors talk about the North-South dichotomy and cry about equity and justice. They are merely being self-serving within their convoluted colonial mentality. Equity is no longer a matter of North and South. It is zonal, where power is zoned rotated among the six geographical and political zones. With all the mud, dung, and grime that had been flung at Atiku Abubakar during the campaign period by opponents, it is my hope that Nigerians will now see the real Atiku, as an underprivileged peasant boy, whose grass to grace story, inspires the next great Nigerian generation. Atiku as Vice-President and consummate politician has capacity, ability and vision deserving of victory. With Atiku as President we can advance democratic multi-culturalism to confront sectarian fundamentalism, because he is cosmopolitan and not a hero of locality nor ethnic bigot. The PDP through Atiku has learnt its lesson. It is not seeking to conquer power as the APC, but rather to transform it to give the citizens rights that the APC government eroded and left Nigerians, poorer, uneducated, unprotected, afraid, and deeply insecure.Atiku is well aware that politics is for the strong, who must endure stupid criticism, and judgment from very annoying characters like the corruption embattered former Minister of Aviation, and some disgruntled governors within his party. He is under-girded with a solid stoic personality, whose mien is unperturbed by stupid things, silly things, aggressive things of people’s perceptions of him. This is the time! This is his time! Finally, Atiku must engage in serious nation building, manage change, and the constantly changing Nigerian environment. He must intentionally seek better ways of making Nigeria great by advancing growth, equity, inclusiveness, peace, compassion and integrity.

Prof Iyorwuese Hagher

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Winners Get Glo Festival of Joy Promo Prizes in Onitsha

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Several lucky and loyal Glo subscribers in Onitsha, Anambra State, were on Tuesday presented with various prizes, including a brand new car in the company’s ongoing Festival of Joy promo.
The car was won by a 30-year-old Construction Technician, Chukwuemeka Chikezie. Many other Nigerians also went home with different prizes such as power generating sets, sewing machines and rechargeable fans.
Chikezie, who was impaired in his left arm from a job related accident he had in 2019, disclosed that when he was called the previous day following the draws, he was working on a project in Enugu, far away from his Onitsha base. Despite that, he found it difficult that he could become an instant car winner just like that.
Till he got the keys to the car on Wednesday at an elaborate ceremony held at the Gloworld premises at Conoil station, Onitsha Bridgehead, Chikezie was hesitant to believe he had become a car owner.
“If anyone had told me yesterday that I would be a car owner today, I would never have believed”, he said, adding that “I love the Glo network very well and I have always depended on it for my calls and data needs”.
Hon. (Mrs) Beverly Ikpeazu-Nkemdiche, representing Onitsha South 2 Constituency, Anambra State House of Assembly, disclosed that her first number upon returning to Nigeria some years ago, was a Glo number. She commended Globacom for its support to its subscribers through the life changing prizes in the promo.
Representative of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), Mr Ezelue Nnamdi, said the Commission was happy with Globacom for its transparency in the conduct of the promo draws and the presentation of prizes to winner.
The Transition Chairman, Onitsha South Local Govt Area, Anambra State, Hon. Emeka Orji, expressed happiness that the event was held within his jurisdiction. He commended Globacom for putting the promo in place.

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We’re Not ‘Officially Aware’ of Anyone Working Against Tinubu’s Victory – FG

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The Federal Government, on Wednesday, said it was not “officially aware” of any entity in the Presidential Villa working against the victory of the All Progressives Congress’ flag bearer, Bola Tinubu. It also said that President, Muhammadu Buhari was neither favouring nor disfavouring any presidential candidate ahead of the February 25 election.

“If there’s anybody who is working against any candidate, we don’t know officially,” the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, told State House Correspondents after this week’s Federal Executive Council meeting chaired by the President at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

The Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, alleged that some “elements” in Aso Rock are working against Tinubu’s emergence as President.

El-Rufai, who spoke on a Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, explained that the persons in question were aggrieved that Tinubu defeated their candidate in the June 2022 APC presidential primary.

He cited the naira redesign policy as one of several schemes targeted at the APC presidential candidate, Tinubu, who also made a similar claim a week earlier.

According to El-Rufai, “I believe there are elements in the Villa that want us to lose the election because they didn’t get their way; they had their candidate. Their candidate did not win the primaries.

“They are trying to get us to lose the election, and they are hiding behind the President’s desire to do what he thinks is right. I will give two examples: this petroleum subsidy, which is costing the country trillions of Naira, was something that we all agreed would be removed.

“In fact, I discussed with the President and showed him why it had to go. Because how can you have a capital budget of N200b for federal roads and then spend N2 Trillion on petroleum subsidy? This was a conversation I had with the President in 2021 when the subsidy thing started rising. He was convinced. We left. It changed. Everyone in the government agreed, and it changed.

“The second example I will give is this currency redesign. You have to understand the President. People are blaming the Governor of the Central Bank for the currency redesign, but No. You have to go back and look at the first outing of Buhari as President.

“He did this; the Buhari-Idiagbon regime changed our currency and did it in secrecy with a view to catching those that are stashing away illicit funds. It is a very good intention. The President has his right. But doing it at this time within the allotted time does not make any political or economic sense.”

But fielding a question on the issue on Wednesday, Mohammed argued that the Buhari-led government has been fair to all candidates regardless of party affiliations.

He said, “On a more serious note, one thing I can assure you is that, no matter who, this administration is focused and determined to ensure a free and fair election. And I think this administration, and for that matter now, the most important person in this regard is Mr. President.

“I think he has shown by words and deed that he is committed to a free, fair and credible election. And fair, free and credible elections mean not favouring or disfavouring anybody.

“Everywhere he goes, he makes that very clear, even as recently as Friday, when he was in Daura. He said the same thing. So if there’s anybody who’s working against any candidate, we don’t know officially.”

Speaking in Ogun State last Wednesday, the APC presidential candidate alleged plans to sabotage the coming election.

Tinubu cited the naira redesign policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the lingering fuel crisis and as part of plots to thwart the polls and his expected victory.

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