By Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
Aso Villa Chapel yesterday organised its annual end of the year thanksgiving service with former Heads of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, Olusegun Obasanjo and Ernest Shonekan in attendance.
The service, which took place in the chapel, was also attended by former Vice-President Alex Ekwueme, former Chief of General Staff Rear Admiral Ebitu Ukiwe, Gen. Oladipo Diya and the host, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.
Osinbajo said the service was an exciting time to thank God for all he had done for the country during the year.
“Today is a special thanksgiving for the end of the year and as you have seen, all the former presidents and vice-presidents are here for the special thanksgiving service.
“They have been specially invited to come, we also expected former President Jonathan but unfortunately, he had to cancel at the last moment.
“So we are all extremely excited that we have been able to bring everyone together to thank God for our nation and to give Him thanks for the great future ahead of us,’’ he said.
Gowon said he was delighted to be at the service with other former colleagues and thanked Osinbajo for facilitating his attendance.
Gowon said he was more excited with the children who came also to do their thanksgiving and prayed to God to bless the children in a special way.
He enjoined the children to keep the faith with other Christians and “to always make sure that we keep this country one and together’’.
He urged Christians to love every Nigerian in spite of their faith following the injunction of Jesus Christ to love their neighbour.
“Our neighbours are Christians, Muslims, traditional religions etc. Whatever we do, we make sure that we live up to the expectation of what Christ expects of us,’’ he said.
Gowon prayed for President Muhammadu Buhari, Osinbajo, the entire presidency and Nigerians and asked God to give the leadership the guidance to administer the country according to His will.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, thanked the vice-president and organisers of the service for bringing the past and present leaders to the service.
He said the nation was expecting good lead from the leadership in the coming year, noting that the event was meant specifically to thank God for helping the country to steer its economy.
Enang said the year was almost gone and that the budget for next year would soon be presented.
“Right now, they are having an appraisal of the last year’s budget and it is good to thank God and ask God’s face as we move ahead,’’ he said.
Enang predicted that God would lead the nation higher and greater in 2017.
The presidential aide said that from his interaction with the chairmen and members of the committees in charge of budget and finance at the National Assembly their appraisal of the performance of the 2016 budget was good.
“Their appraisal during their oversight showed that the implementation was according to plan as set out by Mr President and the leadership of this country.
“I believe it is going to be a lot much better this year and at the end of it,’’ he added.
The Chaplain of the Aso Villa Chapel, Pastor Seyi Malomo, in his message said thanksgiving was an injunction from God, adding that everyone in spite of status must thank God in all circumstances.
According to him, thanksgiving is an acknowledgement that God is alive, adding that each time the faithful give thanks, they demonstrate their faith in God.
“As we thank God, He will restore the good days to the nation,’’ he said and predicted that a time shall come when people would queue in embassies to visit the country.