TrophySo many young people are trooping out of Nigeria because of unemployment and hard cost of living. The number of young people in most foreign immigrant camps is unimaginable. Considering what the young people are passing through in the hands of politicians, Boko Harram, kidnappers, terrorists and even some wicked lecturers, I have decided to devote my ministry and most of my reflections this year in the Liberation and Empowerment of the young people in Nigeria.
We are in partnership with the All Dreams Foundation at the United States of America in the empowerment of the Nigerian youths through Exchange programmes and other developmental agenda that will transform the lives of the youths in Nigeria. We are beginning this life transforming reflection and agenda with Liberation from the spirit of distress.
Distress has to do with the experience of anguish, Misery, suffering, grief and all forms of agony and injustices. A nation that is under distress is an unstable nation. It a nation where majority of its citizens are facing hardship and suffering. A nation that is suffering from distress is a nation where people survive through bitterness and affliction. It is a nation that is in a state of anarchy and desolation. In fact, it is a nation where people are terrorized, where people live under fear and discomfort.
The spirit of distress is the spiritual force that is behind all forms of distress. This spirit is not from the living God and as our Lord Jesus Christ rightly said, “Every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up” (Matthew 15:13). This is exactly what liberation is all about. It means uprooting from the human soul or the system whatsoever that is not planted by the living God that is causing setback, poverty, and even war and death.
The Catholic Bishop Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) was the first to declare that Nigeria is a nation that if suffering from the spirit of distress. To address this problem, they composed a powerful prayer which all the Catholic Churches in Nigeria were mandated to use, especially during Masses, after the reception of the Holy Communion. Since then most Catholic Churches are using this prayer to fight the spirit of distress. This prayer has at least created the awareness that Nigeria is indeed under distress.
Before the Catholic Bishops declared Nigeria as a nation under distress things were far much better than what we are experiencing today. Although things were rough in the nation, a lot of people were denied justice, so many people could not afford their daily bread and there were bad roads here and there; that was the period when the military took over power by force and the nation was not practicing democracy. However those days there were no kidnappings, no Boko Harram, no bomb blast as we have in our nation today. If Nigeria was classified as a nation under distress then, I wonder what the Catholic Bishop will label the present day Nigeria.
A typical example of a nation that was under distress was the case of the Hebrews in the land of Egypt. The Egyptians, according to the scripture, made life unlivable for the Israelites. They “set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens… they made the people of Israel serve with rigour, and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortal in the field; in all their work they made them serve with rigour” (Exodus 1:11,14). This is a typical example of a nation that was under distress. The Egyptians were using the Israelites as slaves. They made life distressful for them. Life was no longer sweet but bitter for the Israelites. In fact, the Israelites were living a miserable life in Egypt.
In the case of Nigeria, you may quickly want to know, who are the oppressed and who are the oppressors? Think of the way the politicians are using the Nigerian youths during election. They expose them to all kinds of dangers and inhuman labours. They use the youth for political thugs. Some of the youths are even used for suicide mission.  Majority of the so-called Boko Harram group are young people without job. So many young people have lost their lives in the process. What else do you expect – an idle mind is devil’s workshop – since the youths are not employed by the appropriate quarters the devil and the agents of Satan have decided to employ them.
When you listen to some of the verbal war going on right now in Nigeria by politicians you need no one to tell you that most of the insurgencies in the nation were caused by politicians. Till now Nigeria could not account for the way about of the Chibuk girls, Boko Harram, as reported have taken some parts of the North East, bomb blast is no longer news in Nigeria. It is common and it can happen at any time; yet one of the politicians have the mind to say that if his party does not win the coming election they will form a parallel government.
This shows that they are ready for anything, including war. But wait a moment, who are they using to fight these wars? The youths of course! When two elephants fight the grass suffers. The children of most of these politicians are not even studying in the country. Most of their children are living outside the country. How many politicians are ready to expose their own children to the kind of risk and dangers they are exposing the Nigerian youths? How long will the politicians sacrifice the lives of young Nigerians in the political altars? How long will they deny the young people of this nation of their fundamental human right? How long are we going to keep quiet and allow our young people, the future leaders of this nation, to suffer under the heartless hand of the politicians?
In the case of the Israelites, when they discovered that they were living under distress they did not keep quite. The people of Israel groaned under their bondage, and cried out for help, and their cry under bondage came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob” (Exodus 2:23-25). If the Israelites had not cried to God, how will God pay attention to their plight? Thus, “heaven help those who help themselves.” If we cry to God, He must surely answer our prayers. Things must surely change for better.
Fellow Nigerian youths, it is time to cry out to God. You have suffered enough! God has remembered you. He has seen your affliction and now he has come to deliver you from bondage, especially from the spirit of distress. God told Moses, “I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know their sufferings, and I have come to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians” (Exodus 3:7-8). God has come to deliver the Nigerian youths from Boko Harram and the spirit of kidnapping. He has come to deliver them from poverty, from the hands of heartless politicians and indeed from the spirit of distress.
My fellow young Nigerians, there is good news for you. There is still hope for Nigeria. God will not allow Nigeria to disintegrate.  So many things happened last year that would have led to war but because God was involved we are still living together as one nation. God has remembered the Nigerian youths. The Lord God said through the Prophet Isaiah, “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem (Nigeria), and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned” (Isaiah 40:1-2). The Lord God has not just come to comfort the Nigerian youths he has come to deliver them from the spirit of distress, from unemployment and from all kinds of bondage.
PRAYER FOR NIGERIA IN DISTRESS: All powerful and merciful father, you are the God of justice, love and peace. You rule over all the Nations of Earth. Power and Might are in your hands and no one can withstand you. We present our country Nigeria before you. We praise and thank you for you are the source of all we have and are. We are sorry for all the sins we have committed and for the good deeds we have failed to do.
In your loving forgiveness, keep us save from the punishment we deserve. Lord we are weighed down not only by uncertainties, but also by moral, economic and political problems. Listen to the cries of your people who confidently turn to you. God of infinite goodness, our strength in diversity, Our health in weakness, our comfort in sorrow, Be merciful to us your people. Spare this nation Nigeria from chaos anarchy and doom. Bless us with your kingdom of justice, love and peace. We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.