President Goodluck Jonathan
Muhammad Bello, Onwuka Nzeshi and Dele Ogbodo in Abuja
President Goodluck Jonathan, Senate President David Mark and other political leaders yesterday enjoined Nigerians not to let the lesson inherent in the celebration of Christmas to be lost on them.
Jonathan, Mark as well as Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, Speaker of the House of Representatives Aminu Tambuwal, as well as his deputy Emeka Ihedioha, Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola, and his predecessor, Senator Bola Tinubu, in their separate seasonal messages, admonished Nigerians to let the virtues of peace and humility, among others, that defined the persona of Jesus Christ reflect in the way they live their lives.
The president reminded Nigerians that irrespective of their religious beliefs, the lessons from the life and times of Jesus cover all mankind and should be seen as a signpost for spiritual rebirth and national progress.
He said the humility, selflessness and other noble virtues that were exhibited by Jesus during his life were worthy of emulation by Nigerians in order to move the country forward.
He said: “Christmas and the lessons of Jesus Christ’s mission on earth have great significance for us as a people and there can be no doubt that we all, irrespective of our religious beliefs, can draw immense strength and inspiration from the Messiah’s enduring personification of selflessness, dedication to duty, and commitment to the well-being of others.
“The virtues and ideals of peace, tolerance, faithfulness, honesty, justice, fairness, true wisdom, knowledge and understanding which He taught and exemplified also remain very relevant to us in Nigeria as we continue to grapple with the challenges of development and nation-building.”
Pledging that his administration would continue to do its best to give effective leadership to the country in order to surmount its present challenges, the president prayed that all Nigerians would celebrate the yuletide merrily and encounter prosperity in the New Year.
Mark and Ekweremadu, on their part, urged Nigerians to continue to live peacefully in love and harmony.
In separate statements by their media aides, Mr. Kola Ologbodiyan for Mark, and Mr. Uche Anichukwu for Ekweremadu, the duo urged the people to always imbibe the teaching of Christ which preaches peace, cheerful-giving and above all love for one another.
“Christmas is a season to give and expect little in return. It is a time to preach peace and exemplify it in line with the coming of Christ. And for us as a people, this is the time to forgive, be more united and forge ahead in our onerous task of building a very strong and vibrant nation which will be the pride of all Africans,” Mark said.
Ekweremadu also called on Nigerians to see the Christmas season as a time for sober reflections and return to the path of love and forgiveness laid by Christ.
According to him, the country’s underdevelopment and spate of insecurity were clear manifestations of the regrettable departure from the life of love, forgiveness and self-sacrifice exemplified by Christ.
Tambuwal on his part, enjoined Nigerians to renew their faith in their country and work towards building a nation of their dreams.
In a message signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Malam Imam Imam, Tambuwal said with renewed faith, commitment and hard work, the country would soon realise its full potential.
He said the Christmas period is a time for deep reflection on the teachings of Christianity and what Jesus Christ stood for, and urged Nigerians, especially Christians, to pray for the peaceful coexistence and unity of the nation.
He said the House of Representatives would continue to play its role in efforts to provide quality representation to the people of Nigeria.
Ihedioha also called on Nigerians to use the occasion of Christmas to spread brotherly love, preach peace and practise same in their relationship with one another.
He said in his message that peace and love were virtues, which Nigeria needed, especially in this trying period of rising insecurity in the country.
He advised Nigerians to focus more on things that bind the various ethnic and religious groups rather than on issues that tend to divide them.
Fashola, in his Christmas message to the people, advocated peaceful co-existence among all Nigerians irrespective of their faith, saying it is necessary for progress in the country.
Fashola, who spoke during the 2012 Christmas Carols, noted that it is the common bond of humanity such as common blood, common markets and other such bonds that binds all together.
According to him, many people are adherents of faith they did not determine for themselves but were in it by circumstances of their birth, adding: “Whether you are a Christian or a Muslim, we are all God’s people.”
“Many Christians would probably have been Hindu if they were born in India or Buddhists. It is the common bond of humanity, the same blood, the same market, the same money and all that. That is what binds us together as a people,” the governor added.
Referring to a reading from the Bible as read by the representative of the Deputy Governor, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, at the occasion, Fashola prayed that God would intervene in the affairs of the world in order to save the planet from self-destruction.
“Our planet faces such difficulties today. Whether it is America where young children were mindlessly slaughtered or Mali where history is being destroyed, or in parts of Nigeria where people are living in fear and sorrow, I pray that that verse becomes applicable to our state, to our country, to the continent of Africa and to the world,” he stated.
Tinubu, besides the usual homily at Christmas, seized the opportunity of the occasion to criticise the Federal Government over the state of the nation.
The former governor, who is the national leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), said Nigerians who had survived the outgoing year and are blessed to witness this season of goodwill had done so, more through dint of handwork, perseverance and courage than through the support of government.
According to him, the Federal Government has disappointed many Nigerians because it has failed to deliver on many of its promises, particularly that of transforming their lives.
“This current administration rather than translating its touted transformation agenda into impactful performance, has hastened the transformation of most Nigerians into poverty, into a world of unemployment and insecurity,” he added.
He urged Nigerians not to lose hope and to continue in the spirit of Christmas to make the sacrifices necessary to make Nigeria better.