•Laments security crisis, schoolchildren’s abduction
•Cancels homage by govt officials, others
•Jonathan, Atiku, Lawan, Gbajabiamila, preach love, tolerance, sacrifice
Omololu Ogunmade, Chuks Okocha, Adedayo Akinwale, Udora Orizu in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday sought to appease Nigerians worried by his perceived poor handling of security crisis plaguing the country, saying he could not in good conscience shirk his responsibility to secure lives.
The president, in his Christmas message to Nigerians in commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ, said the provision of security for all remains his article of faith, describing it “as a vital segment of this administration’s three-point agenda right from inception, and we must follow through with it.”
Buhari’s predecessor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan and House of Representatives Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, in their own Christmas messages, urged Nigerians to allow the virtues of love, tolerance and sacrifice Jesus Christ was known for to be their guiding principles.
The president said the symbol of joy, peace, hope, love, goodwill and imminent salvation, which Christmas represents, is much needed in Nigeria now as the country battles a range of crises, including security challenges, economic recession and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Buhari who said he’s always distressed when the youth, particularly pupils, become victims of insecurity, added that such situations make him feel the similar emotional torture and agony that parents and guardians go through.
He appealed to citizens to cooperate with the military and other security agencies in the battle against insecurity by volunteering intelligence on activities of criminals with a view to combating insecurity.
According to him, the security crisis bedeviling the country is complex and he pledged to remain focused in tackling it.
He stated that Nigerians reserve the right to live in an atmosphere of peace, which he described as recipe for economic growth.
“For me, providing security for all residents in the country remains an article of faith. It formed a vital segment of this administration’s three-point agenda right from inception, and we must follow through with it.
“I cannot in good conscience shirk this cardinal responsibility to secure lives and property. I feel pained each time a breach of peace and security occurs in any part of the nation. I am even more distressed when our youths, especially schoolchildren, are the targets and victims of mindless and malevolent elements in the society. As a parent, I share the emotional torture and agony parents and guardians go through whenever their children and wards fall into the cruel hands of these enemies of decency and good society,” he said.
According to him, the solutions to Nigeria’s insecurity go beyond what he labelled as “the simplistic options being bandied around.”
“We shall remain focused on following the complex, multi-dimensional route to reducing the incidents of insecurity to the barest minimum. Our people must be free to live and move without let or hindrance. This is crucial not only to enthroning an atmosphere of calm and social cohesion, but for the economy to grow.
“Let us use this season of goodwill and joy to renew our faith in the ability of this administration to make a lasting difference in the lives of our hard-working people. “Our social intervention measures and other economic policies are already yielding positive results even at modest rates,” he said.
The president who promised to support security agencies within the resources available, commended the security forces for what he described as their efforts in confronting the worsening insecurity in the country, particularly in the North.
He said the tactful display of the security agencies, which resulted in the release of abducted schoolboys of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State, would remain a milestone in the history of the country.
He said: “Under my watch, the federal government will continue to provide the needed support within available resources to the gallant members of our armed forces and security agencies as they confront threats to our citizens.
“While I commend them for their efforts so far, I urge them to do more to checkmate increasing incidents of security threats, especially in the northern parts of the country as well as the entire nation in varying degrees. Their display of tact, camaraderie and expertise that led to the recent return of abducted schoolboys of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, will remain a milestone in the annals of the country,” he added.
Buhari who advised Nigerians to maximise this season of Christmas celebration to make a difference, said deliberate moves would be undertaken to ensure that youngsters did not become agents of civil disobedience that could lead to destruction of lives and property.
He said whereas freedom of association and peaceful protest is guaranteed in the country’s extant laws, his government would not condone protests which degenerate into destruction of security agents, national and private assets.
According to him, stipulations in the economic sustainability plan (ESP) designed to support micro-small businesses are being implemented.
He listed beneficiaries of the policy as artisans, transporters, traders and farmers, adding that succour would continuously be provided for the vulnerable in the society following the harsh economy orchestrated by the outbreak of COVID-19.
Buhari said in the face of meagre revenues caused by COVID-19, the 2021 budget was yet to be fully implemented as he expressed hope that the country would exit the current recession soon.
