By Cecilia Ologunagba
Abuja, Dec. 31, 2020 Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, Archbishop of Abuja Catholic Archdiocese, has advised corrupt Nigerian leaders and government officials to take advantage of the new year by repenting from their corrupt practices.
Kaigama said this in his New Year Message tagged “ Relying on Divine Providence,’’ in Abuja on Thursday.
The archbishop said that those who misused government funds through corruption should repent like Zacchaeus, the tax collector, so that poverty will be conquered in the country.
“Those who rob others of their valuables should stop. Those who exploit helpless victims in our police stations, courts, institutions, highways and offices must stop.
“No matter the unemployment and poverty rate, compatriots should stop kidnapping fellow human beings for money, not to talk of taking their lives, because every human life is sacred.
“In this New Year, please, see a brother or sister in every Nigerian you meet.
“Promise not to hurt or look down on another human being,’’ he said.
Kaigama said that there must be an attitudinal change in the country for progress and development.
“Let both the ordinary poor Nigerians and the privileged and influential Nigerians behave and do things positively and differently, with the fear of God,’’ he said.
According to him, as Christians, we see the New Year as a symbolic anticipation of that eternal day when all things will be made new.
“Only if we keep Christ at the very centre of our existence can we ever hope to know the joy and happiness that nothing and no one can take from us.
“Undoubtedly, the New Year will bring its share of surprises. Maybe one of the surprises of 2021 will be that this New Year exceeds expectations.
“As we begin the New Year, I am optimistic that it will be a better year and the storms of 2020 will be over,’’ he said.
The Archbishop, however, encouraged the leaders to do more and not to be afraid of corrections and that the citizens should adhere to and be guided by words of the national anthem.
“Christians and members of other religions should be faithful and charitable.
“They should be charitable so that we can witness a transformation in all spheres of our private and national life, in this way, peace will flow like a river and justice and progress will follow,’’ he said.
Kaigama, however, urged Nigerians to be grateful for the gift of 2021 and to rely on God for the best in the New Year.
“We give thanks and praise to God for the beginning of a New Year, a brand new gift from the Lord. All things work together for good for those who love God.
“This consoling thought should be with us during 2021.
“The beginning of a New Year is usually a time for hope, a chance to make a fresh start.
“However, given all that the world has been through in the past year, the usual optimism that comes with a new year seems a bit diminished,’’ he said.
Kaigama said that 2020 had its bitter moments and more than enough ‘heartaches and headaches’ but had some joys, blessings and providence.
“In the face of an uncertain future, our hope as Christians is rooted in what in Christian spirituality we refer to as Divine Providence.
“Divine Providence is the term used to explain that God is so sovereign that everything takes place according to His purpose. The entire universe is governed by Divine Providence.
“ If you affirm the providence of God, you are confessing, even in the face of all appearances to the contrary, that God cares for you and is in control of your life.
“ It is worth reaffirming that all things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to his purpose, according to Romans chapter eight verse 28,’’ he said.
According to him, by providence, we mean that God looks after human affairs.
“One of the examples of providence occurs in Genesis Chapter 22, when God told Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice.
“As they were going up the mountain, Isaac saw the fire and the wood, but he wondered where the lamb was for the burnt offering.
“ Abraham said, God will provide himself a sacrifice.
“Indeed, God did provide a sacrifice in the place of Isaac, and Abraham called the name of the place. The Lord will provide (Genesis 22:14), which is where we get the name, the God who provides,” he said.
In addition, he said after God provided a sacrifice for Abraham, more than 2,000 years ago, He again acted to provide a sacrifice through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
“If God has given us His Son, He will surely see us through the coming year. We can trust in the Providence of God,’’ the archbishop said.