Vice President Yemi Osibanjo has urged Nigerians to shun ethnic and religious sentiments by allowing a man after God’s heart to emerge as president in 2023.

Osinbajo, represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, made the plea in Abuja during the 2022 Service of Nine Lessons and Carols with the theme “Fear Not.”

According to him, Nigerians should nurse no fears about the forthcoming general elections.

“Your theme of this year’s celebration is ‘Fear Not’; this is a very important subject for everyone of us even as we approach the 2023 general elections, which has been described as a year that Nigeria seems to be at a crossroad.

“As we approach 2023, we are going to have elections; we are going to have a census exercise but we have an assurance from our Lord and Saviour; let’s not allow our hearts to be troubled.

“We should live in Him and believe in God,” he said.

According to him, the Holy Bible contains 365 messages to mankind on “Fear not” and everyone has been given a capsule of each of the passages to be used for each day of the year.

“Secondly, the purpose of Christmas, which celebrates the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ whom the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols is about, is to remind us that we must not fear,” he added.

He congratulated the organisers for the consistency in holding the event in the last 19 years.

“It has added beautiful symphonies to the celebration of our Christmas every year.

“I bring to you felicitations of Christmas from His Excellency, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, who wishes you a wonderful Christmas celebration in advance and glorious 2023,” Osinbajo said.

The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Daniel Okoh, in his message entitled, “Lay down your fears,” said Nigerians should expect a turnaround in spite of current challenges.

“People are living in fear, afraid of going out for their legitimate business as a result of fear; but with our prayers and supplications, we will succeed and win,” he said.

Okoh also prayed against electoral violence in the forthcoming general elections.

“As children of God, Nigerians should not be afraid of the future as fear can take a whole nation away from the purpose of God.

“Fear must not stop us from pursuing our dreams and seeking justice; as leaders and citizens, let equity be our watchword,” he said.

He appealed to Nigerians to come out en-mass to vote in order to promote democracy.

“If you vote, you have the opportunity to choose the kind of leaders you wish to change the narratives; fear doesn’t bring progress,” he said.

Okoh assured Nigerians that Christ would usher in help, hope and restoration for the nation.

Represented by FRCN Director of Legal Services, Mr David Angbazo, Liman commended the organisers for a job well done.

“The VON, NTA and FRCN carols have been on for 19 years and it gets better.

“Nigeria is experiencing a lot of political activities.

” We have to thank God already for it will be successful; we have to thank God and pray for unity as the theme depicts- “Fear Not”.

“We know God will stand for us and the elections will come and go peacefully,” Liman said.

The Director-General of Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Malam Salihu Dembos, represented by the Director of Engineering Services, Mr Moses Okpanachi, commended all dignitaries and the organisers.

“We are proud of this colourful event and it is our earnest desire that we maintain the annual culture for unity and peace,” Dembos said.

Highlights of the event was the lighting of the Christmas tree and candle light by the Director-General of VON, Mr Osita Okechukwu,  and the leading of a procession by the SGF.

The Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Mr Buki Ponle, who represented the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, was among dignitaries in the procession.

NAN reports that all the lessons centred on the coming of Jesus Christ to redeem mankind and each reading was followed by renditions of hymns.

NAN also reports that the event, organised by FRCN, NTA and VON, was attended by Christians from various denominations. (NAN)