“Let us use this season of goodwill and joy to renew our faith in the ability of this administration to make a lasting difference in the lives of our hard-working people. Our social intervention measures and other economic policies are already yielding positive results even at modest rates,” he stated.
On COVID-19, the president said Nigeria seemed to be going through the second wave of the pandemic.
He appealed to citizens that as they celebrate Christmas, they should observe COVID-19 advisories conceived to contain the spread of the disease.
He added that as both the state and national authorities do their best to contain the disease, individuals should also accept responsibility by playing their own roles to forestall the spread of the disease.
He appealed to Nigerians to be vigilant this Christmas season as many travel to different destinations for the celebration.
He urged them to bear in mind the necessity to survive COVID-19 so that they can yet be part of future celebrations.
“There is every indication that our country is already experiencing a second wave of COVID-19 infection. As we celebrate Christmas with families and friends, I urge all citizens and residents to adhere strictly to the non-pharmaceutical prevention guidelines of regular hand-washing, wearing masks and social/physical distancing with a view to mitigating the spread of this devastating virus.
“While national and state institutions are trying their best, we must take individual responsibility and resist the strong temptation of compliance-fatigue by followin the recommended protocols put in place by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and beat the ravaging pandemic.
“I have absolute confidence in the spirit of resilience of our people to do the needful and remain vigilant even as this festive season witnesses increased travels and celebrations. Staying alive to enjoy future festivals should be the watchword.
I wish all Nigerians divine protection and Merry Christmas,” Buhari added.
The president said he rejoiced with Nigerians, particularly Christians, on what he described as this joyous occasion of 2020 Christmas celebration, describing Christmas season as a period of joy, peace, hope, love, goodwill and imminent salvation.
He said these qualities are much needed in Nigeria now as the country battles a range of crises, including security challenges such as armed banditry, kidnappings, insurgency, economic recession as well as a spike in COVID-19 infections.
The president has, however, banned visits to him by religious and community leaders in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) during the Christmas celebration.
Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, tweeted yesterday that the decision is in line with the prevailing protocol put in place by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, restricting large gatherings.
He said: “The president urges all citizens to, in line with the prescribed protocol, observe social distancing, use face masks, wash hands frequently and avoid overcrowding of public spaces, markets, shopping centres, offices and places of worship.
“President Buhari equally appeals to citizens to discourage all non-essential travels during the holiday season.
“He wishes everyone a Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year ahead.”
Jonathan Preaches Love, Peace
In his Christmas message, former President Goodluck Jonathan urged Nigerians to show love to one another, adding that the spirit of Christmas requires people of the world to rededicate themselves to friendship, kindness and compassion.
The former president, in a statement, said: “Christmas is the day, in the calendar of Christendom, that marks the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It is a commemoration that connects the world to love, selflessness, sacrifice and solidarity; which are the virtues that Christ unambiguously propagated.
“Jesus’ message of salvation speaks to the essence of both spiritual deliverance and earthly redemption. It is a constant reminder that humanity will have a more peaceful existence if people of the world rededicate themselves to friendship, kindness and compassion.
“People have been through so much in 2020, including navigating the snares of the deadly novel COVID-19 pandemic. At Christmas, the world needs love. This is the spirit we have to imbibe to heal all that is broken in our world.”
Atiku Felicitates With Christians
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has urged Christians and all Nigerians to rededicate themselves and remain steadfast in prayers, which he said have an immense impact on the peace, security, unity and stability of the nation.
In his Christmas message released in Abuja by his Media Office, and signed by Paul Ibe, Atiku said it is important for Nigerians to show love to their neighbours and be intentional in thinking good thoughts and showing even better actions to make Nigeria better.
He said: “On this significant occasion of Christmas, I felicitate with all Nigerians, particularly the Christian faithful, on the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas is a time of love, therefore, I call on all Nigerians to emulate the essence of this season and unite for the greater good of our dear country.
“This period reminds us of the need to uphold the virtues of love, selflessness and tolerance. I call on all Nigerians to reflect on the lessons of the season, which presents an opportunity to love and share.”
