CHRISTMAS: APC, PDP clash over state of economy

26th December 2023

  • Samuel Bolaji, Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis, Abdulrahman Zakariyau, Uthman Abubakar, Nathaniel Shaibu, Patrick Odey, Olaide Oyelude, Peter Dada, Tukur Muntari, Godwin Isenyo, Dele Ogunyemi, Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis, Ademola Adegbite and Dirisu Yakubu

As Christians around the world marked Christmas Day on Monday, the ruling All Progressives Congress and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party clashed on the state of the nation and the condition in which Nigerians marked the festive period.

The opposition PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, attacked the APC government led by President Bola Tinubu, saying its policies had plunged the majority of Nigerians into poverty, thus denying the opportunity to enjoy Christmas.

The opposition party also urged Nigerians not to succumb to despondency but to use the occasion and essence of Christmas to offer prayers as well as renew their hope and trust in the divine intervention of God in the affairs of the nation.

PDP said, “The Tinubu-led APC administration has so further mismanaged and wreaked the nation’s economy and social life with its self-serving and oppressive policies such that millions of Nigerians families are economically stranded, socially dislocated and can no longer afford their daily meals and other necessities of life, especially at this festive period.

“Our party is grieved that while families in other climes and nations are celebrating with joy, Nigerians are observing Christmas in hunger and misery because of the anti-people policies of the APC administration.

“The major opposition party charged the National Assembly to be on the side of the people by cutting all provisions for luxury items in the budget and channeling such funds to sectors that have a direct bearing on the wellbeing of Nigerians. “

But in quick response, the APC described the PDP as a disillusioned party seeking recognition.

The National Publicity Director of the APC, Bala Ibrahim, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “I think if anybody is celebrating the Christmas empty, it has to be the PDP. They are the ones running short of credibility and doing all the shouting because of the unprecedented changes coming to Nigeria.”

Ibrahim said contrary to the claim by the PDP that this year’s Christmas was empty for Nigerians, many were able to travel to celebrate Christmas with their loved ones with the discounted transport fare offered by President Tinubu.

“This is to show that the APC government or the Bola Ahmed Tinubu government is determined to renew the hope of Nigerians.

“There was a time under the PDP administration when Nigerians could not celebrate Christmas in their places of domicile. They could not do it because of insecurity. Now that is gradually being put behind and people are regaining their lives and freedom. They are now even encouraged to go home anywhere at half price. Which government has done that in the past?

“Don’t forget there was a time we couldn’t even celebrate without bombs blowing up everywhere from right, front and centre. You remember the first explosion we had was around this time. If not for the unfortunate thing happening in the Middle East between Israel and Gaza, everyone would have been celebrating in a prayerful and sober mood that is reflective of the season.

“But to say Nigerians are hungry or celebrating Christmas on an empty stomach is probably the imagination of the PDP, which is the party celebrating the festivity without credibility.”

The National Chairman of APC, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, in his Christmas goodwill message, urged Nigerians not to lose hope in Tinubu, declaring he has a strong conviction the current administration can steer the country out of its current economic challenges.

In the message signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Edwin Olofu, Ganduje said the President had demonstrated a remarkable commitment towards uplifting the country and the masses.

He said, “Christians should remain resolute in their unwavering commitment to the growth and progress of our great nation. Nigeria is blessed with tremendous potential, and we firmly believe that with collective efforts and dedication, we can overcome all the challenges that come our way.

“I have profound confidence in the astute leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, whose administration has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to the development and uplift of Nigeria and Nigerians.

“I implore every Nigerian to maintain a spirit of hope, for it is this hope that ignites progress and fuels our determination to build a better future. Our nation’s strength lies in the unwavering optimism and the resilience of its citizens, and together, we can achieve this greatness.”

Also, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Philip Agbese, urged Nigerians to continue to pray for President Tinubu and the National Assembly to enable them to succeed in the task of delivering good services to the nation.

He said, “Rather than murmuring, criticising or castigating the people in power, as Christians, we are taught to always pray for our leaders and people in positions of authority and it is only when the leader has peace of mind that he can settle down for the business of governance and administration.

“Since any decision taken from the top has ripple effects on all of us, down the line and to the least person amongst us, we owe it as an obligation to pray for wellness, good judgment, safety, grace and success for the President and all our leaders, across all levels”.

The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, urged Nigerians to be champions of peace and promote reconciliation and unity among one another.

CAN said Nigerians must continue to look out for what unites, rather than divide, the nation.

Okoh said, “During this season, we are reminded to seek to be more like Jesus by reaching out to our neighbours with words of peace. In a diverse country like Nigeria, characterised by multiple ethnicities and religions, we must always strive to seek what unites and binds us together rather than what divides us.

“Let us be champions of peace and unity, setting aside our differences and promoting genuine reconciliation, understanding, and unity among all Nigerians. In this context, reconciliation signifies more than the absence of conflict; it signifies the presence of genuine love, respect, and acceptance for one another. “

The Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, urged Nigerians to remain hopeful of greater prosperity despite the myriad of challenges facing the country.

