…I’ll keep fighting for humanity till I die, says Obasanjo
…We must put aside religious, ethnic chauvinism – Osinbajo
…Tone down your criticism of political leaders, Okorocha tells pastors
By Luminous Jannamike, ABUJA
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Senator Rochas Okorocha, Emeritus Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, and Mummy Esther Ajayi, were among the prominent Nigerians who received awards at the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Sapphire awards that held in Abuja, weekend.
Others, including Governor Nyesom Wike, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie and Chief Arthur Eze also received awards at the event; while the kidnapped Dapchi school, Leah Sharibu, won in the Young Christian Achiever award category.
The CAN President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, said that the award was instituted to celebrate men and women who had contributed to the growth of the church in Nigeria and humanity in general since the inception of the apex Christian body in 1976.
“The award is a catalyst that is expected to reinforce awardees to serve humanity more and more. It is a subtle way of telling them that they should be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in good work. For as much as we know, your labour is not in vain,” he said.
Obasanjo, who was represented by the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, was the special guest of honour at the awards.
Obasanjo said that the award was significant in that it would encourage other citizens to serve humanity, adding “I will continue to do the best I can to uphold the principles of justice, love, equity, mutual respect, industry and the fear of God which epitomise the church of Christ until there’s no breath left in me.”
While showing appreciation to CAN on behalf of all the award recipients, VP Osinbajo said Nigerians needed to be more tolerant of other people’s views.
He said, “As we have seen in the past few years, there’s a growing ethnic and religious chauvinism, and almost intemperate, vehement and violent dismissal of the views of people of other persuasions and faith without adequate consideration.
“At the same time, there is also the rise of cultural and identity politics. The answer to hate and intolerance and conflicts is the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must believe enough in it, to live it out as our article of faith.
“The gospel commands consideration of the views of others, treating them we would wish to be treated. Our words must be of grace, seasoned with salt.
“We must remain constant and relentless advocates of freedom of worship, respect for human rights, fairness, justice, rule of law because they are fundamental to peace and security. We cannot talk of peace and security without fairness and justice, and compliance with the rule of law.”
Earlier, Senator Okorocha who noted the dire financial condition of the umbrella Christian organisation in the country advised clerics to tone down their criticism of those in authority.
He said, “I just want to caution some Christian pastors concerning the way we use our pulpit and the kind of fire of insults and abuses that comes from there. When you abuse those who will give you money where will you get the money.
“The Bible says to pray for those in authority. You need to draw your leaders close. When you draw us closer and tell us what your problems are, it will energise us to help. Money will flow more than you need.”