Christians across Nigeria yesterday celebrated the 2020 Christmas in a largely peaceful atmosphere amid the second wave of COVID-19.
Daily Trust Saturday reports that the celebrations were largely peaceful in most states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) with pockets of killings recorded in some parts of the country.
It would be recalled that the Department of State Services (DSS) alerted Nigerians about plans by “enemies of state” to unleash terror on vulnerable places, including critical infrastructure, places of worship, as well as recreational centres during the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
DSS said the plot would be executed through the use of explosives, suicide bombing and other weapons.
The DSS spokesperson, Dr. Peter Afunanya, in a statement, however, assured Nigerians that security forces had taken measures to thwart the plot, which according to him, was meant to undermine the authority of the government.
The DSS alert brought palpable fears among Nigerians ahead of yesterday’s celebrations.
However, our correspondents report that the celebrations were largely peaceful and low-keyed in most of the states due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has restricted many people from engaging in the usual fanfare and visitations to recreational spots.
Notwithstanding the “new normal” situation the pandemic has brought upon the country, many Christians still celebrated the Christmas with families and loved ones.
Our correspondents further report that notwithstanding the recession and economic hardship in the land, many Nigerians were still able to travel to their hometowns to celebrate the Christmas with their loved ones as was evident in the volume of traffic witnessed in the days that preceded the celebration.
The celebration of Christmas in Lagos yesterday was low-key following the new guidelines imposed by the state government in response to the resurgence of COVID-19.
Daily Trust Saturday reports that many Lagosians complied with the directive of the state government to shun large gatherings, and church services across the state were held peacefully amid tight security as security operatives were seen in strategic parts, especially at the Alausa Government House.
The security agents were also seen at the JJT Park, a popular recreational centre, to ensure that people did not visit it in line with the directive of the state.
Few children were seen around the government house hoping to use the recreational centre which was however locked.
Few restaurants, however, opened for fun seekers with strict COVID-19 protocols observed.
A resident simply identified as Adeyinka said, “We were going to the JJT Park at Alausa to celebrate Christmas but we saw that the place was closed. The park is close to the seat of power. Obviously there was a directive to shut it in view of the pandemic, but we had to make use of Mega Chicken to unwind.”
Daily Trust Saturday reports that most churches admitted few members for the Christmas services.
Residents miss carnival in Calabar
For the first time in many years, Christmas in Calabar was unexciting and dull according to residents.
The dullness might not be unconnected with the cancellation of the annual Calabar Christmas Carnival which makes the city a beehive of commercial activities and fanfare.
Some churches opened but the excitement was absent. Observation of COVID-19 protocols were emphasised.
Small groups of children in their new Christmas dresses trooped to the popular Eleven-Eleven public square to catch fun. Many others were also seen at the famous Watt Market Roundabout where they watched cultural dances and masquerade performances.
Remarking about the celebration, a housewife, Mrs. Christiana Abraham, said this year’s celebration was very poor, noting that, “There is no money to buy chicken and rice. Besides, they are very costly. I don’t have N3,500 for chicken. I had to go for some goat meat costing N2,000.”
Celebration peaceful in Enugu
The Christmas celebration in Enugu State, especially in Enugu, the state capital, was peaceful as there was no recorded bad incident yesterday.
However, some residents had a carefree attitude in the observance of COVID-19 protocols. At the St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church, Idaw River, Enugu South Local Government Area, the church auditorium was filled to capacity with many worshipers staying outside.
Daily Trust Saturday reports that during the night mass on Thursday, except the reverend fathers, sisters, seminarians, altar boys and few of parishioners, majority of the over 2,000 worshipers were not wearing face masks or observing social distancing.
A resident, Madam Nkiru, described the Christmas celebration as peaceful and blissful as she prayed God Almighty to continue to sustain the peaceful atmosphere which Enugu is known for.
Muslims attended service in Kaduna church to strengthen relationship
Muslims and Christians attended church service at a Kaduna church, a move designed to strengthen good relationship between the two religions.
The General Overseer of Christ Evangelical and Life Intervention Ministry, Pastor Yohanna Buru, expressed appreciation for the large turnout of Muslim faithful during the church service.
Pastor Buru said the Muslims joined their Christian friends and relatives in the service to promote the good relationship they share together.
According to him, Muslims from various states in the northern part of the country annually come to the church to celebrate Christmas with Christians.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that this year’s Christmas sermon at the church dwelt on religious tolerance, forgiveness, better understanding, peace, love and unity among Nigerians.
NAN further reports that those in attendance at the church service included Muslim scholars, traditional rulers, peace ambassadors and stakeholders on peace building from Katsina, Kano, Sokoto and Zamfara states.
CAS organised lunch for troops in Borno
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, took lunch yesterday with troops of the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole in Maiduguri to celebrate the 2020 Christmas.
Speaking at the occasion, Marshal Abubakar said the gesture was to fill the vacuum created as a result of troops’ inability to celebrate with their families.
He said, “This occasion also fosters comradeship and gives us the opportunity to commend ourselves for our collective effort in the ongoing fight against insurgency.
“It is not easy to quantify our enormous contributions and sacrifice towards the war against insurgency.”
He urged the troops to remain vigilant and focused, reiterating his commitment to reposition the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) for effective, efficient and timely deployment of air power in response to national security challenges.