Sanwo-Olu, who spoke to journalists after attending a Holy Communion Service at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina, on Monday, in celebration of Christmas, said the nation was in its recovery process.

“We are at a time as a people when things are indeed at various levels of challenges. Our case is like that of a patient who has been diagnosed with an ailment in the hospital and who has also received some medication, but he is now in the process of recovering. And during that recovery process, there would still be pain that would be felt.

“The world has gone through a lot and so it is not peculiar to us alone. So, we are at the recovery stage, and it will appear as if we still have a bit of pain here and there. But I can assure us that with all the medications that we have taken with all the policies of the current Federal Government’s Renewed Hope agenda, there is light down the tunnel.”

The Governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, in a goodwill message by his spokesman, Mallam Isa Gusau, urged the people of the state to resist any attempt to divide them along religious lines, especially now that Borno is on the part of economic recovery, growth and development.

“The security challenges we faced affected us as citizens, regardless of our faith.

“While the majority of citizens seem to appreciate all that we are achieving together, there are few amongst us, who in recent times are trying to undermine our core values and the religious tolerance that exist across Borno State.

“These few persons appear to ignore the truth that in Borno State there are many families with a mixture of Muslim and Christian members, sometimes from the same parents, yet living together in harmony.

“I pledge not to be distracted and to remain fair with the guiding principle of considering the urgency of humanitarian needs as they affect communities in all our continued responses across Borno State,” Zulum said.

In Oyo State, Governor Seyi Makinde called on Christians to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ by showing love to others and cooperating with the political leadership.

He said, “It is understandable that the country is going through tough times but residents of the state must believe in God and trust in the government. I wish all residents of the state a Merry Christmas.

“I encourage our people to emulate Christ by spreading love and reaching out to others at this trying time. As an administration, we are not unaware of the tough times the country is going through but we are doing everything possible to mitigate the effects of the economic hardship.”

The Akwa Ibom State Governor, Umo Eno, urged well-to-do Christians in the state to reach out to the poor in the spirit of Christmas.

He said, “Don’t just give handouts, give them a hand to get up and let us together arise and work to extend the frontiers of the Golden Era of our collective growth, development and progress.”

Similarly, Governor Dikko Radda of Katsina State urged Christians in the state to emulate the virtues of Christ and also applauded residents for their resilience in fostering peace and religious harmony not only in the state but also in Nigeria as a whole.

“In the spirit of togetherness, we should join hands in seeking divine intervention for peace, security, and continued progress in Katsina State and Nigeria,” he said.

The Ondo State acting Governor, Mr Lucky Aiyedatiwa, in his goodwill message, said, “As we reflect on the lessons of the season, rededicate ourselves and remain steadfast in prayers against all our challenges, I urge you to extend your prayers to our dear Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, SAN, CON and for the unity, peace and prosperity of our land.”

Governor Abba Yusuf of Kano State called on Christians to rededicate themselves to the service of humanity in line with the true teachings of Jesus Christ which emphasise tolerance, patience, care for the needy and love for one another.

The Kaduna State Governor, Senator Uba Sani, enjoined Christians and Nigerians to shun greed, corruption and oppression of the poor.

The governor through his Chief Press Secretary, Mohammed Lawal-Shehu, added: “Let us bear in mind that the two most important miracles of Christmas are restoration and hope. As a government, we won’t leave any stone unturned in the effort to heal the wounds of the past and rekindle our hope for rebirth in the new year. Keep hope alive.”

Benue State Governor, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia, called on the people of Benue to shun acts that dislocate unity and learn to live in harmony with all and sundry irrespective of religious, ethnic and political leanings.

Alia also said, “I personally find this Yuletide very unique. It is my first as your governor. Seven months ago, I formally was handed the baton of leadership as unanimously determined by millions of you at the polls. It is my resolve and that of every member of my team never to let you down.

“I urge you to remember to visit the sick, as well as provide refuge to those who cannot enjoy Christmas at home with their families or have been sacked from their homes by insurgency or violence, particularly the IDPs.”

The Delta State Governor, Sheriff Oborevwori, urged Nigerians to eschew bitterness and work for the unity and progress of the country.

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Festus Ahon, the governor said, “Only a peaceful nation could attract investment and development. I assure you that 2024 will bring about increased advancement, increased wealth, and long-lasting fulfilment for everyone.

“It is imperative that we prioritise peaceful coexistence and mutual understanding among citizens, particularly in the light of the current security and economic challenges facing our nation.”

The governor of Abia State, Alex Otti, called on the people of the state to come together to drive the process of reconciliation.

Otti said, “At all times, we must bear in mind that maintaining the peace in our homes and communities is everyone’s responsibility but as stakeholders, we must be at the forefront.”

A former governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Kalu, urged Nigerians to embrace peace and unity, stressing the imperative of unity as a panacea for development.

He said, “No doubt, like every other country, it has been a challenging year but there are still many reasons for us to celebrate as a nation. The country will wax strong if all and sundry play their respective roles with patriotism.

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