President Goodluck Jonathan
By Muhammad Bello and Sheriff Balogun
At two different forums at the weekend, President Goodluck Jonathan and former President Olusegun Obasanjo assured Nigerians of a safer nation in the New Year.
Jonathan, at a church service in Abuja, reiterated the determination of his administration to effectively curtail terrorist attacks by Boko Haram which has killed over 3,000 people since 2009.
On his part, Obasanjo, during a peace meeting among the four sectional traditional rulers in Egbaland in Abeokuta, expressed optimism that Nigeria would soon overcome all the security challenges currently confronting it.
The president, in a remark at the church service at the Ekklisiyar Yaruwa a Nigeria (EYN – Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), Utako, Abuja, told the congregants that the Federal Government has not only changed its strategy on the anti-terror war, it has also come up with fresh measures to curtail attacks by the Islamic sect.
He said some of the fresh measures had started yielding the desired dividends, adding that the government would do everything possible to ensure that the activities of the Boko Haram do not cause inertia in governance in the New Year.
“Boko Haram planned to carry out a lot of attacks on Christmas Day, but we suppressed their plans during the Christmas holiday and most of their plans were not executed because of the strategies put in place by the security agencies, which aborted their efforts.
“Although we still recorded some incidents, but the extent of attacks which they had planned, we did not allow them to execute them.
“Boko Haram will not push us backwards. If their plans were to stop government from providing the dividends of democracy, they would not succeed because 2013 will be a good year for Nigerians and Nigeria.
“With your persistent prayer we shall defeat them,” he said.
The president expressed appreciation to the clergy and congregation of the EYN nationwide for keeping the faith and remaining calm even in the face of provocation.
Earlier, the pastor of the church, Rev. Daniel Mbaya, had said the church had been severely affected by the Boko Haram insurgency, especially in the North-east where it has many branches and worshippers.
He explained that 109 worshippers from the church were killed in various attacks by the sect and about 50 branches were burnt under similar circumstances.
He thanked the president for coming to worship in the church, saying it is a demonstration that the country is blessed with a caring, loving and concerned leader.
The president was at the service with his mother, Mrs Ayi Jonathan; his Chief of Staff, Chief Mike Oghiadomhe; the Executive Secretary, Christians Pilgrims Board, John Kennedy-Opara; Senator Philip Aduda and some presidential aides.
Speaking on the same theme, Obasanjo said Nigeria was never a cursed nation and had the potential to overcome its challenges, whether in terms of security or in the socio-economic sector.
He therefore urged the citizens to exercise patience and be dedicated towards making the nation great.
According to him, God has been kind to the country in terms of natural resources, just as he lamented the failure of the country’s leadership to harness the economic potential towards the nation’s greatness.
He said: “The first thing God did that surprised us most was that He dropped two big rivers down to confluence Nigeria. He then later used gold, bauxite and so many limestone in abundance to beautify everywhere in the country. He then later dropped oil under our soil near the water and later in the water.
“I believe there are good people who will be able to manage it, maybe later. But the earlier we are there, the better and I am sure we will be there. We will be there because God has been kind to us; we only need to be kind to ourselves and God will help us.”