President Goodluck Jonathan
By Our Correspondents
President Goodluck Jonathan mounted the pulpit Sunday to preach hope of a better Nigeria, saying that despite the multifarious challenges facing the country, it will overcome.
Jonathan, at an interdenominational church service in Abuja to herald the celebration of the nation’s 52nd independence anniversary scheduled for today, said the solution to the nation’s problems require divine salvation and the participation of every citizen.
Other political and religious leaders, including House of Representatives Speaker, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, and governors, spoke in the same vein to mark the occasion and in their messages to the nation.
The president, who anchored his statement on the book of Second Corinthians 10:4, which reads: “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds,” said he could not solve Nigeria's problem alone but he requires the support of all Nigerians.
Expressing confidence that there are many Nehemiahs in all strata of the society that would assist in rebuilding the nation just like God used Prophet Nehemiah to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, the president appreciated the role of religious leaders in supporting his administration.
He reiterated his administration’s commitment to sanitise the electoral process, adding that corruption would soon be outdated in the country given all that his administration was doing to ensure rectitude in the system.
He said: “On corruption, Transparency International that has never spared Nigeria admitted in its latest rating that Nigeria is second to America in its commitment to fight corruption. God willing, we shall overcome it.
“On the economic environment, at least 249 new companies, according to the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, have entered the market. We shall continue to work hard to create jobs for our people.
“I want to assure Nigerians we will not sleep until we stabilise power in this country.
“Leadership at all levels is collective. One person cannot change a nation. Agreed the leader matters but he cannot change things alone. All of us Nigerians must work together to rebuild our nation.
“Our men and women will change things in this country. There are so many Nehemiahs in the National Assembly, the Federal Executive Council, in our judiciary, among our teachers, businessmen and women and we believe God will use these Nehemiahs to rebuild the country.”
President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, described Boko Haram as a terrorist organisation being funded by those who want to create political space for themselves and those who want to divide Nigeria.
In his message, he said he was aware that most Nigerians would be wondering, especially in troubled times like this, whether God has abandoned the country.
In his remarks, the convener of Nigeria Prays and former Head of State, Dr. Yakubu Gowon, said the present time called for sober reflection, greater prayer and supplication.
Pope Benedict 16th also sent a message praying for peace and hope for Nigeria.
Senate President David Mark took the first Bible reading from the book of 1 Samuel 17:38-47, while the second scripture, taken from Corinthians 2, 10:1-5 was taken by Jonathan.
Among dignitaries present at the church service were former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Vice-President Alex Ekwueme, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu and Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha.
Tambuwal, in his goodwill message to Nigerians to mark the independence anniversary, urged them to look to the future with optimism.
The speaker, in a statement signed by his media aide, Malam Imam Imam, said all Nigerians must work assiduously to promote peace, unity and democracy.
Rivers State Governor, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, urged the people to remain patient and cooperate with his administration to facilitate the needed development in the state.
The governor, at an interdenominational church service to mark the independence anniversary at Christ Church, Port Harcourt, attributed the progress made by his administration to the grace of God, as well as the support and understanding of the people.
Amaechi listed education, health, road and power as priority projects of his administration in its bid to uplift the well-being of the people.
Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, urged Nigerians to seize the opportunity of the anniversary to reflect on how they can contribute their quotas to make the nation a better place for all to live.
The governor, who called for peaceful coexistence among adherents of all faiths as “no religion in the world preaches violence,” said despite its challenges, Nigeria would rise again.
Amosun, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant, Media, Mrs Funmi Wakama, said: “There is no democratic country in the world that is not confronted with one problem or the other, but with concerted efforts and sincerity of purpose, we can always overcome the challenges of our time.”
Amosun’s counterpart in Osun State, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, in his message, canvassed for true fiscal federalism as the only panacea for the nation’s multi-faceted socio-political problems.
He stressed the need for the nation to operate a true federal structure, adding that a situation where constitutional provisions are ignored in high administrative offices could only engender injustices as well as conflicts and promote disrespect for the rule of law.
On his part, former Lagos State governor and national leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Senator Bola Tinubu, urged Nigerians to refocus on their country and rededicate themselves to its development.
He said in a statement to mark the anniversary that although Nigeria might be passing through difficult times, its problems could be solved collectively if its people were so desirous.
According to him, one of the burning challenges facing the country was that of a constitution to make Nigeria a true federation and that would correct all the structural imbalances that have resulted in mutual distrust and slowed down economic growth and prosperity.
Former acting National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Kawu Baraje, lauded the present administration over its efforts at improving the living standards of Nigerians despite the security challenges facing the nation.
Baraje, in an interview with reporters in Ilorin at the weekend on the 52nd independence anniversary, urged the government not to be deterred by various comments by the opposition.
He called on the government to concentrate on good governance that would further bring succour to the citizenry.
The All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) also urged Nigerians to work for a just and fair society where corruption and impunity will no longer hold sway.
In their separate goodwill messages to mark the anniversary, the parties lamented the sufferings being borne by many Nigerians on account of bad policies, inefficiency of public officers, corruption and injustice.
In his message, the ANPP's National Chairman, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, said Nigeria was born with so much hope, but had so far failed to live up to expectations.
CPC, in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, faulted the manner in which the Federal Government was going about its anti-corruption crusade and the ongoing privatisation in the key sectors of the economy, especially the power sector.