Atiku urged Nigerians to also remember their fellow citizens, the men and women of the armed forces, some of whom lost their lives this year fighting to protect the people from terrorist attacks, banditry, kidnapping and other forms of insecurity.
Let’s Remember the Essence of Christmas, Says Lawan
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, called on Nigerians not to to forget the reason for the season as they celebrate Christmas.
Lawan noted that this year’s celebration comes at a time when the world is combatting the resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced many countries to ramp up health safety protocols at a time when people traditionally gather to share love in celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
He added that aside from the global health emergency of COVID-19, Nigeria also faces security and economic challenges.
Lawan, however, expressed confidence that the resilience and positive attitudes of Nigerians would not only help the country to prevail against the challenges but also ensure that their strains do not stop a merry and responsible celebration of Christmas in the country.
According to him, as Nigerians celebrate Christmas, people of faith should remember the country in their prayers, especially for divine guidance for the government in its efforts to improve national security and strengthen the economy .
“I celebrate with the Christian faithful and enjoin all of us to remember the essence of the august occasion.
“In the true spirit of the season, let’s show love to our neighbours, kindness to the less-privileged and vulnerable, and tolerance to one another across the lines of faith, politics and ethnicity; in the spirit of the unique sacrifice and teachings of Jesus Christ.
“With the prayers of the faithful and our continued support for the government, I am confident that Nigeria will surmount its challenges, attain its manifest destiny of greatness and become the pride of its citizens and the entire Black World,” Lawan said.
He urged Nigerians to celebrate the festival responsibly by adhering strictly to the public health protocols as announced by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to curtail the spread of the virus.
Pray for Nigeria, Imbibe Teachings of Jesus Christ, Gbajabiamila Tells Christians
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has called on Christians to use this period of Christmas to pray for continuous peaceful coexistence among Nigerians.
The speaker, in his Christmas message to the nation, urged the people to pray for the country to overcome the challenges facing it, especially insecurity.
He called on them to imbibe the teachings of Jesus Christ, whom he described as a role model to all.
Gbajabiamila noted that Nigerians should also use the period to pray for their leaders for God’s guidance.
He said periods like this call for sober reflection, noting that Nigerians must be their brothers’ keepers at all times.
He also said Nigerians, irrespective of where they come from, must work towards achieving the dreams of the country’s founding fathers, who made a lot of sacrifices for the nation to be one.
APC Urges Nigerians to Give to Needy
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has urged Nigerians to imbibe the true essence of Christmas by giving a helping hand to those in need and give succour to the vulnerable.
The Secretary of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC),
Senator John Akpanudoedehe, in a statement yesterday, said as every country affected by the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Nigeria is poised to exit the current recession within a short time considering several measures lined up by the federal government.
It added that during this festivities, Nigerians must all stay safe by adhering to official public health directives by avoiding non-essential trips, large gatherings, wearing facemasks and washing hands regularly to halt the virus spread.
PDP Urges Hope, Prayers for Nigeria
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday urged Nigerians to use the Christmas and Yuletide celebrations to rekindle hope and trust in God’s divine intervention in the affairs of the nation.
The PDP added that though the manifest failures of the current administration have led to economic hardship and worsened insecurity across the country, Christmas rekindles faith that all hope is not lost for Nigeria .
The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, lamented that under the prevailing circumstances, most families have nothing to celebrate with, while many are mourning their losses from escalated insecurity due to the failure of those entrusted with the leadership of the nation.
“Nevertheless, we must keep hope alive and find strength in God’s unfailing intervention as demonstrated with the gift of salvation in the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Indeed, Christmas offers us a great lesson as a nation that no matter how long darkness, characterised by violence, oppression, economic repression, hunger, abuse of rights, disregard to the need of the people, and widespread corruption, as we have witnessed in the last five years may appear to dominate, salvation will surely come as exemplified in the birth of the saviour.
“Our party therefore urges Nigerians to use this period to intensify their bond of unity as well as comfort and reach out to one another in love so that the joy that Christmas brings would not be lost,” the statement said.